International Jewish Film Festival at The Levoy

Three highly-acclaimed award-winning films on diverse themes will screen at Levoy Theatre in Millville as part of the 2022 International Jewish Film Festival, which begins Wednesday, November 30.

The festival runs three consecutive Wednesdays (11/30; 12/07; and 12/14) with screenings at 7 p.m., and a matinee for school groups on Wednesday, December 7.

Funding for the festival has been made possible in part by New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders through the Cumberland County Cultural & Heritage Commission.

The three films, The Last Suit, My Name is Sara, and Our (Almost Completely True) Story will introduce cinemagoers to themes common to many international films, but not widely screened in smaller, regional cinema markets in this community and elsewhere.

“These three acclaimed and enjoyable films, co-productions between Argentina, Poland, Ukraine, Spain, and the United States, offer perspectives on life that are both humorous and melancholy,” said Jewish Federation executive director Kirk Wisemayer. “You will laugh and cry, but you will also identify with how the human spirit deals with life’s changes, good and bad, and the challenges the world places before us.”

“We are immensely proud the festival continues to present groundbreaking films to local audiences each year”, said Dr. Michael Sarnoff, who chaired the festival’s inaugural run in 2008, and has attended every year since. “Thanks to the support of our audience and sponsors, our local film festival has grown into the premier international film festival in our corner of New Jersey.”

Tickets are $10 for adults for one film, $16 for any two films, and $18 for all. Admission is free to students with student ID. Tickets are available through Jewish Federation at 856-696-4445 or may be purchased the night of each film at Levoy Theatre.

An opening night cocktail reception for ticket holders will take place November 30, at 6 p.m., at Levoy Theatre prior to the screening of The Last Suit, and a closing night dessert reception on December 14, following the screening of Our (Almost Completely True) Story.

The year’s festival lineup promises cinemagoers a moving and meaningful experience, one that addresses universal themes through an artistic lens. The films to be screened and the dates they will screen are:

• The Last Suit, Wednesday, November 30 at 7 p.m., with Opening Night reception at 6 p.m.

Written and directed by Pablo Solarz, and starring Miguel Ángel Solá, this poignant 2017 release from Argentina, Poland, and Spain, tells the story of Abraham Bursztein, an 88 year-old Jewish tailor, who runs away from Buenos Aires to Poland. Fueled by a sense of duty, and a quest for closure and fulfillment, Abraham decides the moment has come to fulfill a promise and seek out an old friend. With assistance from a cast of kindly strangers, the sharply dressed suit maker travels by train across Europe from Spain to Poland, in search of the man who saved him from certain death at Auschwitz. Undeterred by a series of mishaps, family foibles, and geographical obstacles along the way, the hard edges of the cantankerous Abraham gradually soften. (Polish and Spanish languages, with English subtitles, 86 minutes).

• My Name is Sara, Wednesday, December 7 at 7 p.m.

The true life-story of Sara Góralnik, who, after escaping a Jewish Ghetto in Poland and losing her family at the outset of the Holocaust, hides in plain sight, passing as an Orthodox Christian in the Ukrainian countryside, where she is taken in by a farmer and his young wife. She soon discovers the dark secrets of her employers’ marriage, compounding the greatest secret she must strive to protect, her own identity. An outstanding performance in the lead role by Polish high school student, Zuzanna Surowy, with no previous acting experience, the film has received awards at the Miami, Sao Paolo, Warsaw Jewish film festivals and India’s International Film Festival. A USA/Poland production in association with USC Shoah Foundation, released in 2019. (English language, 112 minutes).

Our (Almost Completely True) Story, Wednesday, December 14 at 7 p.m., followed by dessert reception.

This 2022 American comedy, directed by Don Scardino and written by Mariette Hartley and Jerry Sroka, who also perform the two lead roles, depicts the challenges to finding true love in Hollywood. A search that has always been challenging, it is even more difficult when you are no longer a young starlet, no matter how many movie-star friends you have or how many ‘Gunsmoke’ episodes you did. If you are a short funnyman with a face for radio, well, you can practically forget it. Still, true love can happen. A statuesque film icon and a Jewish leprechaun might just fall forever-after in love if the stars align just right, and she laughs at his jokes. (English language, 92 minutes).

For more information on this year’s film festival, tickets, and sponsorship opportunities, call Jewish Federation at 856-696-4445 or e-mail her at nechama@jewishcumberland.org