Film Festival committee members recap 23 years

by | Jan 8, 2016 | Other News

Since the inception of the film festival, three committee members haven’t missed a single movie.

The Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma* and Howard Laderberg is now in its 23rd year, and Lois and Barry Einhorn, along with Ellie Lipkin, have been dedicated committee members from the onset.

The screening committee, now chaired by William Laderberg and Mark Robbins, finds Jewish films from all over the world and narrows selections to not more than 10 films for the festival.

“When we started years, ago, the number of films out there was limited,” says Barry Einhorn. “Now we struggle to cut the number of films shown to six or seven.” Just two decades ago, most Jewish films dealt with the Holocaust. “They were all mostly dark and gloomy, and tended to leave people feeling the same way,” he adds. The festival still annually screens one Holocaust-related film, but today, the choices abound.

The breadth of films has also expanded. “So many films are coming out of Israel alone,” says Lois Einhorn, “and a large number of other countries are making relevant films, from comedy to drama, and more.”

The screening committee begins its work in late spring of each year. The group researches films and shares links with other committee members so they can watch in their own homes. At group screenings, the committee meets to view and review. “The advantage to the group screenings is the immediate feedback and response,” says Barry Einhorn, “and we can usually come to a group vote about the film quickly.”

Like the films themselves, the committee is comprised of more diverse members than it was in past years. “We have all different adult age groups represented, we have Israelis, and we have a lot more perspective,” says Ellie Lipkin.

The three agree that Opening Night has become a sensation. “It’s become more extravagant, and an evening not to be missed.” Mentioning Gloria Siegel, Lipkin credits her as “the inspiration for bringing it to the next level with dedication, perseverance, extravagance and style.”

“When I think back to the first Opening Night at the Naro 23 years ago, with just several dozen people coming back to the old JCC for a little reception, I just marvel,” says Lipkin.

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

*of blessed memory

by Leslie Shroyer