Category Archives: Religion

Books posted on my Jewish Books blog in March 2016

"How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?" by Tahneer OksmanHere is the list of books that made it here during the month of March 2016:

Articles added to filmandreligion.com in 2015

http://www.filmandreligion.com/I started the FilmAndReligion.com site a a school project 11 years ago, but recently haven’t done much with it. I plan to revive it, or at least add more content to it. If I succeed I will post monthly summary of updates here, just like I do with my JewishBookWorld.org and JewishFilmFestivals.org sites. Meanwhile below is the short list of scholarly articles I added to it in 2015. Most of them are fresh (or were last year), but I also did some historical research and added a few from the 1970’s.

  1. ” And You Were There”: A Trip Down the Yellow Brick Road with the Academic Study of Religion by Laurel Zwissler (2014-10)
  2. Anti-Feminism in Recent Apocalyptic Film by Joel W. Martin (2000-04)
  3. The Apocalyptic Cosmology of Star Wars by John Lyden (2000-04)
  4. Appalachia on Film: “The Making of” Sergeant York by David D. Lee (1981-04)
  5. Armageddon at the Millennial Dawn by Conrad Ostwalt (2000-04)
  6. Beyond the limits of the law: a Christological reading of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight by Timothy D Petersa (2015-10)
  7. The Binding of Abraham: Inverting the Akedah in Fail-Safe and WarGames by Hunter B. Dukes (2015-01)
  8. Blood-Suckers! The Concepts Revisionist and Anti-revisionist Mythology Introduced by the Vampire- and Werewolf-tetralogy Underworld (2003-2012) by Stefan L. Arvidsson (2014-10)
  9. Broken by God: Fate and Divine Intervention in Breaking the Waves by James Martel (2015-04)
  10. Bruce Willis as the Messiah: Human Effort, Salvation and Apocalypticism in Twelve Monkeys by Frances Flannery Dailey (2000-04)
  11. Cannibalism, Communion, and Multifaith Sacrifice in the Novel and Film Life of Pi by Michael Thorn (2015-03)
  12. Children of Men’s Ambient Apocalyptic Visions by Marcus O’Donnell (2015-03)
  13. Climbing a ladder to heaven. Gnostic vision of the world in Jacob’s Ladder (1990) by Fryderyk Kwiatkowski (2015-10)
  14. Close Encounters: The Gospel According to Steven Spielberg by Andrew Gordon (1980-04)
  15. Cloud Atlas’ Queer Tiki Kitsch: Polynesians, Settler Colonialism, and Sci-Fi Film by Gabriel S. Estrada (2014-10)
  16. Con Men and a Conned Society: Religion in Contemporary American Cinema by John R. May (1977-07)
  17. Confirmation of Prophecy by Proxy: Audience Anticipation and Reception of the 2014 Movie Left Behind and its Relevance to the Dispensational Premillennialist Worldview by Andrew R. Burns (2015-05)
  18. The Conversion of the Jews by Lester Friedman (1981-07)
  19. Cults, Cant, and Converts: An Ideological Issue in Xena:Warrior Princess by Wim Tigges (2015-03)
  20. Decoding the mise -en -scène of contemporary secular spirituality: a research monograph. Part I: context, approach and relevant literature by Graham Rossiter (2014-07)
  21. Deliverance: Four Variations of the American Adam by Robert Armour (1973-07)
  22. Derek Jarman’s Renaissance and The Devils (1971) by Rowland Wymer (2014-10)
  23. Discrimination towards Nasira as a Muslim woman and Rochel as an orthodox Jewish woman reflected in Arranged by Tri Wasiul Hakim (2013-06)
  24. Dystopian narratives and humanism. what a zombie makeover really looks like by Jordan Ryan Goings (2015-03)
  25. Eucharistic Imagery in Film: Two Patterns of Usage by Caesar A. Montevecchio (2015-01)
  26. Evil Looks Right Back at You: Portrayals of Catholicism in American Horror Story: Asylum by Mariana Colin (2015-05)
  27. An Evil Threat to Marriage, Children and the Future: Queer Theory, “The Passion of the Christ,” and Evangelical Political Rhetoric by Richard Wolff (2015-01)
  28. The Failure of a Pseudo-Christian Community in a Nation-State in Crisis: 28 Days Later by Karl E. Martin (2014-10)
  29. Faith Under the Fedora: Indiana Jones and the Heroic Journey Towards God by Chris Yogerst (2014-10)
  30. Faith, Doubt, and Chiasmus in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Decalogue I by William Bartley (2014-10)
  31. Firefly – So “pretty” it could not die by Michael W. Marek (2008-02)
  32. Gabriel, Abortion, and Anti-Annunciation in The Prophecy, Constantine, and Legion by Jeffrey M. Tripp (2015-03)
  33. The Gendering of Pastors in Contemporary Nordic Films: Norms, Conventions and Contemporary Views by Sofia Sjö (2015-10)
  34. The Ha-Ha Holocaust: Exploring Levity Amidst the Ruins and Beyond in Testimony, Literature and Film by Aviva Atlani (2014-11)
  35. Holocaust Humor, Satire, and Parody on Israeli Television by Liat Steir-Livny (2015-08)
  36. ” Holy Book of Job, Batman!” by Little Raven (2015-06)
  37. How to Be a Genuine Fake: Her, Alan Watts, and the Problem of the Self by David L. Smith (2014-10)
  38. ” I Ain’t So Sure but What the Lord Done Put These Folks in Our Path for a Reason”: Latter-day Saints Building Communities Through Dancing in John Ford’s Wagon Master by Ian Dwayne Pettigrew (2015-10)
  39. I Dream, Therefore I Am: What Dreams May Come by Susan L. Schwartz (2000-04)
  40. ” If you can hold on…”: counter-apocalyptic play in Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales by Marcus O’Donnell (2014-10)
  41. Imperialism in New Testament films by Jeremy Punt (2014-12)
  42. Iranian Women, Iranian Cinema: Negotiating with Ideology and Tradition by Najmeh Moradiyan Rizi (2015-01)
  43. Is Slumdog Millionaire a Retelling of the Ramayana?
    by William L. Blizek (2015-10)
  44. Islam in Turkish Cinema by Bilal Yorulmaz and William L. Blizek (2014-10)
  45. John Huston’s Wise Blood (1980) : On Southern prophets and con men by Anne-Marie Paquet-Deyris (2015-07)
  46. Joseph McBride on Three Godfathers by Joseph McBride (1973-07)
  47. ” Like You Could Read What Was Inside of Me”: Genocide, Hermeneutics, and Religion in The Wizard of Oz by Ken Derry (2014-10)
  48. Make Way for Youth: The American Jewish Committee and the Social Problem Film by Art Simon (2013-10)
  49. Media Review: Bollywood Religious Comedy: An Inaugural Humor-neutics by Sheila J. Nayar (2015-07)
  50. The Menace of the Religious Movie by A. W. Tozer (1974-01)
  51. Missionaries, modernity and the moving image: re-presenting the Melanesian Other to Christian communities in the West between the World Wars by Stella Ramage (2015-02)
  52. Modern Mythology: 2001 AD: A Space Odyssey by John M. Hood (1974-03)
  53. The Movie Mogul, Moses and Muslims: Islamic Elements in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956) by Michael D. Calabria OFM (2015-01)
  54. Muslims in Film and Muslim Filmmaking in the United States by Hussein Rashid (2014-12)
  55. Myth, Religion, and the Man Behind the Curtain by Michael Ostling (2014-10)
  56. The Non-Place between Sacred and Profane: Utopian Gestures in the Apparatus of Semiocapitalism in Laurent Cantet’s L’emploi du temps by Tamas Nagypal (2015-01)
  57. On Teaching “Jesus in Fiction and Film” by Darren J. N. Middleton (2015-04)
  58. A Path Less Traveled: Rethinking Spirituality in the Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky by Adam Breckenridge (2015-10)
  59. ” People in Hell Want Slurpees”: The Redefinition of the Zombie Genre through the Salvific Portrayal of Family on AMC’s The Walking Dead by Joshua D. Ambrosius & Joseph M. Valenzano III (2015-04)
  60. Personal Identity and Angelic Touch in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire by Chris Venner (2015-01)
  61. Puerile Patriarchs of an Infantilized God. Mythological Meme Mutations in Contemporary Cinema by Doru Pop (2015-07)
  62. Recognition and Rejection of Sikh Identity in Film by Geetanjali Singh Chanda (2014-08)
  63. The Rejection of Rationalism in Recent Science Fiction Films by Lane Roth (1981-06)
  64. Religion and film in American culture: the birth of a nation by Krzysztof Jozajtis (2001-06)
  65. Religion and the Anzac Legend on Screen by Daniel Reynaud (2015-04)
  66. Religion, Education and The West Wing by Diane Corkery (2014-10)
  67. Religious Films in Zimbabwean Contexts by Adam T. Shreve (2015-07)
  68. Religious Tourism and TV Serials: the Case of Two Italian Papal Birthplaces by Lorenzo Bagnoli and Rita Capurro (2014-12)
  69. Religious Transcendence and the Horizons of Culture: Observations on the Role of Religion in American Film by W. Richard Comstock (1981-10)
  70. Representation of the Apocalypse in Hollywood Cinema by Dr. Abbas Assadi, Rahime Zeynali (2015-03)
  71. The Resurrection Days Are Over: Resurrection from Doctor Who to Torchwood by Jim Clarke (2015-03)
  72. Revisiting The Ghosts of Vatican II: Gender in Catholic Horror Cinema of the American 60s and 70s by Currie Dixon McKinley (2015-05)
  73. Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still Part I: A Religious Film? by Anton Karl Kozlovic (2013-10)
  74. The Seventh Seal by John C. Stubbs (1975-04)
  75. Star Wars, the Future and Christian Eschatology by D. W. Ingersoll Jr., J. M. Nickell, C. D. Lewis (1980-11)
  76. Stars, Light, and Finding the Way Home: Jewish Characters in Contemporary Film and Television by Terry Barr (1993-08)
  77. Television vampire fandom and religion by Minja Bloom (2013-06)
  78. Temporality in Ancient and Contemporary Revelations: Hypermasculinity and Violence in the Book of Revelation and Donnie Darko by Alexander Cox-Twardowski (2014-08)
  79. ” There’s No Place Like Home”: An American Koan by David L. Smith (2014-10)
  80. Trauma, Guilt, and Ethics in BeTipul and In Treatment: The Universalist Approach and (Jewish) Particularism of Psychoanalysis in Transnational Television by Michaela Wuensch (2015-08)
  81. True Love’s Kiss and Happily Ever After: the religion of love in American film by Jyoti Raghu (2015-08)
  82. Ulak (The Messenger): a mystic fable of Islamic messianism by Ebru Thwaites Dikena (2015-10)
  83. Undoing the Claim of Objectivity: Contradictions at the Heart of Bergtji van der Haak, Saudi Solutions (2005) by Anisa Saeed Mohammed Nasser (2015-01)
  84. ” We Are Legion”: Primal Dreams and Screams in the Satanic Screen by Carrol L. Fry (2015-10)
  85. What the Frak, Frankenstein! Teenagers, Gods, and Postcolonial Monsters on Caprica by James H. Thrall (2015-07)
  86. When Church and Cinema Combine: Blurring Boundaries through Media-savvy Evangelicalism by Deborah Justice (2014-02)
  87. William Blake’s Jerusalem and the Los Angeles of Film Noir by Harold Henry Hellwig (2014-01)
  88. Woody Allen, Theologian by John Dart (1977-06)

