Legendary actor Theodore Bikel will receive the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival’s inaugural Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award at a special centerpiece event during the 19th annual Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival on February 15, 2015. Bikel will accept the award in person, following the Valley premiere of his new film, Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem at Harkins Theatre Camelview 5 in Scottsdale.
Bikel, a Vienna native whose family fled the country at the start of World War II, is the world’s foremost interpreter of Tevye the Dairyman from the musical Fiddler On the Roof, which is based on writer Sholom Aleichem’s Yiddish shtetl stories. First appearing as Tevye in 1967, Bikel has performed the role more than 2,000 times over 40 years. Following the award presentation, the 90-year-old actor and troubadour will take audience questions about his 65-year career on stage and screen.
The City of Scottsdale’s Mayor Jim Lane also will be on hand at the event to present Bikel with the city’s official proclamation of “Theodore Bikel Day” prior to the screening. Mayor Lane declared February 15 a joyous day to honor a man “who is a great example of dedication to his community, state and country as well as for his enhancement of Jewish culture through film, theater and song.”
One of the most versatile and respected performers of his generation, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art graduate created the role of Baron Von Trapp in the original Broadway cast of The Sound of Music, and Bikel also appeared on stage in Tonight in Samarkand and The Rope Dancers. Bikel is equally at ease on the big screen, with an Academy Award-nominated turn as a Southern sheriff in The Defiant Ones and memorable roles in The African Queen and My Fair Lady. Bikel is fluent in more than half a dozen European and Middle Eastern languages and sings folk songs in nearly 20 languages. He co-founded the Newport Folk Festival with Pete Seeger, Oscar Brand and George Wein in 1959.
Bikel’s appearance is just one highlight of the 19th annual Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, whose lineup will be announced online December 1. Screening a rich assortment of independent Jewish cinema from all over the world, the festival will show 13 films from eight countries, including nine area and state theatrical premieres, in three theaters across the Valley.
“The quality of our film slate is very strong this year,” said GPJFF Executive Director Bob Segelbaum. “I’m very excited that during this time of heightened tension in the Middle East, we can present films reflective of the rich and diverse Jewish people, culture, and faith to so many people of all beliefs throughout the Valley. Our intention is threefold: to entertain, to foster meaningful discourse, and to provide a cinematic experience that affects both heart and mind.”
For more information on the 19th annual Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival which runs from February 8-22, 2015, please go to www.gpjff.org.