Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival returns February 11-25

Deborah Muller

2018 Lineup for the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival – 21 Features + 5 shorts + 3 locations = One Great Time!

December 1, 2017 – (Phoenix, AZ) – For the past 22 years, the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival (GPJFF) has celebrated Jewish culture through film, bringing an exciting lineup of films to Arizona honoring Jewish traditions and heritage. Currently the longest-running film festival in the Valley, the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival celebrates its 22nd year by presenting more great films that make our festival even bigger and better – almost 2,100 magical minutes of Jewish cinema from 10 different countries! Rejoice in this annual crowd-pleasing, two-week annual event with 21 new films and five short films that range from defiance and struggle to fun and adventure to laughter and love, with something for everyone and stories that engage both mind and heart. Without leaving your movie theater seat, travel from the baseball diamonds of South Korea to the chessboards of the former Soviet Union; from the courtrooms of South Africa to the mountaintops of Switzerland; from the back lots of Hollywood to the deserts of both Las Vegas and Israel! From February 11 to the 25th, the 22nd Annual Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival will be screening films, showcasing the best of Jewish traditions, at three Valley locations: Harkins Shea 14, Scottsdale; Harkins Park West 14, Peoria and Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16, Tempe.

In addition to the website, http://gpjff.org, you can also follow the Festival on www.facebook.com/GreaterPhxJewishFilmFest or @GPJFF on Twitter.

What: The 22nd Annual Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival

When: Sunday, February 11 – Sunday, February 25

Where: Harkins Shea 14, 7354 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale; Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16, 2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe; Harkins Park West 14, 9804 W. Northern Ave., Peoria

Ticket Prices: $11.00 for adults ($13.00 at the door); $7 for students (ID required, 25 years and under); $150.00 Festival Pass (see all 21 movies). For more information about tickets, ticket packages or group discounts, call 602-753-9366 or visit www.gpjff.org.

In the East Valley theater location, the GPJFF will show the following nine feature films and five short films. Ranging from documentaries on Hollywood and music luminaries such as Hedy Lamarr, Sammy Davis Jr. and Itzhak Perlman to Israeli thrillers filled with espionage and secrecy to tender romances and stories of survival, the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival offers a variety of films people usually do not have the opportunity to view. Guest speakers moderate discussions with the audience after many screenings. A full schedule of all the films being shown at all locations during the Festival can be found at www.gpjff.org.

An online discount of $1 off individual tickets is offered through January 1, 2018.

Bye Bye Germany

Arizona Premiere

Dramedy – (Germany) 102 minutes, Germany and English with English subtitles

Screening: Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16, Tempe – Thursday, February 22, 7:00 p.m.

At the end of the Third Reich, most surviving Jews from the Holocaust understandably fled and said Bye Bye, Germany, as quickly as possible. Former concentration camp inmate David Bermann, one of 4,000 other real-life survivors who remained, sees his blasted homeland as the land of opportunity. The smooth-talking salesman recruits some friends to sell linens to Germans at inflated prices by employing outlandish shenanigans, absurd ploys and good old-fashioned chutzpah. While his friends are earning the money for their tickets to America, David is meeting with U.S. Special Agent Sara Simon who is determined to discover his secrets.

A screening of the short film Wendy’s Shabbat precedes the Tempe screening.

Bombshell – The Hedy Lamarr Story

Documentary – (USA) 90 minutes, English

Screening: Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16, Tempe – Sunday, February 18, 3:00 p.m.

Starlet. Screen Siren. The Most Beautiful Woman in the World. Bombshell – The Hedy Lamarr Story explores the ravishingly beautiful and intelligent actress of the 1930s and ‘40s. Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian Jewish emigre whose scandalous nude scene in the 1933 film Ecstasy led to a glittering Hollywood life. Behind the scenes, this glamour icon’s ground-breaking, but completely uncredited inventions are the basis of cell phone and Bluetooth technology. Dealing with repercussions of both sides, her later years become reclusive, impoverished and almost forgotten.

An Israeli Love Story

Arizona Premiere

Drama – (Israel) 93 minutes, Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles

Screening: Harkins Tempe Marketplace 14, Tempe – Wednesday, February 14, 7:00 p.m.

Set during the turbulent period of British Mandate in 1940s Palestine, An Israeli Love Story is at its heart a love story about two people during a simple time. Actress Margalit meets charismatic Eli on a bus and falls in love with him instantly. She tries to get close to him, but he’s too busy with the Hagana’s Palmach, the elite fighting force of the Jewish underground army. Finally, the barriers between the two come down and romance blooms. Margalit moves in with Eli and they set a date for their wedding, but soon Israel’s harsh reality intervenes. The film is based on the true story of the love affair between Pnina Gary and Eli Ben-Zvi, son of Rachel Yanait and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, the Second President of the State of Israel.

They Played for Their Lives

Arizona Premiere

Documentary – (USA) 52 minutes, English

Screening: Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16, Tempe – Wednesday, February 21, 7:00 p.m.

Through intimate interviews, live performances and illustrations, They Played for Their Lives portrays how music saved the lives of eight young musicians during the Holocaust. Playing music in the ghettos and concentration camps not only fostered spiritual strength, but also often proved a bargaining tool that spared their lives. Hear from a piano prodigy who played more than 800 recitals in the Terezin ghetto, an Auschwitz prisoner who taught an SS guard to play the harmonica and a virtuoso child whistler who performed for his life in front of Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele and other Nazi officers.

A screening of the short film Joe’s Violin precedes the Tempe screening.

Shelter

Drama – (Israel) 93 minutes, Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles

Screening: Harkins Tempe Marketplace 14, Tempe – Monday, February 19, 7:00 p.m.

Naomi Rimon, a Mossad agent, is sent on a presumably easy two-week mission: To protect Mona, a Lebanese informer, while she recovers from plastic surgery for her new identity in a safe house in Hamburg, Germany. But in Shelter, there are no easy missions in this world, and certainly not in this multi-dimensional labyrinth of espionage and intrigue.

Fanny’s Journey

Drama – (France/Belgium) 94 minutes, French with English subtitles

Screening: Harkins Tempe Marketplace 14, Tempe – Sunday, February 11, 3:00 p.m.

Following the arrest of their father in Paris during World War II, Fanny and her younger sisters are sent to a boarding school in France’s neutral zone. Their safe haven is only temporary, however, and the Jewish students are whisked away to another safe haven in Italy where they come under the care of the tough but tender Madame Forman. As danger advances again, the children’s fate is entrusted to 13-year-old Fanny who fearlessly treks through the countryside on a perilous mission through occupied France to reach the Swiss border. The children learn resilience, teamwork and independence on their quest to reach freedom and safety in Fanny’s Journey.

A screening of the short film Hope Dies Last precedes the Tempe screening.

Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

Documentary – (USA) 100 minutes, English

Screening: Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16, Tempe – Sunday, February 25, 8:00 p.m.

Blazing a trajectory across the major flashpoints of American society from the Depression through the 1980s, Sammy Davis, Jr., had a career that was legendary. Yet, his life was complex, complicated and contradictory as seen in Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me. Davis strove to achieve the American Dream in a time of racial prejudice and shifting political climates. The performer nicknamed Mister Show Business strived to stay relevant, but found himself bracketed by the bigotry of white America and the distaste of black America. He was the most public black figure to embrace Judaism, thereby yoking his identity to yet another persecuted minority.

A screening of the short film The Chop precedes all screenings.

A Quiet Heart

Drama – (Israel) 93 minutes, Hebrew, English and Italian with English subtitles

Screening: Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16, Tempe – Tuesday, February 20, 7:00 p.m.

In A Quiet Heart, Naomi is a secular Israeli suffering from a personal crisis that threatens to derail her career as a concert pianist. Overwhelmed by the expectations of her parents and colleagues in Tel Aviv, she seeks anonymity and solitude in Jerusalem. Despite her intentions to stay alone, Naomi makes two unexpected connections in her Haredi neighborhood – one with a musically gifted Ultra-Orthodox young neighbor and the other with Fabrizio, a charismatic Italian monk and organist. These relationships allow Naomi to reconnect with her love of music and sense of meaning; they also make her a target in her new community.

A screening of the short film In Other Words precedes the screenings.

Itzhak

Arizona Premiere

Documentary – (USA) 80 minutes, English

Screening: Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16, Tempe – Thursday, February 15, 7:00 p.m.

Itzhak showcases the life and music of Itzhak Perlman, widely considered one of the world’s greatest living violinists. The film explores the ways in which Perlman’s passion for music allowed him to find a platform for personal expression against tremendous circumstances. If there’s anyone who personifies the resilience, the vision and, ultimately, the contribution of the Jewish people, it’s Itzhak. Through the man and his music, hear a story of obstacles and survival, trace the path of the Jewish people from the chaos of Europe to the promise of Israel, see the comfort of home and family, and witness how humor and talent combine with discipline and drive.

A screening of the short film Joe’s Violin precedes the Scottsdale screening.

For more information about GPJFF or to schedule interviews with speakers and/or filmmakers, please contact Deborah Muller at 602-515-2304 or [email protected]