Films added in February 2016 to JewishFilmFestivals.org

Poster for Karski & The Lords of Humanity / Karski i wladcy ludzkosciIn the month of February I added 85  films to Jewish Film Festivals. Some of them are old, others are new. There are shorts, feature films, documentaries and TV series among them. In the list below I used the English title for all them, but many of them are from other countries. The only thing common in them is that they were all shown at one more Jewish Film Festival. I hope you will find some interesting one films here:

  1. 18 Voices Sing Kol Nidre (2012, 40 min)
  2. The 81st Blow / Ha-Makah Hashmonim V’Echad (1975, 115 min)
  3. A Prayer for Aliyah (2012, 27 min)
  4. The A Word (2010, 105 min)
  5. Absent God (2014, 68 min)
  6. The Amazing Charleroux (2011, 10 min)
  7. Ash and Hopes – My Struggle to Survive / Cenizas y esperanzas – Mi lucha por sobrevivir (2014, 28 min)
  8. Beqassor (1950, 120 min)
  9. Bike for the Fight (2013, 25 min)
  10. Bogdan’s Journey (2016, 90 min)
  11. The Building Across (2012, 5 min)
  12. Café Nagler (2015, 59 min)
  13. The Cake (2013, 5 min)
  14. Chantal Akerman, From Here / Chantal Akerman, de cá (2010, 61 min)
  15. The Details (2013, 5 min)
  16. The Diary of Anne Frank / Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank (2016, 128 min)
  17. The Dreamers (2011, 57 min)
  18. The Escape (2013, 74 min)
  19. Evan Kaufmann: Fathers’ Land (2012, 10 min)
  20. Everything Is Copy (2015, 89 min)
  21. Filme sobre um Bom Fim / Film about a Good End (2015, 88 min)
  22. Flames in the Ashes / Pnei Hamered (1987, 96 min)
  23. For Sabbath (2015, 11 min)
  24. Frog and Toad Together (2016, 30 min)
  25. Front of the Class (2008, 95 min) Buy/Watch
  26. The Gambling Man (2012, 24 min)
  27. Gedenk – A new generation remembers / Guedenk – Una nueva generación recuerda (2015, 55 min)
  28. Gerda’s Silence / Gerdas Schweigen (2008, 95 min) Buy/Watch
  29. God’s Messengers (2015, 76 min)
  30. Gold Will Set You Free / Oro Macht Frei (2013, 70 min)
  31. Greenhorn (2015, 25 min)
  32. Hands of Flame (2014, 9 min)
  33. Historia Kowalskich (2009, 70 min)
  34. Hotel Lux (2011, 102 min) Buy/Watch
  35. I Want to be a Boarder (1937, 15 min)
  36. Incognito (2015, 11 min)
  37. Jerusalem of Steel (2005, 5 min)
  38. The Jester / Der Purimspiler (1937, 90 min)
  39. Karski & The Lords of Humanity / Karski i wladcy ludzkosci (2015, 72 min)
  40. Ladies’ Tailor / Damiskiy Portnoy (1990, 92 min)
  41. The Last Sea / Ha-Yam Ha’Aharon (1984, 100 min)
  42. León, Reflections of a Passion / León, reflejos de una pasión (2015, 70 min)
  43. Less Than One (2014, 6 min)
  44. Lev Haaretz / Ramleh (2001, 58 min)
  45. Line 41 / Linie 41 (2015, 101 min)
  46. Mama Doni’s Jewish Holiday Party (2013, 70 min) Buy/Watch
  47. Menazka (The Pot) (2015, 49 min)
  48. The Monaco Watch / L’orologio di Monaco (2014, 63 min)
  49. Monumento (2016, 80 min)
  50. My Angel / Mon Ange (2014, 22 min)
  51. My Emo Life (2015, 48 min)
  52. Neil Diamond: Solitary Man (2010, 60 min)
  53. A Night at the Opera (1935, 96 min) Buy/Watch
  54. Nina’s Barn (2015, 55 min)
  55. NYC Life (2015, 8 min)
  56. The Pale of Settlement (2013, 18 min)
  57. Passover Fever / Leylasede (1995, 100 min) Buy/Watch
  58. Pawn Sacrifice (2014, 115 min) Buy/Watch
  59. Peeping Toms / Metzitzim (1973, 90 min) Buy/Watch
  60. The Pickle Recipe (2016, 97 min)
  61. Reflection (2013, 4 min)
  62. Returning to Light / Volviendo a la Luz (2009, 52 min)
  63. Rewriting History (2012, 80 min)
  64. Russendisko (2012, 100 min) Buy/Watch
  65. Sand Storm / Sufat Chol (2016, 97 min)
  66. Sashenka (2011, 9 min)
  67. The Settlers (2016, 120 min)
  68. Shattered Rhymes (2014, 63 min)
  69. Shore of Love / Shati el gharam (1950, 105 min)
  70. So Israel is Eating / So isst Israel (2015, 90 min)
  71. A Song of Loves: R. David Buzaglo (2015, 60 min)
  72. Subte (Subway): Polska (2015, 98 min)
  73. Taxman (1999, 104 min) Buy/Watch
  74. Tevya (1939, 93 min)
  75. Thank You for Calling / Je compte sur vous (2015, 98 min)
  76. That Bites!: a Documentary About Food Allergies Made by a 12 year old Boy (2015, 46 min)
  77. A Third Way – Settlers and Palestinians as Neighbors (2015, 70 min)
  78. Thy Father’s Chair (2015, 74 min)
  79. Trembling Before G-d (2001, 94 min) Buy/Watch
  80. Tunnel of Hope (2015, 88 min)
  81. Uri Avneri: A Warrior for Peace / Hanadon: Uri Avneri (2002, 75 min)
  82. Welcome (2009, 110 min) Buy/Watch
  83. Wild West Hebron / Maaravon B’Har Hebron (2013, 95 min)
  84. Wings of Change (2016, 53 min)
  85. Zaguri Empire (2014, 40 min)

