Exciting news! We are screening two films LIVE, and the rest are virtual. Eight of the best award-winning and acclaimed films from around the world!
Our Opening and Spotlight Film Will Be An
“In-Person” Theater Experience!
DEAL –The 13th Annual Axelrod Jewish International Film Festival opens on Saturday, September 10, 2022, at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal. The nonprofit festival features eight exceptional, award-winning films from Israel, the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Austria and more, ranging from Holocaust and World War II stories, relationships and comedies to an edge-of-your-seat thriller!
“We offer the best in international films and never compromise on quality and artistic integrity,” said Toby Shylit Mack, director of the Axelrod Jewish International Film Festival (AJIFF) and Film Education. “We always ensure the content meets our mission statement criteria.”
The mission of AJIFF is to entertain, but along the way, viewers will be treated to eye-opening experiences. The award-winning and critically-acclaimed films reveal expansive cinematic landscapes, where audiences are immersed in a world of adventures filled with drama, romance, comedy and riveting true stories.
Shylit Mack knows all too well about the Holocaust experience. Her mother was a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps; her father was in Buchenwald, and she was born in the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp.
“We thoughtfully curate stellar foreign films to foster awareness and illuminate diverse topics of cultural significance,” said Shylit Mack.
Opening the festival is the Israeli film, “Karaoke,” an offbeat, comedic journey following Tova and Meir, an aging couple with 46 years of marriage and two grown daughters. They live a comfortable life, with Meir currently on sabbatical from his academic professorship and Tova running a boutique shop. Their lives get a jolt of excitement from their neighbor from above, Itzik, who invites them to his penthouse for karaoke nights. Tova and Meir fall hard for Itzik’s energetic lifestyle. They begin to compete with their other neighbors and soon with each other, trying to win Itzik’s attention. “Karaoke” stars Sasson Gabay (The Band’s Visit), Lior Ashkenazi (Footnote, Late Marriage) and Rita Shukrun (Tironoot).
“Karaoke,” which had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, was nominated for 14 Ophir awards (Israeli Academy), including best film, best director, best actor and best actress. There will be two in-person screenings at the Axelrod PAC – Saturday, September 10 at 8:30 p.m. (including free popcorn and dessert reception) and Sunday, September 11 at 4 p.m. “Karaoke” will also be screened at the Count Basie Cinema in Red Bank on September 13 at 7 p.m.
“The Man in the Basement” will be shown at the Axelrod PAC on Saturday, September 17 at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 18 at 4 p.m. Director Philippe Le Guay’s 2021 film will make you think twice about renting space in your home to a “nice old man.” This drama, in French with English subtitles, stars Jérémie Renier (In Bruges), Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) and François Cluzet (The Intouchables). The film will also be screened at the Count Basie Cinema in Red Bank on September 22 at 7 p.m.
The remaining six films can be streamed any time between September 10 and 22. In “Farewell, Mr. Haffmann,” François Mercier is an ordinary man living in 1941 Paris. His only goal is to start a family with Blanche, the woman he loves. François works for Mr. Haffmann, a talented Jewish jeweler. Under the German occupation, the employer and employee are forced to strike a deal which, over the following months, will upend the fate of all concerned.
“Where Life Begins” tells the story of an ultra-orthodox Jewish family from Aix-les-Bains who visit a farm in Calabria, Italy for a brief stay every year to carry out a sacred mission: harvesting citrons. Here Elio, the farm owner, meets Esther, the rabbi’s daughter, who is tired of the constraints imposed by her religion. Through this relationship, Esther will understand the importance of freedom and find her path, and, in the same way, Elio will find the peace he had lost for a long time.
In the Austrian drama “Schächten,” a young, Jewish-Austrian businessman named Victor is witness to how the prosecution of a Nazi crime perpetrated against his family unjustly fails in the courtroom. The political and legal system in 1960s Austria is still run by former Nazis and there is no avenue for Victor to change matters. When he loses his grief-stricken father and his girlfriend’s family opposes their relationship and his being Jewish, Victor completely loses faith in the system and pursues matters via a different path.
Hosted by award-winning Israeli performer Dudu Fisher (Les Misérables), “Baltic Truth” exposes the tragic events of the first months of WWII in the Baltic States. This documentary tells how almost the entire Jewish community of the occupied Baltic Nations was eliminated by face-to-face executions, one bullet at a time with assistance of the local population – before the Final Solution, before Auschwitz and before gas chambers. The film reflects the need for accuracy of Holocaust history and does not allow the shifting of blame. The film reveals the truth about the collaboration with the Nazi regime in the Baltic States; how neighbor turned on neighbor without hesitation, prompting a massacre of great proportions. “Baltic Truth” reveals how some national heroes involved in Holocaust crimes are being celebrated by their fellow countrymen to this very day.
The French film, “The Wedding Day,” is the story of a WWII tragedy in a Polish village mixed with the story of a wedding occurring in the same place 100 years later. It examines a xenophobic community that has forgotten its own history. “An uncomfortable history revision delivered in a masterful and provocative highwire act of genre, commercial and arthouse filmmaking of intense social relevance.” – Screen Anarchy.
“Lost Transport” takes place in the spring of 1945 when a train deporting hundreds of Jewish prisoners becomes stranded near a small German village occupied by the Red Army. Condemned to each other and in a context of deep mistrust, desperation and revenge, an unexpected friendship emerges between Russian sniper Vera, village girl Winnie and Jewish-Dutch woman Simone.
The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is located at 100 Grant Avenue, Deal Park. Individual film tickets are $15. A film pass is $82 and includes one ticket to the festival’s opening film, “Karaoke” (in person with free popcorn and dessert reception), one ticket to the closing film, “The Man in the Basement” (in person with free popcorn) and links to 6 virtual films. The tickets for the live films can be used in Red Bank at the Count Basie Cinema as well.
The film festival virtual pass, which gives access to all six virtual films, is $52. Links will be sent 24 hours prior to the festival start date. For more information, visit www.axelrodartscenter.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now in its 13th year, the Axelrod Jewish International Film Festival receives major support for this annual event from the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ.