In anticipation of the 10e anniversary of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, returning November 3-13 at the Dairy Arts Center, we take audiences on a trip down memory lane with a series of crowd-pleasing films from festivals past. Audience Favorites consists of five feel-good films that have thrilled our viewers and which I personally am thrilled to revisit with you.
All screenings will take place at 7:00 p.m. in the Boedecker Theater at the Dairy Arts Center, with a social gathering before each screening and a discussion after each film. Tickets, $12, are available at thedairy.org. Watch the trailers by clicking on the titles below.
We start the summer season on June 28 with “Homecoming: The Story of Team Israel”, a moving story of sport, patriotism and personal growth, which we showed in 2018. Laughing at the Jamaican bobsleigh team, the Israel national baseball team is participating for the first time in the World Baseball Classic. But with several Jewish American Major League players on the Israel squad, it’s a whole new ballgame for the underdogs. Arriving in Israel with a can-do attitude and a great sense of humor but a tenuous connection to Judaism, these American players leave with newfound pride and a personal connection to the Jewish homeland. And their journey leaves us laughing, crying and cheering at the same time.
Screening on July 12, “For the love of Spocktakes us on a space exploration of the iconic Vulcan character that Leonard Nimoy played for 50 years. Presented at the 2017 festival, this loving tribute was originally designed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of “star trekand intended to focus on the lasting legacy of Mr. Spock. But when Nimoy died in 2015, the director – his son Adam Nimoy – widened the scope of the documentary to encompass his father’s entire life and career. The result is a lively and heartfelt tribute to a proudly Jewish actor who based his Live Long and Prosper hand gesture on the Birkat Kohanim – the priestly blessing.
On August 23, a legendary songwriter gets his “magic moment” in “Alias Doc Pomus,which also opens the ReelAbilities Film Festival at the Boulder JCC. Brooklyn-born Jerome Felder was rock & roll’s most unlikely icon and the first white person inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. Crippled by polio as a child, he triumphed over adversity, reinventing himself first as a blues singer called Doc Pomus, then as a songwriter, creating some of the biggest hits of the early rock and roll era: “Save the Last Dance for Me” (written for his wife, with whom he couldn’t dance because of her crutches), “A Teenager in Love”, “Viva Las Vegas”, and a thousand others. Packed with incomparable music and rare archival footage, this star-studded tribute to a man who lived his life to the fullest is pure joy.
On September 13, another force of nature is honored in “deli manfrom the 2014 festival. Ziggy Gruber, whose beloved Houston grocery store is his life’s mission, is the grandson of the original owner of the Rialto Deli, the first kosher grocery store to open on Broadway in New York City. set in the 1920s. Both an intimate look at a man with a big heart and an homage to the waning charcuterie tradition itself, the juicy film takes an appetizing look at food, culture, community, love and family, brought to life by such luminaries as Larry King, Jerry Stiller, Fyvush Finkel, Freddie Roman and Alan Dershowitz and many deli owners who appreciate the delectable importance of pastrami over rye.
We wrap up Audience Favorites on October 25 with my favorite closing night film of the past decade, “hava Nagila,from 2013. A single song might seem like an unlikely subject for a documentary, but when that song is “Hava Nagila” and the director is Roberta Grossman, the contagious and ubiquitous holiday song becomes a powerful symbol of the Jewish people. This Jewish staple has transcended its origins and become a global hit, popularized by Bob Dylan, Elvis and Harry Belafonte. Grossman (a festival favorite whose next three films we’ve shown) follows the song on its fascinating journey from Eastern European shtetls to its required performance at every American Jewish celebration, taking viewers from Ukraine to Israel, the Catskills, Greenwich Village, Hollywood and Boulder, exploring Jewish history and identity through the power of music.
Tickets for the 10th edition Boulder Jewish Film Festival went on sale October 12. The annual Sponsors Brunch Preview will take place on Sunday, October 9th. For sponsorship opportunities contact [email protected] For more information about the ReelAbilities Film Festival, please contact [email protected]