“Chewdaism: A Taste of Jewish Montreal,” embodied the gastronomic and cultural mood from the closing night movie of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Feb. 26 at the City Springs Byers Theatre, which accommodated a sold-out crowd.
It was all about the food post-movie when Added Touch catering laid out the spread on both lobby levels of the venue. Or as the film’s stars would toast: “Ayn, tsvey, dray NOSH!” before gobbling down the hearty food of Montreal.
“Chewdaism” depicts a 24-hour binging marathon as two young Canadian men, who also appeared live on the stage before and after the film, basked in bagels, smoked meats and a Sephardic feast replete with white robes and ululating women on drums. Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman, the film’s stars, got their motivation from the popularity of their own YidLife Crisis website and YouTube videos, which have racked up 3 million views.
Later in the reception, native Canadian Amy Dorsch waxed sentimental about the movie as she remembered her college days visiting and partying and eating in Montreal. “It was sad that many of the establishments shown in the movie are not kosher. … Notice that the tour guide Zev Moses (executive director of the Montréal Jewish Museum) did not eat along the way. There are, of course, some nice kosher restaurants in Montreal, … steak and even Japanese. …. I did love the movie.”
Barry Flink commented on the last segment of “Chewdaism,” about the plight of the Sephardic Jews settling in Montreal. “My wife Vicky (Sotto) and I have a combination of Sephardic roots from Turkey and Greece to Spain, and my mother is from Montreal. The cycle of Sephardic Jews having to earn their way into Ashkenazi society is quite authentic. It’s similar in many communities. Vicky’s parents came here speaking only Ladino.”
Susan and Fred Feinberg enjoyed the upbeat mood. “This was my favorite of all the films,” Susan said. “I thought it was delightful. Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman were terrific and kept it light.”
Scott Moscow said between bites, “I thought it was fun to see all the ethnicities and background of cultures that combined to create Montreal.” Maury Shapiro joked, “This makes me want to visit Montreal. I want to hang out with those guys.”
Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul and City Councilman Andy Bauman were beaming in the lobby of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. “I think the whole festival was phenomenal, and I’m already excited for next year,” Paul said. “The AJFF was one of the reasons we built this venue. Here we are in a state-of-the-art acoustical lobby with hundreds people under majestically high ceilings, yet we can easily hear each other converse.”
Bauman said,” A short while ago this place was like the Roman Coliseum. We didn’t know if it was going to be indoor or outdoor (laughing). Rusty and I were standing in dirt climbing ladders in this very spot.”
During the reception, tables were lined with bagels stuffed with lox spread and cream cheese, chocolate babka (highlighted in the movie as “the soul of Jewish food”), pastrami on rye, slaw, pickles and potato chips. Coke was on hand to dole out complimentary take-home bottles.