Atlanta Jewish Festival: 74 Films in 23 Days
Arts2018 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival

Atlanta Jewish Festival: 74 Films in 23 Days

The AJFF lineup features Russian Jews, Holocaust survivors, little-known history, Hollywood stars and the Mensch on a Bench.

A world-premiere feature documentary, the North American premiere of an epic, three-part documentary, and Israel’s Academy Award entry highlight the 74 movies filling 192 screenings in 23 days at the 2018 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

The full lineup for the 18th annual festival was previewed for sponsors and media Thursday night, Jan. 4, during at party at the Atlanta History Center and announced to the public the next day.

“We are proud to continue an 18-year tradition by bringing the most diverse and compelling films from around the globe,” festival Executive Director Kenny Blank said. “There is a universality to the stories told in this year’s lineup, with both sweeping and epic stories, personal narratives, unconventional perspectives, and stories that intersect with other communities.”

AJFF board President Steve Labovitz (left) and Executive Director Kenny Blank welcome sponsors to the preview of the 2018 festival at the Atlanta History Center on Jan. 4.

Tickets go on sale at on Wednesday, Jan. 17, one week before the festival opens with the documentary “Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me.” The festival closes Thursday, Feb. 15, with the narrative “The Last Suit,” the story of an 88-year-old Argentinian tailor who travels to Poland in search of the man who saved his life during the Holocaust.

The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre is hosting the opening and closing nights, for which tickets are $36.

The Woodruff Arts Center, which hosted the closing night last year, is the site of the festival’s third $36 screening: the ACCESS young professionals screening Saturday, Feb. 3, of the millennial rom-com “The Boy Downstairs,” including a pre-film party.

Three screenings are planned Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 10 and 11, for the world-premiere documentary “Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel,” which tracks the surprising success of the Jewish Americans representing Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic with the help of the Mensch on a Bench.

Making its North American debut is the epic documentary “Russian Jews,” which is presented in three parts to cover the entire history of its subject. Each piece is being screened twice and works as a stand-alone feature.

“On My Way Out: The Secret Life of Nani and Popi” is a U.S. premiere documentary about the filmmakers’ nonagenarian grandparents, Holocaust survivors who reveal after six decades of marriage that the husband is gay.

“On My Way Out” is paired for its two screenings with another short documentary, the Oscar short-listed “116 Cameras,” which focuses on the Shoah Project’s efforts to turn Holocaust survivors’ testimonials into interactive holograms. Featured is Eva Schloss, who knew Anne Frank and became Otto Frank’s stepdaughter after the war; Schloss appeared in Atlanta twice in 2017.

The festival is presenting one other pairing of short documentaries: “Cuba’s Forgotten Jewels,” about the Havana Jewish community, and “Iom Romì,” about Rome’s Jews.

Festival-goers also can choose among four shorts programs, each with five films. Two of them are world premieres and are part of Shorts Program 3: “Wendy’s Shabbat,” about a group of seniors who gather at the fast-food restaurant on Friday nights for burgers, fries and blessings, and “Rebel,” an Israeli film about a Sephardic woman trapped in an abusive marriage in 1950s Tel Aviv.

Four other shorts are making their North American premieres: “Habesha,” in which Ethiopian Jews talk about life in Israel (with Atlantan Bailey Softness as cinematographer); “Chad Gadya,” an animated version of the Passover classic; “Open Your Eyes,” in which a visit to the eye doctor in Israel reveals truths about the Israeli-Arab conflict; and “The Outer Circle,” about British-Iraqi Jews gathering for a holiday feast.

“Habesha” and “Chad Gadya” are in Shorts Program 1; “Open Your Eyes” and “The Outer Circle” are in Program 2.

See the full lineup here. Look for a pullout preview of the festival, including the schedule, reviews, venues and other features, in the Jan. 12 AJT.

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