Virginia Festival of Jewish Film

by | Feb 18, 2021 | Featured

As one of the longest-running Jewish film festivals in the country, the Patricia & Avraham Ashkenazi and Alma & Howard Laderberg Virginia Festival of Jewish Film educates and engages the diverse Tidewater communities, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, by presenting world-class film premieres, repertory cinema, and programs that are inspired by Jewish history, heritage, and values. This year will be no different.

To keep all community members safe, the festival is spread out over months, rather than days. The festival will begin virtually, and hopefully end the festival together—socially distanced —but together. If circumstances arise that require changing the format of screenings, we will do so as necessary.

We know that you will enjoy the films selected by an outstanding screening committee, chaired by William Laderberg and Mark Robbins, who work diligently throughout the year to bring the perfect films to our community, and we look forward to “seeing” you at the festival!

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: All films can be viewed virtually through Eventive, our box office management and screening platform. We strongly suggest that you review the information available at for help getting started with Eventive and creating your personal account, which is necessary to view the films.
—Debby Fink and Anne Fleder, Film Festival co-chairs

The Crossing
View Virtually Sunday, February 21—Tuesday, February 23 (72 Hours)
Johanne Helgeland | 96 min Norway | 2020
Norwegian | Family Friendly

A movie for the entire family, The Crossing tells the story of the adventurous 10-year-old Gerda and her brother Otto, whose parents are in the Norwegian resistance movement during the Second World War. One day, just before Christmas in 1942, Gerda and Otto’s parents are arrested, leaving the siblings on their own. Following the arrest, they discover two Jewish children, Sarah and Daniel, hidden in a secret cupboard in their basement at home. It is now up to Gerda and Otto to finish what their parents started: To help Sarah and Daniel flee from the Nazis, cross the border to neutral Sweden, and reunite them with their parents. The Crossing is a film about the confidence, uncompromising loyalty and great courage you can find in even the youngest children.

God Of The Piano
View Virtually Saturday, March 13—Monday, March 15 (72 Hours) Movie available for viewing at your convenience. Reservation required.
Zoom Event:
Monday, March 15, 7:30 pm
A community conversation led by Rabbi Michael Panitz
Itay Tal | 80 min Israel | 2019 Hebrew | Not Rated

A bold take on the power of a woman’s control and a mother’s ambition, first-time director Itay Tal conceives a thought-provoking and seductive film that stirs up controversy in many topics: The fact that someone’s talent could be related to genetics or early manipulation of practices and ideas; a subtle justification of a woman’s desperate actions; the role of an absent male dominance; the pressures on a child whose childhood is evidently stolen due to adults’ self interests. Presenting this fierce and audacious female character, actress Naama Preis gives a superb performance, marked by intense complexity and mystery. She won the Best Actress Award at Jerusalem Film Festival for this incredibly unpredictable role. Observational and highly dramatic, Itay Tal is a filmmaker to watch.

A Yom Haatzmaut Celebration!
An outdoor event with Israeli food. If it rains, the movie will be a drive-in event.
Sunday, April 18
Park and Picnic 6:30 pm
Conversation with Aulcie Director Dani Menkin (Aulcie Perry invited!) 7:15 pm
Film Start 8 pm, reservation required
Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community

This film will also be available virtually for those who prefer to view it from the comfort of home.
Dani Menkin | 75 min | USA, Israel | 2020
English, Hebrew | Not Rated

Aulcie tells the inspiring story of Aulcie Perry, a basketball legend who led Maccabi Tel Aviv to an upset win in the European Championship. During the summer of 1976, Perry was spotted by a scout for Maccabi Tel Aviv while playing at the Rucker courts in Harlem and was quickly signed to play for their fledgling team. The Israeli players immediately responded to Aulcie’s leadership and that year they had what one Sports Illustrated writer described as “the most extraordinary season in its remarkable history” and what Perry later called “the best nine months of my life.” In 1977, Perry helped the team to its first European Championship, a prize they took four years later again under his leadership.

After the season, to the surprise of many, Perry converted to Judaism, adopted the Hebrew name Elisha Ben Avraham, and became an Israeli citizen. This inspiring film tells the story of this remarkable athlete who captured the spirit of a nation, triumphant, and victorious against all odds, and put Israel on the map.

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles
In celebration with the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
An outdoor event with dessert. If it rains, the date will be rescheduled.
Wednesday, April 28
Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
Park and Picnic 6:30 pm
Film Start 8 pm, reservation required

This film will also be available virtually for those who prefer to view it from the comfort of home.
Laura Gabbert | 76 min USA | 2020
English | Not Rated

In 2018, famous London-based restauranteur and cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi was contacted by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art with an unusual proposal—create a display of elaborate pastries inspired by what might have been served up during the heyday of the court of Versailles for a one-day event as part of their then-current “Visions of Versailles” exhibit. He agreed and as plans came together for the big day, filmmaker Laura Gabbert was there to document everything. Celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi assembles a star-studded team of the world’s most innovative pastry chefs to put on a Versailles-themed culinary gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Screened in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art to coincide with their current exhibition, Nourish. Nourish will debut newly created artworks by 12 artists inspired by local food experts. Arrive early to view the exhibition with a timed ticket or be inspired to visit this free exhibition while it’s on view at MOCA through June 6.

If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast
View Virtually Tuesday, May 4–Thursday, May 6 (72 Hours)
Movie available for viewing at your convenience. Reservation required.
Thursday, May 6, 12:00 Noon, Virtual
A community conversation with special guests, to be announced shortly.
Danny Gold | 86 Minutes USA | 2017
English | Not Rated

In honor and in memory of Carl Reiner, who passed away in June 2020, the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film recognizes his remarkable seven-decade career with the screening of If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.

Reiner was a legendary comedic actor, writer, producer, and recording artist, who won 11 Emmy awards, a Grammy award for his album The 2,000 Year Old Man, and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2000. Reiner was best known as the creator, producer, writer, and actor on the Dick Van Dyke show.

In If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast, Reiner explores the secret to living into your 90s — and loving every minute of it. Reiner tracks down several celebrated nonagenarians, and a few others over 100, to show how the twilight years can truly be the happiest and most rewarding.

Keeping Up with the Steins
In partnership with Simon Family JCC Summer Camp
An outdoor movie night for families! If it rains, the movie will be a drive-in event.
Thursday, June 24
Park and Picnic 6:30 pm
Film Start 8 pm, reservation required
Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community
Scott Marshall | 90 min USA | 2006
English | Rated PG-13

Benjamin Fiedler (Daryl Sabara) has a lot to be nervous about; his bar mitzvah is fast approaching, and his parents (Jeremy Piven, Jami Gertz) are caught up in plans to make his party even more lavish than the one the Steins threw for their son. Amid his family’s debate over whether to invite an estranged grandfather (Garry Marshall), the youth solves the problem by arranging for Grandpa to arrive two weeks early.

Considered one of the quintessential Jewish coming-of-age films, Keeping Up with the Steins offers a unique experience in true retro, drive-in movie style—a multi-generational bonding experience the whole family will enjoy.