Books posted on my Jewish Books blog in February 2016

Cover for Books posted in February 2016 I have a blog about Jewish books. Most of the time I post about new books, sometimes about events, book sales or older books. Here is the list of books that made it there during the month of February 2016:

  1. Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
  2. Athar by Shlomo Kalo
  3. The Beautiful Possible by Amy Gottlieb
  4. Béla’s Letters by Jeff Ingber
  5. The Bible Doesn’t Say That: 40 Biblical Mistranslations, Misconceptions, and Other Misunderstandings by Joel M. Hoffman
  6. The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories: Seeking Jewish Narrative All Over the World by Irene Shaland
  7. The Dream of Zion: The Story of the First Zionist Congress by Lawrence J. Epstein
  8. Elisha Davidson and the Ispaklaria by M.R. Attar
  9. Finding Home: In the Footsteps of the Jewish Fusgeyers by Jill Culiner
  10. From Sinai to Ethiopia by Sharon Shalom
  11. Groucho Marx: The Comedy of Existence by Lee Siegel
  12. Hare and Tortoise Race Across Israel by Laura Gehl
  13. Holocaust Cinema in the Twenty-First Century: Images, Memory, and the Ethics of Representation by Gerd Bayer and Oleksandr Kobrynskyy
  14. How the Jews Defeated Hitler by Benjamin Ginsberg
  15. In the Land of Armadillos: Stories by Helen Maryles Shankman
  16. Israel’s Edge: The Story of The IDF’s Most Elite Unit – Talpiot by Jason Gewirtz
  17. Janusz Korczak: Sculptor of Children’s Souls by Marcia Talmage Schneider
  18. Jewish Prayer Texts from the Cairo Genizah by Stefan C. Reif
  19. Jewish Stories of Wisdom by Patrick Fischmann
  20. Levi & Aya by Shoshana Banana
  21. Max Baer and the Star of David by Jay Neugeboren
  22. Mazal Tov, Amigos! Jews and Popular Music in the Americas by Amalia Ran and Moshe Morad
  23. Modernizing Jewish Education in Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe by Mordechai Zalkin
  24. My Aunt Manya by Jose Patterson
  25. Our Jewish Robot Future by Leonard Borman
  26. Piece of Mind by Michelle Adelman
  27. Putting God Second: How to Save Religion from Itself by Donniel Hartman
  28. Scattered Among The Nations by Bryan Schwartz
  29. Sister of Zion by Ruth Danon
  30. Soul Mazal: In the beginning by David Katz
  31. Stolen Words: The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books by Mark Glickman
  32. Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War by Ian Buruma
  33. Women’s Hebrew Poetry on American Shores: Poems by Anne Kleiman and Annabelle Farmelant
  34. Yearning to Breathe Free: My Parents’ Fight to Reunite during the Holocaust by Murray Jack Lauicht with Peter Weisz
  35. The Yid by Paul Goldberg
  36. The Zohar Pritzker Edition, Volume Ten by Daniel C. Matt

Film Review: In Search of Israeli Cuisine (2016, Israel, 97 min)

Poster for In Search of Israeli CuisineTake one part of each: travelogue, anthropology, cooking show, business study, biography, add a whole lotta color and spice and you just created the movie In Search of Israeli Cuisine. You also need some cash, so you ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and then turned it into a PBS movie and you are still accepting donations through the Jewish Journal. If you did all this your name is Roger Sherman, the director, writer and Michael Solomonov, the chef/guide of the film.

Let’s look at the ingredients. We are taken to all corners of Israel and as can be seen on the intercut map it happens in a non-linear way. We don’t see much more of the country than the selected restaurants or homes of restaurateurs, but even this limited view ensures that we become aware the geographical and visual diversity of the country. It is also an ethnographic study. If you want to define and identify the cuisine of such a country, that consists of or comes from scores of ethnicities you kind of have to dig into their stories. It is done through participatory observations as we get into people’s identities through their home and commercial kitchen.

Not a single recipe presented in its full detail in the movie, but it is still very much a cooking show. We learn lots of details, tricks, secrets on how certain items are created, but only based on the information gained here you wouldn’t be able to cook any of them. Mr. Sherman is a restaurateur himself, so he was interested in the business aspect of “Israeli cuisine”. We hear about trends in the changes of Israeli taste, the importance of location, and how the industry has changed over the decades. We also learn about Solomonov himself, his background, his brother’s death and what made him search for his identity.

None of these academic details matter though as much as the fantastic, foods, places and people he discovered for us, the wider audience. From simple whole-in-the-wall places to posh over-the top eating palaces almost everyone emphasized the importance of using local, wholesome ingredients. And they sure looked succulent. Some may find the movie bit long. It isn’t exactly repetitive, but a bit of editing would have improved the cinematic experience. I, though, enjoyed every minute of it. My only regret is that I couldn’t taste it. I wish someone would invent an extension where you could taste what’s cooking on the screen. This film would be the first one I would try that out with.

Links:

  • Official site
  • Facebook page
  • IMDB summary: A portrait of the Israeli people told through food. We shot in fine restaurants, in home kitchens, wineries, cheese makers, on the street and much more. Americans see Israelis and Palestinians as always in conflict. Those are not the people of Israel for the most part. “The Search for Israeli Cuisine” will show the 70+ cultures that make up the Israeli people, each with wonderful and unique food traditions. Israel has one of the hottest food scenes in the world. Getting into restaurants in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is as difficult as New York or San Francisco. Viewers will be amazed and impressed.
  • Trailer:

* As a member of the committee helping to put on the Jewish Film Festival, organized by the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County, I preview movies to help decide which ones to play at the Festival. I watched this movie as part of this volunteer effort.

** Crossposted at Jewishfilmfestivals.org

Film review: Once in a Lifetime / Les héritiers (2014, France, 105 min)

Poster for Once in a Lifetime / Les héritiersIf this is the first movie you saw in the genre of “rambunctious and diverse class of teenagers encounter an inspiring teacher and through a transformative experience come together and change for the better” you will really enjoy it. But if you’ve seen one or more of this type you will find the storyline a bit predictable. The “experience”, this is quasi-remedial class goes through is the participation in a national contest and creating a presentation on the topic of “Children and adolescents in the Nazi concentration camp system“. Almost all of the kids, many of them Muslims to various degree, end up getting interested in the topic and not just set aside their differences, but work together to create their collective project. This is admirable, but my skeptical mind found it unrealistic, that only one and a half student of the whole class opted out. (Even the “one” gets a positive nod at the end and the “half” ends up joining the group halfway through.) Looks like the filmmakers took the perspective that peer pressure is so strong that almost nobody wants to be in the “outgroup”.

I was a bit confused on how old these kids were supposed to be. In the opening seen we saw two students who (more or less) graduated and they were talking about their “baccalaureat”, which in my mind converted to a BA, the degree that in the US most students get after finishing a four year college. Then we saw the new class, and most of them looked about 18 years old to me. But their maturity level was much lower than that of college students. So I had to check and confirmed that “Lycée“, the type of school this movie is set in is a form of secondary institution, i.e. high-school. Don’t be fooled who old these kids look like. They are supposed to be 16-17-ish.

There are good reasons why they looked so old. First of all the “actor”, who played Malik, one of the students, was 20, and was actually part of the class, based on whose true story the film was based on. He, Ahmed Dramé, wrote the script based on his own experience. Second, many of the youth in the movie was played by students of the Lycee it was shot in. Third they were not freshmen, but in the “junior” class which is the same in the US system, the third year of high-school.

There are numerous subthemes such as the French national debate on religious clothing, diversity of personal background in terms of family and socio-economical status, questions of respect and authority, self-confidence and of course the issue of how to teach Holocaust. The latter was helped by a Shoah survivor, who played himself, Leon Zyguel. As part of his teaching he read to the class the Buchenwald Oath, that many in that concentration camp took. It partly reads:

We will take up the fight until the last culprit stands before the judges of the people. Our watchword is the destruction of Nazism from its roots. Our goal is to build a new world of peace and freedom. This is our responsibility to our murdered friends and their relatives.

Thus a main message of the movie is that this task is perpetual and every generation has to take it up.

Links:

  • DVD@ Amazon.com
  • Official site
  • IMDB summary: The fact based story of a class of schoolchildren, teenagers, in a, from the look of it, mixed ethnic district of Paris, who’s teacher decides to enter them in a competition to examine the holocaust from the point of view of its impact on young people. It contains some very emotional scenes and chronicles the change in the opinions and interactions of a typical class of adolescents.
  • Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/CdvhyY1_rxw

* As a member of the committee helping to put on the Jewish Film Festival, organized by the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County, I preview movies to help decide which ones to play at the Festival. I watched this movie as part of this volunteer effort.

