Film advisory committee freshens up festival

by | Dec 6, 2013 | Other News

As the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma* and Howard Laderberg, celebrates its 21st anniversary, it continues to expand its presence and breadth, becoming one of the longest running festivals of its kind in the country. To bring new ideas and direction to the festival, an advisory committee was created this year.

“We hit a point where we were getting stale,” says Mark Robbins, co-chairman of the committee. Robbins, along with Gloria Siegel, advisory council co-chair, brainstormed with Michele Goldberg, Simon Family JCC director of Cultural Arts, about how to “shake things up.”

The most major decision was to go multi-venue. Opening night last year at the Sandler Center was successful, which led to the move to branch out further. This year, four venues will be used: The Sandler Center, The TCC Roper Performing Arts Center, Beach Movie Bistro and the Naro Expanded Cinema. The JCC and Beth Sholom Village will also each screen a free movie.

Realizing that some Virginia Beach residents want to see films closer to home, the council decided to screen Tuesday and Saturday evening shows at Beach Movie Bistro. Saturday night will be “date night” in partnership with the Young Adult Division of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. For those who prefer “date night” to take place downtown on Saturday night, the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center will screen a different movie.

In addition to opening night, a second Sandler Center showing will now be the Virginian-Pilot critic Mal Vincent’s pick night. The Naro Expanded Cinema, which was the original home of the festival, will show Follow Me as part of its Wednesday documentary series.

“We are happy to once again partner with the Naro,” says Robbins. “Hopefully, this is the beginning of another long relationship.”

The festival has a long-standing relationship with Tidewater Community College, and is continuing to show the largest number of its films at the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center. TCC began a new Intercultural Learning program spearheaded by Dr. Jeanne B. Natali, and the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film is one of the cultural events that the students will be exposed to and incorporated into their curriculum.

“This film festival is for everyone,” says Siegel. “No matter where you live, it’s a festival for you.” Visit Virginia Festival of Jewish Film’s facebook page, and see the full festival lineup on

The Simon Family JCC is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

by Leslie Shroyer