The Virginia Festival of Jewish Film presented by Alma and Howard Laderberg, wrapped up its 29th year on Monday, February 28 with a screening of Hester Street, restored in 4K for its 40th anniversary, and presented at Naro Expanded Cinema in honor of longtime Festival contributor Mal Vincent. Temple Israel’s Rabbi Michael Panitz spoke before the film to provide some contextual information regarding the film and the era it portrays.
The Festival began in January with a virtual presentation of the film Tiger Within. Hybrid viewings of the remaining four films, along with in-person screenings began on Thursday, February 24, with the Italian film, A Starry Sky Above the Roman Ghetto. In addition to Rabbi Panitz, speakers at this year’s Festival included Judi Beecher and Yael Perlov.
Beecher, who executive produced and starred in the Festival’s Big Saturday Night Celebration screening of Tango Shalom on February 26, discussed her career and experience with Festival co-chair, Anne Fleder. “I’ve never had the opportunity to watch a film with one of the leading ladies sitting next to me,” says Fleder. “For me, being able to interview and get inside the mind of Judi was an experience that I hope was just as engaging for the audience as it was for me—especially when she rose from her chair to sing her new song Paris, Oh La La!
Perlov, who comes from a famous filmmaking family in Israel, edited and produced Ben-Gurion, Epilogue, which presented previously unseen footage from a 1968 interview with Israel’s first prime minister. Perlov spoke with Laura Gross, president, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, following the film. She also shared a photo from an upcoming project, The Paritizan with the Leica.
To learn about UJFT and Simon Family JCC’s arts programming while waiting for the 40th annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film next year, visit www.JewishVA.org/arts-ideas.
Hunter Thomas is director of Arts & Ideas at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. He may be reached at HThomas@UJFT.org.
Photography by Mark Robbins