** Crossposted at Jewishfilmfestivals.org

Film Review: Women in Sink (2015)

Women in SinkThe title of movie, Women in Sink,  is a clever pun, intended to show how similar the women are who frequent a hair salon. Let me add another water related quote from Rumi: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.” On one hand the entire movie is based on deliberate mental comparisons. Iris Zaki, the 36 minutes long film’s director and writer (and ladies’ junior hairwasher) shows the heads of women after women in the same position, in the sink, as their hair is getting washed. As there is nothing else to look at than the same sink with various human heads interchanging in it we, the viewers, make the strong connection that we humans are all the same, despite our apparent differences, such as religion, ethnicity or language.

On the other hand this limited view forces us to listen harder to what the women have to say, hence the viewing experience becomes a compare and contrast exercise. Despite their obvious differences even their words end up being similar to each other. Yes, we get to know individual paths of lives. But at the end a basic theme emerges: every single one of them has the same want: a simple, happy life.

Back to Rumi: These women formed a community, whether they knew it or not. The filmmaker sometimes tried to set them up by asking provocative questions. The women almost always answered and through their honesty what came through time after time was that they were wise for not falling for it. Strong emotions not withstanding their perspective always focused on their individual livies and rarely let history and politics interfere with it more than it had to. They were all their own “oceans” (in a black sink).

There are enough shots of the inside of, the neighborhood of, and the workers in the hair salon, that the movie doesn’t get monotonous. My curiosity for technical details was also satisfied in the last shot that shows the disassembling of the gear that allowed to take the interesting overhead shots. After watching this movie I felt like its subjects were feeling too after their treatments: refreshed and optimistic.

Links:

  • Page at Jewishfilmfestivals.org
  • Official site
  • Facebook page
  • IMDB
  • Summary: It is the story of a little hair salon in the heart of the Arab community in Haifa (Israel); it is the story of a friendship between Arab and Jewish women in the city, which is considered a model of coexistence; and it is the story of Iris, the director, who worked as a hair washer at the salon so she could get to know women of the neighbourhood. Through her interaction with the women, in this unique frame, Iris wishes to tell the story of the community from the personal experience of the film’s subjects, and to explore what it reflects of Israeli society.
  • Trailer:

* As a member of the committee helping to put on the Jewish Film Festival, organized by the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County, I preview movies to help decide which ones to play at the Festival. I watched this movie as part of this volunteer effort.

** Crossposted at jewishfilmfestivals.org

East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem (2014, Israel)

East Jerusalem/West JerusalemSometimes it is hard to separate essence and style. In the case of the documentary titled “East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem I fully agree with its message of positivity and humanity. I agree with the idea that personal connections between people of any kind is a preventive method of avoiding or reducing conflict. And music is a universal, essential and fun way to connect. In short the idea and execution of the movie (“let’s make music together and build peace through connecting parts of the city/cultures”) is close to my heart.

I even like the sound of the songs the people involved in making the record created, although it is far from my preferred musical styles. What alienated me from the film was the words and styles of the main people in it. For me they were too sugary-hippy-naive. They were children of the 60’s and used the lingo of that peace-loving era. For me their words and lyrics not just sounded archaic, but also out-of-time. So much happened in the world, be it music or politics, since their formative years, that that style of thinking and singing seems surpassed. It was dripping with well-intentioned love, but was too syrupy for me to enjoy. I do not doubt its authenticity, even admire it. Just can’t listen to it for too long, without feeling distanced from the people uttering it. To put it in another way: this film will work really well for people who got socialized in that era.

The movie’s principal characters face their own naivety in the scene, where they encounter hordes of young Jews shouting “Death to the Arabs” and a few Arabs shouting back “Death to the Jews”. They have their doubts, but they are not afraid to explore them and are aware that occasionally they need to step outside from the hate-filled atmosphere to maintain their love for peace and understanding. This capacity of and practice for self-reflection is one the things that make the film valuable. 

The other is the long lasting effect. Beside actually managing to record all 13 songs for the record, they also initiated a monthly music camp for kids in the only refugee camp within Jerusalem’s borders:  Shuafat. The fun and creative outlet they provide for the kids is the best outcome of the whole venture.

Having talked, about my reservations and preferences I have to mention that as a film this is excellent work. Well edited, providing a good balance of footage in the sound studio, vignettes from Jerusalem’s life, background information and interviews of the musicians and singers. It was a pleasure to watch it and learn about people(s) I would probably never encounter in my life.

Links:

  • Official site
  • IMDB summary: David Broza, the Israeli singer-songwriter, sets out to realize his dream of cooperation and dialog between Israelis and Palestinians through music. During 8 days and nights of joint creation in an East Jerusalem studio a hopeful message of equality and unity arises.
  • The CD on Amazon.com
  • Trailer:

* As a member of the committee helping to put on the Jewish Film Festival, organized by the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County, I preview movies to help decide which ones to play at the Festival. I watched this movie as part of this volunteer effort.

