10th Annual Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival - Opens Big Thursday, April 30, 2015

Our films are not just selected, theyre chosen.

 Before Madonna, Before Miley Cyrus, Before Lady Gaga, there was Sophie Tucker.


LAJFF Celebrates Milestone Year! The 10th Annual Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival Opening Night Gala will be held on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at the historic Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills. Red carpet arrivals begin at 7:00pm.

The weeklong film festival will start off in a big way with the Los Angeles premiere for the outstanding, award-winning documentary, “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker.” This exceptionally entertaining film from Susan and Lloyd Ecker tells the story of legendary entertainer Sophie Tucker who shocked and enthralled audiences with her booming voice, outsized personality and musical talent. The film features appearances by Tony Bennett, Carol Channing, Michael Feinstein, Shecky Green, Bruce Vilanch and Mamie Van Doren. The VIP red carpet is a stellar event each year and Mamie Van Doren is expected to attend along with a special appearance from Sophie herself via iconic drag impersonator, Worthie “Momma” Meacham. Plus, filmmakers Susan and Lloyd Ecker will answer questions prior to the screening.

The LAJFF Executive Director, Hilary Helstein says, “we know our 10th annual festival will be the best one yet. We are premiering the strongest line-up of international films to date. In addition to these 25 plus films, we will honor the Festival Founding Co-Chairs, Kim Cavallo and Michele Kaufman for their vision and commitment to preserving Jewish culture in Los Angeles. We expect this to be our strongest festival yet as we recognize our amazing growth over the years.”

The closing night on Thursday, May 7th at the ArchLight Theater in Sherman Oaks is a film program that includes a personal appearance by famed, award-winning Israeli series creator, Gideon Raff who will answer questions following a special two episode screening of his “Prisoners of War,” (“Hatufim”), the basis for the hit Showtime series “Homeland.”

Tickets, venues and all films being shown during the festival week from April 30 to May 7, 2015 can be found at online at LAJFF.

Film Highlights

Prisoners of War (Hatufim)

Drama-Series/Israel/2010 –Written, directed & produced by Gideon Raff. This series is the winner of the Israeli Academy Award for Best Drama Series. Adapted into the acclaimed series “Homeland” for Showtime!  The show depicts three Israeli soldiers who were captured seventeen years ago while on a secret mission in Lebanon. The story begins with the soldiers' return home after years of negotiations for their freedom. It explores their reintegration into a society, which has made them national icons and into an interrupted family life, while working through the trauma of being held captive and tortured. As they undergo military debriefings, a psychiatrist finds discrepancies in their stories, and an investigation is launched to discover what they are hiding. Q&A session with series creator, Gideon Raff. 

Note: This is the Closing Night program, May 7, 7:30 pm, ArcLight Cinemas, Sherman Oaks

Sponsored by the Israel-American Council (IAC)



Auf Das Leben! (To Life!)

Los Angeles Premiere, Drama/Germany/2014/90 minutes

Directed by Uwe Janson, Written by Stephen Glantz, Produced by Alice Brauner

Starring Hannelore Elsner, Max Riemelt, Sharon Brauner

Fate has taken its toll on the aging cabaret singer and Holocaust survivor Ruth and a sickly young Jonas. Yet despite their great age difference, they form an intense bond and teach each other about life and love.  Through their interaction, they give each other a reason and purpose to live. A modern day “Harold and Maude.” Q&A with writer Stephen Glantz


Forbidden Films

Los Angeles Premiere, Documentary/Germany/2014/94 minutes

Directed by Felix Moeller

1,200 feature films were made in Germany’s Third Reich. Some 100 of these were propaganda, crafted specifically to engender anti-Semitism among the masses. Seventy years later, more than 40 of these films remain banned from public viewing. Moeller interviews renowned film historians and filmmakers who debate the power and potential danger of cinema when used for ideological purposes. Q&A session, Dr. Jan-Christopher Horak, Director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Screens onTuesday, May 5, 7:00 pm, Goethe Institut, Los Angeles
In partnership with the Goethe Institut, LA and Consulate General of Germany


The Art Dealer (l’Antiquaire)

Los Angeles Premiere Drama/France/ 2014/95 minutes Directed by François Margolin Starring Anna Sigalevitch French with English subtitles From renowned French director François Margolin (The Flight of the Red Balloon) comes this stylish new thriller set in the murky world of Nazi-looted art. A young journalist, Esther Stegmann, finds herself caught up in a web of betrayal and complicity as she embarks on a journey to recover family paintings that were stolen by the Nazis. Desperately searching for the truth in a past shrouded in mystery, she uncovers a story that has been carefully buried for decades by those closest to her and learns that some family secrets are best kept hidden. • Saturday, May 2, 8:00 pm Laemmle’s Town Center • Q&A with Randy Schoenberg, renowned art restitution lawyer and subject of “Woman in Gold” • Sponsored by Pamela & Randol Schoenberg in cooperation with the LA Museum of the Holocaust.


Los Angeles Premiere Drama/Russia/2014/120 minutes

Directed by Alexander Mitta, Russian with English Subtitles In partnership with Galerie Michael, Beverly Hills
Q&A with Michael Schwartz, Chagall expert and owner of Galerie Michael. 


West Coast Premiere, Comedy/United Kingdom/Hungary/94 minutes/2014 Directed by John Goldschmidt StarringJonathan Pryce, Pauline Collins & Jerome Holder. 

Widowed and down on his luck, Nat Dayan (Pryce) is desperate to save his bakery in London’s East End. His customers are dying off, his sons have no interest in the family business, and a hostile businessman has his own greedy plans for the property. In a pinch, Nat reluctantly enlists the help of teenager Ayyash (Holder,) a refugee from Darfur. The Muslim boy assists with the bakery’s chores, while selling cannabis on the side to help his struggling mother make ends meet. Ayyash, one day accidently drops his stash into the dough and the challah starts flying off the shelf. An unlikely friendship forms between the old Jewish baker and his young Muslim apprentice. Meanwhile, Joanna (Collins,) the recently widowed landlady has a none-too-subtle crush on Nat. This is a warmhearted and gently humorous story about overcoming prejudice and finding redemption in unexpected places. Introduction by Stephen Margolis, Chair of the UK Jewish Film Festival Saturday, May 3, at 8:00 pm Laemmle’s Music Hall Presented In partnership with the UK Jewish Film Festival.

A Letter From The Past

(Mikhtav me-he’avar), West Coast Premiere
Short/Israel/2013/52 minutes Directed by Ofer ZingermanProduced by Yael Abecassis & Hillel RosemanHebrew with English subtitles Q&A with composer Assaf Rinde. (no subtitles)

Playing with short film Aya, Nominee for the 2015 Academy Awards!


Short/Israel/2013/39 minutes, Directed by Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis Starring Sarah Adler & Ulrich Thomsen Produced by Yael  Abecassis & Hillel Roseman Hebrew with English subtitles.

Treblinka’s Last Witness

West Coast Premiere
Documentary/USA/2014/100 minutes Directed by Alan Tomlinson, English, Polish and Hebrew with English subtitles Q&A with film’s producer and Holocaust scholar, Michael Berenbaum 

(Sponsored by the Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles and the Sigi Ziering Institute at the American Jewish University).



Docuentary/Ethiopia/USA/2014/68 minutes Directed by Melissa Donovan English and Amharic with English subtitles. Q&A with Director, Melissa Donovan.  Inspirational story of hope, love and a journey of unimaginable possibilities. A spirited 10-year-old girl, Zemene, struggles with poverty, poor education, and a life-threatening condition: a severe curvature of the spine. At a critical moment, Zemene crosses paths with Dr. Rick Hodes, a compassionate Jewish American internist, whose life’s work is to help those in need. With his help she gains access to quality education and undergoes surgery to correct her kyphosis. Five years after her journey begins, she returns to her rural village, determined to help others. Sunday, May 3, 3:00 pm Laemmle’s music Hall. Q&A with Director, Melissa Donovan, moderated by Susan Freudenheim, Executive Editor of the Jewish Journal

In partnership with Cedars-Sinai and Kalsman Institute as part of the Jewish Wisdom and Wellness Week. 

