Martin Buber was my companion this past Saturday morning in Tel Aviv.  It was not our first encounter – I and Thou, Ten Rungs, and Tales of the Hasidim rest on my bookshelf, but it has been a long time, time measured in years, since I opened their pages. Looking forward to the Jewish Film Festival in Jerusalem, I saw a preview of Jacob Lifshin and Aharon Lipetz’s documentary The Way of Man: A Film about Martin Buber, and it brought the philosopher back into my thoughts. Suddenly my day felt brighter. This is what happens when you open the door to let someone in, it doesn’t matter whether it is a close friend or a stranger: a little more light comes into the room.

Martin Buber/Photo courtesy

Martin Buber/Photo courtesy

There will be much to enlighten as well as entertain at The Jewish Film Festival Jerusalem, which will take place at the Jerusalem Cinematheque from December 7 – 12, 2015. The festival presents features and documentaries that engage with many different aspects of Jewish identity: history, philosophy, traditions, personal stories, national dilemmas, humor, the arts, and the culinary feast that is our happy Jewish heritage.

The Way of Man is a fascinating encounter with Martin Buber’s life and thought, presented primarily through interviews with scholars such as Prof. Dan Avnon and Prof. Paul Mendes-Flohr, Buber’s granddaughter and those who have been influenced by the great thinker and are guided by his values, such as members of the Dror Israel movement, and theatre director Nola Chilton. One cannot help but be amazed at Buber’s scholarship, integrity and far-reaching contributions in philosophy, Jewish culture, politics and education. Buber’s political perspective diverged from the ideological mainstream of his time, yet is the logical extension of his belief in dialogue and the importance of presence and relationships. He believed in the return of Jews to the Land of Israel, but saw that as the beginning of a journey. He supported the concept of a bi-national state, in which all would participate in the creation of a just society.

Martin Buber with Ben Gurion/Photo courtesy

Martin Buber with Ben Gurion/Photo courtesy

The Jewish Film Festival’s opening event will celebrate 50 years of the Jerusalem Foundation with “Jerusalem on the Screen.” The program, hosted by Jacky Levy, will include screenings of newly restored digital prints of Return to Zion and Life of the Jews of Palestine 1913, a rare document of life in Jerusalem, with live music by DJ Markey Funk (and he’s so good!). This event will also mark the 20th anniversary of Renen Schorr’s Wedding in Jerusalem, documenting the marriage of Uri Zohar’s son to Arik Einstein’s daughter. Following the screenings there will be a discussion of films relating to Jerusalem Yael Perlov on David Perlov’s (her father) film In Jerusalem, director Tawfik Abu Wael on his film Tanathur (Disintegration), and Yoram Honig, Head of the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, will talk about the Western Wall in film. The event will take place in Hebrew.

Polanski Shorts - musicians Noam Inbar, Ariel Armoni, Adam Scheflan/Photo: Moti Milrod

Polanski Shorts – musicians Noam Inbar, Ariel Armoni, Adam Scheflan/Photo: Moti Milrod

The Roman Polanski Retrospective, marking 60 years in cinema, will launch at the festival and continue throughout the month. Special guest of the festival, Polanski’s Oscar-nominated film editor Hervé de Luze, will hold a discussion with the audience following the screenings of Oliver Twist and The Pianist. The closing event of the festival, produced in collaboration with the Polish Institute, there will be a screening of Polanski’s short films from the 1950s with live music by Noam Inbar (HaBiluim), Adam Scheflan (Ouzu Bazooka, Kutiman Orchestra), and Ariel Admoni (Pisuk Rahav).

Natasha

Natasha

New to the festival is an International Competition – the Schoumann Award for Jewish Cinema. The participating films are: 13 Minutes; The Dybbuk. A Tale of Wandering Souls; Klezmer; Natasha; How to Win Enemies; Summer Solstice; Kapo in Jerusalem, and My Shortest Love Affair.

The Flying Matchmaker (Kuni Lemel)

The Flying Matchmaker (Kuni Lemel)

There’s so much more at the festival, including new Israeli films, films on Jews in Motion, Interfaith Dialogue, Culinary Cinema, and a special screening of Israel Becker’s classic comedy The Flying Matchmaker (Kuni Lemel) . The full festival program is available in English on the Jerusalem Cinematheque website.  To order tickets, call the box office: *9377 or fax 02-5654334.

Jerusalem Cinematheque Director: Noa Regev; Jerusalem Film Festival Artistic Director: Elad Samorzik; Jewish Film Festival Artistic Director: Daniela Tourgeman; Head Producer: Ella Tal.

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