Nov 28, 2016

Announcing the 20th Annual Festival Program

The best of international cinema returns to Miami when the Miami Jewish Film Festival takes over the city for its milestone 20th year, bringing 64 films from 20 countries, and hosting 50 filmmakers and special guests, including Nancy Spielberg, Roberta Grossman, Emmy Award-winning actor Stuart Margolin, and Goodwill Ambassador of Israel and sports legend Tal Brody, amongst others.

The Miami Jewish Film Festival, the largest Jewish cultural event in Florida, and one of the largest and most respected Jewish film festivals in the world, has announced a line-up of films to be screened and events to be celebrated from January 12-26, 2017, featuring North American Premieres, US Premieres, and Florida Premieres.

The Festival opens with the premiere of Israel’s biggest box office hit of the year, The Women’s Balcony, and will close with the premiere of Israeli auteur Avi Nesher’s highly anticipated new film, Past Life. The closing night will feature a live chorus performance as an exciting compliment to the film’s central theme of music and will also include an Israeli-themed reception.

The Women's Balcony, Opening Night Film Premiere

Among the special guests attending the 20th annual Festival are Nancy Spielberg and Roberta Grossman, who will present a work-in-progress preview of their highly anticipated documentary, Who Will Write Our History. The occasion will mark the first time any audience will have the privilege of seeing footage from the film, which is the follow-up feature to their acclaimed documentary Above & Beyond, winner of MJFF 2015 Audience Award. Following the presentation, Nancy and Roberta will present a discussion about their careers in the film industry as women filmmakers. Also attending the Festival will be Goodwill Ambassador of Israel and sports legend Tal Brody for the Florida Premiere of his inspiring new film, On the Map, and Emmy Award-winning actor Stuart Margolin (Days of Heaven), who will host the premiere of his new touching romantic drama, The Second Time Around.

Music features prominently as a theme at this year’s Festival, with highlights including the US Premieres of the Canadian drama, Night Song, and the mesmerizing documentary Exit: Music, which traces the recovery and restoration of classical masterworks thought long lost during the reign of the Third Reich. Both films will feature live musical performances accompanying their premieres: South Florida’s most popular chorus group, the Second Avenue Jewish Chorale, will perform classical Jewish songs at the screening of Night Song, and the Amernet String Quartet, an ensemble-in-residence at Florida International University, will perform music by Jewish composers which was suppressed by the Nazis at Exit: Music. Also featured will be the Florida Premiere of SXSW Film Festival Documentary Audience Award winner, Mr. Gaga, an extraordinary film that captures the elusive beauty of contemporary dance that will be brought to life with a performance by Miami’s local dance ensemble, Dance Now!

Harmonia, Florida Premiere

Other notable musically themed films premiering are the affectionate documentary Bang! The Bert Berns Story, the WWII romantic drama Cloudy Sunday, and the internationally acclaimed film, Harmonia, that stars iconic Israeli actor Alon Aboutboul (The Band’s Visit).

A specially curated Spotlight on French Cinema will be headlined by the North American Premiere of Tout, tout de suite, a fact-based thriller dramatizing the horrific case of a young French Jew whose kidnapping and tragic ordeal triggered a national outcry against anti-Semitism and hate crimes. Other highlights include the North American Premiere of the irreverent slapstick comedy, The Jews, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist) and Yvan Attal (Munich), and the inspiring true story Fanny’s Journey, which follows a group of children fleeing Nazi-occupied France. Also featured is the premiere of the suspenseful comedy-thriller Thank You for Calling and The Origin of Violence, a startling family drama about long-buried secrets and betrayal.

Restoring Tomorrow, Florida Premiere

In a continued effort to expand its focus and to strengthen its spotlight on emerging filmmakers, MJFF will host its second annual Short Film Competition, showcasing some of the most prestigious international short films, as well as many new discoveries. Presented in partnership with Film Movement, a renowned US Distributor, one winner will be selected to receive a distribution contract and a cash prize. Together, the Miami Jewish Film Festival and Film Movement seek to discover and develop independent artists, and to provide a platform for them to present their works to a global audience.

In addition, the Festival will celebrate 110 years of growth and success of one of Israel’s preeminent film schools, the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. With unparalleled access, this spotlight presents a collection of short films from its most recognized graduates. This is the second annual edition of this program, which launched at the Festival last year honoring the Ma’aleh Film School, that shines a spotlight on the outstanding film schools, talent, and industry blossoming in Israel.

MJFF has further broadened its New Voices sidebar that was created last year to support debut films from national and international filmmakers. Among this year’s selections are the critically acclaimed drama about Palestinian twenty-somethings living in Tel Aviv, In Between, the emotionally poignant documentary, Aida’s Secrets, the family comedy One Week and a Day that swept the recent Jerusalem Film Festival and won at Cannes Film Festival, and the documentary, S is for Stanley, which reveals, for the very first time, new insights into legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s life and career.

Paradise, East Coast Premiere

Other noteworthy films at this year’s Festival include the world premiere of the astonishingly haunting film, 1945, the East Coast Premiere of Russia’s official candidate for the Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film, Paradise (directed by iconic Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky), Israeli auteur Eran Kolirin’s highly anticipated new drama Beyond the Mountains and Hills, Argentinean director Daniel Burman’s award-winning homecoming tale, The Tenth Man, and Radu Jude’s magnificently beautiful Locarno Film Festival winner, Scarred Hearts.

Tickets for the Festival go on sale to the public on Monday, December 5 and continue throughout the Festival. Patrons are encouraged to purchase tickets online. In addition to $13 single tickets, MJFF will offer full Festival passes for $250. More information is available at and by calling 305-573-7304.

Follow the Miami Jewish Film Festival on Facebook (/miamijewishfilmfestival) or Twitter (@MiamiJFF) for updates with the latest information about the Festival and attending filmmakers. Join the conversation using the hashtag #mjff20 on social media.

The Miami Jewish Film Festival is a program of the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE), a subsidiary of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

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