Roadmap Genesis

Roadmap Genisis-LAJFF film Interfaith subject from Mike Huckabee to Alan Dershowitz

Los Angeles PremiereQ&A with Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple, Rabbi Sharon Braus of IKAR, and filmmaker Nolan Lebovit Documentary/USA/78 minutes/ Directed by Nolan LebovitzFeaturing Alan Dershowitz, Rabbi David Wolpe, Rabbi Sharon BrousRoadmap Genesis is a film that makes the case that the Book of Genesis is more relevant now than ever before. The film exposes viewers to a wide spectrum of ideas and dialogues, including conversations with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (now on the Fox News Channel), Alan Dershowitz, Rabbi David Wolpe, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, and Rabbi Sharon Braus. Roadmap Genesis promises to lift the U.S. out of its current decline, and return it to prosperity, promise, and accomplishment. 
Wednesday, May 6, Laemmle Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd. 

Touchdown Israel

Still Touchdown Israel

Los Angeles Premiere Documentary/ Israel/USA/2014/81 minutes Directed by Paul Hirschberger, English and Hebrew with English subtitles, Sunday, May 3, 5:00pm Laemmle’s Town Center, Encino, Q&A with director Paul Hirschberger Packed with plenty of gridiron action and irreverent humor, this film chronicles the improbable rise of American football in Israel. Hampered by inadequate playing conditions and an indifferent public, the Israeli Football League received a boost from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who funded a football stadium and became a league sponsor. Today, football in Israel is thriving, with over 600 players from across-section of Israeli society, including Arabs, Christians, secular and Orthodox Jews ¬ even Palestinians who have one thing in common-- love of the game. 

Secrets of War

West Coast Premiere Drama/ Belgium/Luxembourg/Neth­erlands/2014/96 minutes Directed by Dennis BotsDutch with English subtitles Suitable for young audiences. Inseparable childhood friends in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands find their loyalty severely tested in the family-friendly, com­ing-of-age story. Summer 1943, 12-year-old best friends Tuur and Lambert are all but oblivious to the dangers of the war. Days are spent going to school and playing in the caves outside their idyllic village in Limburg. But the realities of war set in and begin to divide families. Tuur’s family joins the resistance movement, while Lambert’s parents, allied with the Nazi party, force him to join the Nazi Youth. Their relation­ship suffers a greater strain with the arrival of Maartje, a girl with a mysterious identity. As they compete for her attention, jealousy and betrayal set in motion a series of events that will alter their lives forever. Q&A with survivor/resistance fighter and veteran actor, Curt Lowens. Tuesday, May 5,

7:30 pm Laemmle’s Music Hall.

Preceded by:

Curt Lowens: A Life of Changes

 Short/USA/6 minutes/ 2014, Directed by August Blum , The High school students in the Righteous Conversations Workshop bring to the screen Holocaust Survivor Curt Lowens’ story of escape and resistance during World War II in Holland, where he placed and cared for hundreds of Jewish children in hiding. Presented in partnership with Holland Hollywood and the Consulate General of the Netherlands, & the Righteous.

Belle and Sebastian

Los Angeles PremiereDrama/France/ 2014/104 minutes Directed by Nicolas Vanier French with English subtitles and dubbed. Family Friendly. This cinematic, heartwarming adaptation of the 1965 children’s book is set during WWII in the snowy French Alps. Lonely, seven-year-old Sebastian lives with his adopted grandfather and cousin Angelina in a peaceful village along the French-Swiss border. Roaming the countryside and dreaming of the day his mother will return for him from “America,” he befriends “the beast,” a dog local farmers are convinced is killing their sheep. This enormous yet gentle sheepdog quickly becomes the boy’s best friend and protector. With Nazis in the village rooting out the resistance fighters helping Jewish refugees cross the border, Belle and Sebastian’s loyalty to each other and the village that’s embraced them both, will be put to the test. For audiences of all ages, this film is the winner of the Films4Families Youth Jury Award at the Seattle International Film Festival. Screens on Sunday, May 3, 5:00 pm—(Dubbed) Laemmle’s Music Hall Wednesday, May 6, 7:30 pm—Subtitled Laemmle’s Town Center. Sponsored by the Goldrich Family Foundation in cooperation with the LA Museum of the Holocaust. 

Screening schedule


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