Preview: 23rd Washington Jewish Film Festival
BYT at large | Dec 31, 2012 | 12:30PM |

The DC Jewish Community Center’s 23rd Annual Jewish Film Festival will run from January 3-13, 2013 with 55 films at 14 different venues. Below, we’ve highlighted ten films that we are most excited to check out. The full festival lineup can be found at

Fifteen countries are represented throughout the festival including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Nigeria, Luxembourg, Poland, Russia, Serbia, the U.K. and the U.S.  More than 30 filmmaker guests are expected to attend.



PARIS MANHATTAN (Opening Night Film)
Thursday, January 3 at 6:15 pm & 8:15pm
United States Navy Memorial (701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW)

Dir. Sophie Lellouche (80min, France, 2012)
French with English Subtitles

Idealistic pharmacist Alice is completely and utterly obsessed with Woody Allen. She’s constantly quoting lines from his films, engaging him in imaginary conversations, and even prescribing her customers his classic works to help alleviate their ailments. Alice’s increasingly concerned Jewish parents hope to cure her fixation by setting her up with a handsome French gentleman (Patrick Bruel), but he quickly realizes that he’s no match for the man of her dreams. A romantic romp through the city of lights, the glorious luxury of cinematic nostalgia, with a special cameo by the original Alvy Singer. The opening night reception will be held between the two screenings.


Tuesday, January 8 at 6:15 pm
Washington DCJCC (1529 16th Street NW at Q Street)

Dir. Jeff Lieberman (95min, Nigeria/USA, 2012)
English and Hebrew with English Subtitles

In an African country where Christians are terrorized and their churches burned down, it is a decision of extraordinary bravery for Nigerians to declare themselves Jewish. See the world of thousands of Igbo, whose intense commitment to practicing Jewish ritual, learning Hebrew and keeping Kosher sets them truly in a world apart.


Thursday, January 10 at 6:30 pm

La Maison Francaise at the Embassy of France (4101 Reservoir Rd NW)

Dir. Mikael Buch (88min, France, 2011)
French with English Subtitles

Our friends at GLOE present this  fusion of gay romantic comedy, Jewish family drama and French bedroom farce, this film follows the travails and daydreams of the lovelorn Reuben, a French-Jewish mailman living in fairytale Finland with his gorgeous Nordic boyfriend. Just before Passover, a lovers’ quarrel exiles Reuben back to Paris and his zany family—including Almodovar goddess Carmen Maura (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Volver) as his ditzy mom, and Truffaut regular Jean-François Stévenin as his lothario father. The French Embassy will also serve you a free glass of wine afterwards.


Wednesday, January 9 at 7:30 pm

Embassy of Austria (3524 International Court NW)

Dir. Wolfgang Murnberger (100min, Austria/Luxembourg, 2011)
German with English Subtitles

Rudi, an SS Officer, and Victor, the son of Jewish gallery owners, have their lifelong friendship tested with the outbreak of WWII. When their Berlin-bound plane crashes, Victor seizes the opportunity to turn the tables on their precarious relationship. Donning Rudi’s uniform, Victor convinces German soldiers that Rudi is his prisoner, setting in motion a dangerous game of mistaken identities.


Wednesday, January 9 at 7:00 pm
Goethe Institut (814 7th Street NW) and
Sunday, January 13 at 11:00 am
Washington DCJCC (1529 16th Street NW)

Dir. Alexa Karolinski (75min, Germany/USA, 2011)
German with English Subtitles

These two are pretty much our fantasy of who we want to be when we are old.  Regina Karolinski (Oma) and Bella Katz have been friends since childhood. They share recipes, an apartment in Berlin and a common past as Holocaust survivors. Remaining in Germany after the war, it is the food they cook—remembered from their shared childhood—that bonds them. Filmmaker Alexa Karolinski, Oma’s granddaughter, creates a loving portrait of two octogenarians: their stories of survival, their lively sense of humor, and their undying fondness for a good Jewish meal.


Sunday, January 6 at 1:45 pm
Carnegie Institution for Science (1530 P Street NW)

Dir. Judy Maltz and Richie Sherman (77min, USA/Israel, 2012)
English and Hebrew with English subtitles

This documentary follows a group of women over the course of a school year at Tel Aviv’s oldest beauty academy, an unlikely meeting ground of cultures and ethnicities. They speak Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, English, Amharic, Yoruba and Vietnamese, yet somehow find a common language here. Amidst the combs and colorings, these women present a microcosm of modern Israel – a study of coexistence in a part of the world more often associated with conflict and violence. As they learn to create beauty without, each woman undergoes a powerful transformation within.


Sunday, January 6 at 7:15 pm
AFI Silver Theatre (8633 Colesville Road – Silver Spring, MD)

Dir. Janet Tobias (81min, USA/UK/Germany, 2012)

Out of options, a group of families descend into underground caves in southern Ukraine to escape Nazi persecution in October of 1942. Five hundred days later, the families emerge from the dark, having endured unimaginable hardships and proving the indomitability of the human spirit.  This survival story of heart-stopping risk and youthful ingenuity may have been forever buried were it not for one industrial spelunker who happened across remnants of the refuge during a caving expedition.


Sunday, January 13 at 3:30 pm
Washington DCJCC (1529 16th Street NW)

Dir. Dmitry Povolotsky (88min, Russia, 2011)
Russian with English Subtitles

It’s Moscow 1986, and Boris Fishkin is an awkward, ballet-obsessed teenager faced with an inconvenient truth: he is the worst dancer at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. After discovering a VHS tape of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Boris becomes convinced the famed dance icon is his father. Naturally, Boris comes to the conclusion that he’s destined for greatness too, in this hilarious coming-of-age tale.


Wednesday, January 9 at 6:15 pm
Washington DCJCC (1529 16th Street NW)

Dir. Dan Edelstyn and Hilary Powell (75 min, UK, 2012)

When British filmmaker Daniel Edelstyn travels to the Ukraine in search of his roots, he discovers that the vodka distillery opened by his great grandfather in 1904 is still in operation. Impetuously, he decides to become an entrepreneur and import the vodka to the UK – despite his utter lack of business experience. Artist Hilary Powell helps Edelstyn invoke the spirits of his ancestors with inventive animated sequences. The screening will be followed by a Vodka tasting.


Wednesday, January 9 at 8:45 pm
Washington DCJCC (1529 16th Street NW)

90min, USA – Rare Clips Retrospective

The 1960s was a time of experimentation, questioning, and reinvention. Many musicians, writers, and other artists gravitated to Andy Warhol’s Factory for the freedom they sought to create, and the notoriety they needed to seek commercial success. The Velvet Underground, with their lead singer-song writer, Lou Reed, were at the very center of it all. Music archivist Bill Shelley offers a 90-minute curated show of rare archival clips, followed by a discussion.

For tickets, and a full festival line-up, visit: