Why show Animal House at a Jewish film festival

by | Feb 16, 2018 | Other News

Wow! It is truly remarkable that the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film presented by Alma and Howard Laderberg* and Patricia and Avraham Ashkenazi has been around for a quarter of a century. That’s a long time to bring culture and entertainment to Tidewater by showing the cream of the crop in Jewish and Israeli-themed movies.

I have the dream volunteer job each year of watching more than 70 feature films, plus many short films, to select a wide variety of interesting, enjoyable, entertaining, and even thought-provoking movies that will be the focus of our Film Festival. My co-chair Mark Robbins and I have a dream team of dedicated and energetic screening committee members to assist us in our task. We do our best to bring a broad range of films from all around the world.

Our 25th annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film included 10 outstanding feature films, plus three shorts. We also had several special events at this year’s Film Festival, including the brand new, soon-to-be released Israeli thriller, Shelter; Mal Vincent’s Pick, Cabaret; producer/ screenwriter Sheldon Cohn introducing his movie, The Pickle Recipe; a tribute to local actor Stephen Furst before watching his movie, Animal House; and our first ever live jazz concert following the film, Body and Soul.

All of the wonderful films and specialty events, along with excellent attendance helped make our 25th Film Festival successful, satisfying, and memorable. We even added some new and exciting venues this year to better represent all of South Hampton Roads.

I believe that this 25th Virginia Festival of Jewish Film was the BEST EVER! Plus, the weather was on our side for once.

A few favorite memories from this year’s festival:
• Gloria Siegel’s fondest memory was Normie Sher ad-libbing their prepared Opening Night introduction remarks because he forgot his glasses.
• Rabbi Michael Panitz and Judit Roth were particularly moved by the powerful black and white Hungarian movie, 1945.
• Barry and Lois Einhorn, along with Jennifer and Larry Brown, thought that the tribute to Stephen Furst was memorable. The three guests and the video added to the crazy mood of Stephen’s Animal House.
• Jeff Rosen thought that Read the Obits, Then Eat Breakfast, was the perfect movie to show at Beth Sholom Home.
• Peter Schulman’s favorite memory was the screening of the extraordinarily moving Fanny’s Journey.

Please share your favorite memory of our 25th Virginia Festival of Jewish Film by emailing it to me at wm.laderberg@gmail.com. I promise that your comments will remain private.

I am certainly looking forward to searching out the movies for the 26th Virginia Festival of Jewish Film—after a two-month vacation.

*of blessed memory

– William Laderberg, co-chair of the 25th annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film screening committee