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Cannes and Sundance might be over, but DC’s film festival season is just warming up. We’re home to one of the largest Jewish Film Festival’s in North America, the Washington Jewish Film Festival, which entertains 15,000 people with over 80 screenings every year. Many of the screenings are US (or world!) premieres, and include Q&A’s or discussions, which are not to be missed. Last year’s WJFF included Oscar noms like Ida and the star studded Fading Gigolo, so you definitely don’t want to skip this years screenings.

Just like last year, we took care of all of the hard work, and hand picked the movies we think you need to see. This years festival runs from February 19th to Sunday March 1st, but, as always, if you can’t make it this year, the Washington DC Jewish Community Center shows films year round.


The Films

24 Days
Saturday, February 21st, 9:15pm
AFI Silver Theatre
Saturday, February 28th, 8:45pm

Dir. Alexandre Arcady (108 min, France, 2014)
French with English Subtitles

24 Days follows 23 year old Ilan Halimi, a Parisian Jew, who is kidnapped and tortured for 24 days straight after giving his phone number to a beautiful woman. Based on a book co-written by Halimi’s mother, the film is a harrowing look at anti-Semitic violence. We gave away tickets to 24 Days a couple of weeks ago, so you have no excuse to not see this.

Au Revoir Les Enfants
Saturday, February 21, 6:30 pm
Goethe Institut Washington
Tuesday, February 24, 3:00 pm

Dir. Louis Malle (105 min, France, 1987)
French with English Subtitles

Based on the directors own childhood, Au Revoir Les Enfants tells a coming of age story about two young boys at a Catholic boarding school in Nazi-occupied France. While Julian and Jean start out as enemies, they quickly become close friends. All is well until a secret puts their friendship on the line, then tragedy strikes.

Deli Man
Saturday, February 21, 4:30 pm
Monday, February 23, 7:30 pm
JCC of Greater Washington (Rockville)

Dir. Erik Greenberg Anjou (90 min, USA, 2014)

Who doesn’t love a good deli? While the times shift and things change, the classic delicatessen remains a staple of good dining. Ziggy Gruber, who is a third generation deli man at Kenny’s and Ziggy’s in Houston, Texas, serves as your guide through the world of the traditional Jewish deli. Deli Man is an exploration of Jewish history and culture through the rise, and fall, of the deli.

On Feb 21st, a panel discussion with director Erik Greenberg Anjou, cookbook author Joan Nathan, and DC deli owner Nick Wiseman, of DGS Delicatessen, will follow the film. There will also be a special dinner at DGS Delicatessen, which requires a separate ticket.

The Farewell Party
Saturday, February 28, 7:00 pm
AFI Silver Theatre
Sunday, March 1, 5:15 pm

Dir. Tal Granit, Sharon Maymon (93 min, Israel, 2014)
Hebrew with English Subtitles

Winner of Best Cinematography and Best Actor at this years Ophirs, The Farewell Party is a black comedy that deals with the ethical dilemmas surrounding death. After a friend becomes terminally ill, a group in a retirement home decide to build a machine that allows for self euthanasia. Just like any other good friend would do. Unfortunately, word gets out, and more and more people ask to use the machine.

Thursday, February 26, 7:15 pm
AFI Silver Theatre

Dir. Carl Boese and Paul Wegener (91 min, Germany, 1920)

Who isn’t down for some good old fashioned German Expressionism? Golem is a classic Jewish silent horror film about a rabbi who makes a man out of clay to save his community in Prague from destruction. Even if you’re not into silent films, guitarist Gary Lucas will perform the soundtrack live, which should be awesome.

The Last Metro
Tuesday, February 24, 12:15 pm
Wednesday, February 25, 7:00 pm
Goethe Institut Washington

Dir. François Truffaut (131 min, France, 1980)
French with English subtitles

Truffaut’s film follows members of a French theater company during Nazi-occupied France who continue to do what they love, even when things get tough. Starring Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve, The Last Metro won an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film, as well as, ten French César awards. Truffaut is a master director, and a founder of the always strange French New Wave, so even if you’re not a fan of older films, you should definitely check this out.

Magic Men
Thursday, February 19, 6:30 pm
AFI Silver Theatre
Sunday, February 22, 1:00 pm
JCC of Greater Washington (Rockville)

Dir. Guy Nattiv and Erez Tadmor (100 min, Israel, 2014)
Hebrew and Greek with English Subtitles

The opening night film of the WJFF, is strange in the best way. A 78 year old atheist and his estranged son, who is also a Hasidic rapper, travel to Greece on the hunt for a magician, who also happened to save his life in WWII. Don’t all families go on road trips like this?

Mr. Kaplan
Sunday, March 1, 7:30 pm
Saturday, February 21, 8:45 pm
JCC of Greater Washington (Rockville)

Dir. Alvaro Brechner (98 min, Uruguay/Germany/Spain, 2014)
Spanish with English Subtitles

WJFF ends with Mr. Kaplan. Jacob Kaplan lives comfortably in Uruguay, until he gets old and grumpy. After becoming convinced that his neighbor is a Nazi, Kaplan transforms himself into a full blown spy. It goes just as well as you imagine it would. The Audience Award announcements and the Closing Night Reception follow the screening.

Next to Her
Monday, February 23, 7:15 pm
AFI Silver Theater
Thursday, February 26, 8:10 pm
Abramson Family Recital Hall at American University’s Katzen Arts Center
Saturday, February 28, 6:45 pm
JCC of Greater Washington (Rockville)

Dir. Asaf Korman (90 min, Israel, 2014)
Hebrew with English Subtitles

In Next to Her, Chelli and her sister Gabby, who is disabled, live alone together. After a social worker discovers that Gabby is alone all day while Chelli is at work, Chelli is forced to place her in a day care program, which opens up time for Chelli to start dating. Judging by the trailer, this one looks pretty intense.

Yidlife Crisis
YIDLIFE CRISIS (Episodes 1&2)
Saturday, February 21, 8:30 pm
Goethe Institut
YIDLIFE CRISIS (Episodes 3&4)
Sunday, March 1, 4:30 pm
Goethe Institut

Dir. Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman (4 episodes X 5 min, Canada, 2014)
Yiddish with English Subtitles

Filmed entirely in Yiddish, Yidlife Crisis follows best friends Chaimie and Leizer and their adventures in Montreal. If you only see these shorts because of the hilarious pun in the title, that is totally alright. No one will judge you for it.
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