Browsing the archives for the Making Trouble tag.

The Jewish Women’s Film Festival

Events, Film

This is a fine, focused and unique film festival.

The National Council of Jewish Women New York Section has an open film competition which is held every two years. The focus is films on the “experiences, aspirations, accomplishments of Jewish women”,  and the selected films are screened in a one-day film festival.  These films have never before been shown commercially in the New York area. This year it will be held on Sunday, October 26, at the JCC in Manhattan (76th and Amsterdam.)

This year’s selected films are:

Making Trouble, director: Rachel Talbot. Four Jewish comedians reminisce about the careers of the women who paved the way for them with lots of great archival footage. See my previous review of this film on this blog on January 25, 2008. Click on calender or enter title in search.

Family Picture, director Itzhak Haluzi (31 minutes) A dinner invitation transports them to their past during the Holocaust and provides an opportunity for revenge. 

Not Old Yet, directors: Miri Shnera and Moshe Timor, (27 Minutes) Anna goes from being a successful opera singer in Ukraine to becoming a cleaning woman in Israel. A touching story of her determination, good humor and faith in pursuing her lost career.

Passages, director: Gabriela Bohm (66 minutes) When the film maker learns that she is pregnant, she searches for her family history of myths, mysteries and secrets on a journey that takes her to Israel, Argentina, Hungary, and the US.

Westerbork Girl, Director Steffie Van Den Ord (48 minutes) The story of Hannalore Cahn, who was freed from Westbork Transit Camp during WWII. A film about survival, memory and love. And about an impossible decision that still haunts.

My Nose, director Gayle Kirschenbaum (13 minutes) A mother’s preoccupation with her daughter’s nose. Will she or won’t she?

Here’s the link to their festival information.

An organizer wrote this note to me: “Some film makers will be attending the sessions and the reception… we will be honoring Jane Rosenthal (of the Tribeca Film Festival, etc) and the winner of the best film award at our festival (only the award maker and one or two of the staff knows who that is… even the committee does not know). The festival is a competition and the judging was done by an independent panel.”

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“Making Trouble” and “Orthodox Stance” by NYCGuy

Film, Guest Author: NYCGUY

Five Real Jewish Women – Three of them Mothers – All Dead of Cancer Before 60 ….by guest author NYCGuy.

 I sat between Lily and my mom at the afternoon screening of Making Trouble, a doc about three generations of Jewish comediennes, three of whose careers I experienced in real time: Gilda Radner, Wendy Wasserstein and Madeline Kahn. A Q and A followed with director Rachel Talbot and editor Philip Shayne in the Jewish Museum hall that could only be described as a sea of silver-haired ladies. I asked the director what it was like to deal with three boomer women whose lives had been cut short way too soon.

Talbot, a boomer, seemed taken aback, but Shane interceded that they were filming Wasserstein vis-a-vis Kahn’s acting career and her role in her Sisters Rosensweig when the playwright died. So, she became one of those profiled as well as the segue into the Kahn segment. I later discovered I’d erred about the very sexy, sharply funny Kahn. Her birth preceded the baby boom by four years.

 The film used the vehicle of four contemporary Jewish comics or comedy writers fressing at Katz’s delicatessen, for propulsion, but I don’t somehow recall mention of lives foreshortened. The film, with significant support from the Jewish Women’s Archive, is ostensibly about six pioneers – Molly Picone, Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker and the still kicking Joan Rivers – but the sadly serendipitous inclusion of Wasserstein, a single mom and sole non-performer, added a woman as shammas whose extraordinary gift for story telling set ablaze the careers of many fine actresses.

So, you ask, who were the other two whose lives were cut short?

This evening I attended the closing festival screening with my friend M. The documentary, Orthodox Stance, looked at the boxing career of a Soviet immigrant, Dmitriy Salita, who takes on what was the sport of the earlier generation inter-war Jewish immigranmt boys who also sought a route out of poverty.

Dmitriy, who sat on the step next to us as the film rolled, began his training in the Starrett City Boxing Gym, a white kid among Black and Latin youths, with a legendary elderly Black trainer, Jimmy O’Pharrow, who, during the Q+A, Dmitriy named as his surrogate grandfather.

Early in his training, his mother develops and eventually succumbs to cancer. The husband of her Orthodox Jewish hospital roommate connects Dimitriy with a Chabad Lubavitch rabbi in Flatbush, setting a different spin on the young man’s life. His focus on boxing was also a way of dealing with the loss of his mother. The film opens theatrically at Cinema Village on January 25. Go see it!

Lily alread wrote about Praying with Lior. Isaw this with Lily and her husband sitting on one side and my friend G on the other. I had immediately checked off that film as a must see by the compelling picture of Lior in the Frestival brochure. In the course of the doc, via family film footage, we see the loss of Lior’s birth mother, a rabbi, and later discussion about this threaded throughout. His dad, also a rabbi, Mordechai Liebling,  a prominent thinker in the Reconstructionist movement eventually remarries. Lior’s new mom sees him into his current adolescence and with his dad to the pivotal preparation for the celebration of his bar mitzvah. On the eve of this event there is a scene with Lior and his dad at the birth mom’s gravesite. If there’s anyone unmoved their heart is clearly made of stone.

I don’t know if the organizers of what was the NY Jewish Film Festival 17 realized that the loss of vibrant women not due to the holocaust was woven through three very different documentaries that very much need to travel and be discussed.

That apparently is the desire of all the film makers.

In January 2009, the Festival turns 18, chai, life in Jewish numerology. What might this bring? Who might be missed?

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