** Crossposted at jewishfilmfestivals.org

Films added in January 2016 to JewishFilmFestivals.org

And Then, ViolenceIn the month of January I added 116 films to Jewish Film Festivals. Some of them are old, others are new. There are shorts, feature films, documentaries and TV series among them. In the list below I used the English title for all them, but many of them are from other countries. The only thing common in them is that they were all shown at one more Jewish Film Festival. I hope you will find some interesting one films here:

  1. Our Big Time – Blutsbrüder teilen alles (2012, 88 min.)
  2. That Bubble of Being – Chava Rosenfarb: Dos blesele wor (2015, 75 min.)
  3. What a Wonderful Place – Eize Makom Nifla (2005, 104 min.)
  4. Third Person – Guf Shlishi (2015, 57 min.)
  5. Mountain – Ha’har (2015, 83 min.)
  6. Goodbye Theresienstadt – Jødernes flugt (2013, 59 min.)
  7. ALife for Football – Landauer – Der Präsident (2014, 89 min.)
  8. Naked Among Wolves – Nackt unter Wölfen (2015, 105 min.)
  9. Eagles – Nevelot (2012, 99 min.)
  10. The Last Cyclist – Poslední cyklista (2014, 83 min.)
  11. They Were Promised the Sea – Pour Une Nouvelle Seville (2013, 74 min.)
  12. Time to Say Goodbye – Simon sagt ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ zu seiner Vorhaut (2015, 82 min.)
  13. The Cremator – Spalovac mrtvol (1969, 95 min.) Buy/watch
  14. Persona Non Grata – Sugihara Chiune (2015, 139 min.)
  15. On Tour with Pina Bausch / One Day Pina Asked Me – Un jour Pina a demandé… (1983, 57 min.)
  16. 800 Jews from Our Town (2015, 28 min.)
  17. All These Voices (2015, 15 min.)
  18. And Then, Violence (2016, 15 min.)
  19. Any Day Now (2012, 98 min.) Buy/watch
  20. The Baby (2012, 85 min.)
  21. Backgammon (2014, 68 min.)
  22. Bacon & God’s Wrath (2015, 8 min.)
  23. Barash (2015, 81 min.)
  24. Black Jews: The roots of the Olive Tree (2015, 56 min.)
  25. Blue Like Me: The Art of Siona Benjamin (2015, 28 min.)
  26. Born Allies (2014, 17 min.)
  27. The Caborca Jew: A Mexican Story (2014, 58 min.)
  28. Camp Story (2013, 26 min.)
  29. Cheftzi On Air (2006, 22 min.)
  30. Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank (2014, 87 min.) Buy/watch
  31. The Consul of Bordeaux (2011, 90 min.) Buy/watch
  32. Dancing in the Ashes (2012, 18 min.)
  33. Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary (2014, 95 min.)
  34. Enter the Faun (2015, 68 min.)
  35. Estamos Aqui: Here We Are (2013, 84 min.)
  36. Etoile (2014, 9 min.)
  37. Every Tuesday: A Portrait of the New Yorker Cartoonists (2011, 22 min.)
  38. Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story (2012, 98 min.) Buy/watch
  39. Feelings Are Facts: The Life of Yvonne Rainer (2015, 86 min.)
  40. Fluchkes (2011, 54 min.) Buy/watch
  41. Forgiven Is Not Forgotten (2012, 10 min.)
  42. Generations of the Shoah: The Sigmund A. Rolat Story (2013, 14 min.)
  43. The Girl on the Train (2013, 80 min.) Buy/watch
  44. The Green Park (2015, 65 min.)
  45. Halabudka (2016, 11 min.)
  46. Holy City (2015, 3 min.)
  47. The House on the Water (2012, 25 min.)
  48. How Not to Say I Love You?… (2014, 20 min.)
  49. The Hulk (2015, 12 min.)
  50. In Our Eyes (2015, 3 min.)
  51. Jonah (2013, 17 min.)
  52. Kids of the Rocket Siren (2013, 18 min.)
  53. Layla (2013, 7 min.)
  54. Let’s Dance! (2012, 103 min.)
  55. The Light Ahead (1939, 94 min.)
  56. Lo Bashamayim Hi (G-dcast) (2012, 5 min.)
  57. Lonely at the Top: A Bromance (G-dcast) (2012, 4 min.)
  58. The Mamboniks (2015, 84 min.)
  59. The Man Who Buried His Own Leg (2013, 4 min.)
  60. Man Who Made Anglels Fly (2013, 64 min.)
  61. Marathon Man (1976, 125 min.) Buy/watch
  62. Master of the Good Name (2014, 80 min.)
  63. Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (2013, 90 min.) Buy/watch
  64. Miriam Beerman: Expressing the Chaos (2015, 53 min.)
  65. Morgenthau (2015, 107 min.)
  66. The Mystery of San Nicandro (2012, 67 min.)
  67. Nazi Boots (2015, 6 min.)
  68. The New Woman: Annie Londonderry Kopchovsky (2013, 27 min.)
  69. No Home Movie (2015, 115 min.)
  70. Noye’s Fludde – Unogumbe (2013, 35 min.)
  71. The Old Jewish Cemetery (2015, 20 min.)
  72. Our People (2015, 7 min.)
  73. Paddleball (2012, 6 min.)
  74. Parshat Shemini: The Kosher Animal Song (G-dcast) (2010, 5 min.)
  75. Parshat Vayakhel: A Song About Wise Hearted People (G-dcast) (2010, 5 min.)
  76. Parshat Vezot Habracha: Saying Goodbye to Moses (G-dcast) (2009, 4 min.)
  77. Potsdam Revisited: Overture to the Cold War / The Rifleman’s Violin (2014, 15 min.)
  78. Psalm 1 (G-dcast) (2013, 3 min.)
  79. Psalm 23 – The Valley (G-dcast) (2013, 3 min.)
  80. Psalm 42 – Where Is Your God? (G-dcast) (2013, 3 min.)
  81. Psalm 90 – Before I Lost My Hair (G-dcast) (2013, 2 min.)
  82. The Rabbi’s Daughter (2012, 33 min.)
  83. The Record Man (2015, 107 min.)
  84. Revival (2013, 25 min.)
  85. Righteous Rebel: Rabbi Avi Weiss (2014, 49 min.)
  86. Rolling Romance (2013, 29 min.)
  87. Sara Levy Cohen (2014, 14 min.)
  88. The Setup (2016, 16 min.)
  89. Shouk (2014, 19 min.)
  90. Showfolk (2014, 23 min.)
  91. Si Minor (2015, 22 min.)
  92. Sukkot at the Ranch (2013, 13 min.)
  93. Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971, 110 min.) Buy/watch
  94. Surviving Skokie (2015, 66 min.)
  95. Take a Bow and Confess (2013, 60 min.)
  96. Tal R: The Virgin (2013, 29 min.)
  97. A Tale of Slander (2015, 7 min.)
  98. Tamagotchi (2015, 15 min.)
  99. Tesefa (2014, 10 min.)
  100. That Daughter’s Crazy (2015, 59 min.)
  101. The Mature (2013, 4 min.)
  102. The Three Hikers (2015, 96 min.)
  103. To Step Forward Myself (2015, 28 min.)
  104. A trip to the Other Planet (2014, 15 min.)
  105. The Trouble with Being Human These Days (2013, 51 min.)
  106. Two Who Dared: The Sharps’ War (2013, 76 min.) Buy/watch
  107. Two-Sided Story (2012, 75 min.)
  108. Wagner & Me (2010, 89 min.) Buy/watch
  109. Walking with the Enemy (2013, 124 min.)
  110. WALL·E (2008, 98 min.) Buy/watch
  111. Warm Snow (2015, 5 min.)
  112. Wiener Blut (2014, 8 min.)
  113. The Window (2014, 30 min.)
  114. Within the Eye of the Storm (2012, 74 min.)
  115. Within Thy Walls (2015, 7 min.)
  116. Woody Allen: A Documentary (2012, 113 min.) Buy/watch

Books posted on my Jewish Books blog in January 2016

The Zohar Pritzker Edition, Volume Nine by Daniel C. MattI have a blog about Jewish books. Most of the time I post about new books, sometimes about events, book sales or older books. Here is the list of books that made it there during the month of January 2016:

  1. Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams
  2. The Atoning Dyad: The Two Goats of Yom Kippur in the Apocalypse of Abraham by Andrei Orlov
  3. Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories by Megan Hart, KK Hendin, Stacey Agdern, Jennifer Gracen
  4. But You Did Not Come Back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens
  5. Creating a Collection: a Basic Book List for Judaic Libraries by Marlene Schiffman, Leslie Monchar
  6. Divine Scapegoats: Demonic Mimesis in Early Jewish Mysticism by Andrei A. Orlov
  7. From Silt and Ashes: Sequel to Please Say Kaddish For Me by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
  8. Ghost Runners: An Olympic Dream Betrayed by Robert Rubenstein
  9. Gittle, A Girl of the Steppes by Estelle Rubin Brager
  10. God and Politics in Esther by Yoram Hazony
  11. Good on Paper by Rachel Cantor
  12. Joyfully Jewish: Family and Adult Coloring Book for Relaxation and Meditation by Rae Shagalov
  13. Lilith’s Demons by Julie R Enszer
  14. The Manasseh Hill Country Survey: Volume 3: From Nahal Iron to Nahal Shechem by Adam Zertal, Nivi Mirkam, Shay Bar
  15. My Dear Otto by Saul Stier
  16. My Train to Freedom by Ivan A. Backer
  17. On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War by Bernard Wasserstein
  18. The Parting of the Ways: How Esoteric Judaism and Christianity Influenced the Psychoanalytic Theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung by Richard Kradin
  19. Primo Levi’s Resistance: Rebels and Collaborators in Occupied Italy by Sergio Luzzatto
  20. Repercussions by Anthony Schneider
  21. Rise of an Oligarch by Carlito Sofer and Nik Krasno
  22. Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author by Herman Wouk
  23. Shmulik Paints the Town by Lisa Rose
  24. The Song of Hartgrove Hall by Natasha Solomons
  25. Surviving Hitler: The Unlikely True Story of an SS Soldier and a Jewish Woman by O. Hakan Palm
  26. Sweet Burdens: Welfare and Communality Among Russian Jews in Germany by Sveta Roberman
  27. Two Arabs, a Berber, and a Jew: Entangled Lives in Morocco by Lawrence Rosen
  28. Under the Chuppah: A Jewish Couple’s Guide to Weddings and Meaningful Marriage by Bruce Forman
  29. An Undisturbed Peace by Mary Glickman
  30. Unspeakable Things by Kathleen Spivack
  31. The White Piano by Uvi Poznansky
  32. White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess In Between by Judy Batalion
  33. Why is Great Grandma So Sad? Discovering the Holocaust Through the Eyes of a Child by Susan Heagy
  34. The Zohar Pritzker Edition, Volume Nine by Daniel C. Matt