It’s a Wrap: 2024 Virginia Festival of Jewish Film

The Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma & Howard Laderberg wrapped up on Wednesday, Feb. 28. This year’s festival, which included five feature films in addition to a special event showcasing four Israeli short films, was attended by more than 600 community members, with two sold-out films.

Highlights of the 31st annual festival were the films featured on Saturday, Feb. 24 and Sunday, Feb. 25.

The annual Big Saturday Night Celebration of Jewish Film, sponsored by Bank of America, began with the local premiere of Remembering Gene Wilder on Saturday, Feb. 24. The film opens in theaters this spring. Following a conversation with the film’s director, Ron Frank, a “Willy Wonka” themed dessert reception took place in the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art’s atrium. Five lucky guests found a golden ticket which awarded them a special prize. In addition to desserts, champagne flowed. A candy bar and chocolate fountain rounded out the offerings. As one filmgoer remarked, “The decor was great. The candy even better. Our dentist may not like that, but sugar makes the world better!”

The fun continued the next day with a screening of the documentary The Catskills, a love letter to the magical resorts and bungalow colonies in the Catskill mountains that were a mainstay of so many Jewish summers. As featured speaker Steve Gold regaled the audience with tales of the region’s allure, many community members shared their own stories of vacations, celebrity sightings, great meals, and even long-lost loves, ala Dirty Dancing.

Other featured films took on heavier topics – from the modern Israeli drama Home to the Holocaust stories portrayed in SHTTL and The Story of Annette Zelman. Home and Zelman each had two screenings, a first in the festival’s three-plus decades, to accommodate those who would prefer to see a matinee versus an evening film.

The Festival Screening Committee will reconvene this summer to begin screening films for next year’s festival.

For information on how to get involved, email Hunter Thomas, director of Arts + Ideas at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, at

The Virginia Festival of Jewish Film was presented by the Alma & Howard Laderberg Restricted Fund of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation and funded in part by the citizens of Virginia Beach through a grant from the City of Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission.