Arts and Culture | Local

At 25, Tucson International Jewish Film Festival going strong

Every time I go to a movie, it’s magic, no matter what the movie’s about.

                                                                    —Steven Spielberg

The Tucson International Jewish Film Festival uses that “magic” to promote the preservation of Jewish culture and celebrate cultural diversity. For 10 days, Jan. 14 – 23, the 25th annual festival will bring more than 20 Jewish films from around the globe, many of them Arizona premieres, to local screens.

The festival is one of the longest-running Jewish film festivals in the country.

The 25th annual Tucson Jewish International Film Festival is dedicated to the memory of Bob Polinsky, a longtime volunteer.
The 25th annual Tucson Jewish International Film Festival is dedicated to the memory of Bob Polinsky, a longtime volunteer.

The 25th festival will be held in memory of Bob Polinsky. A long-time volunteer with the Tucson Jewish Community Center with a particular passion for the film festival, Polinsky spearheaded significant improvements to the Tucson J’s projection and sound systems.

The opening night film, “Once in a Lifetime,” will be shown at the Loft Cinema on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. Based on the true story of a teacher in France who uses lessons from the Holocaust to inspire underprivileged inner city pupils, the film celebrates the power of education and the importance of cooperation and coexistence in a rapidly-changing world. Tickets are $10.

The festival will feature several other special events, including a pre-festival kickoff on Sunday, Jan. 10 at 3 p.m. in Saddlebrooke, co-presented by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Northwest Division. This will be an encore performance of “The Best of Men,” which chronicles the work of Ludwig Guttman, neurologist and German Jewish refugee, who in 1944 transformed the spinal injuries unit at a British hospital and set the stage for the Paralympic Games. The film will be screened at Desert View Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive. Tickets are $5.

A free film, “The Age of Love,” about a speed dating event for 70- to 90-year-olds, will be presented by the Senior Resource Alliance on Jan. 10 at 2 p.m.

On Jan. 15, a luncheon, a fashion show curated by Maya Palace and a screening of the film “Advanced Style,” based on the popular blog celebrating women “of a certain age,” will be held from noon-3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for season pass holders, $25 general admission.

Also on Jan. 15, choreographer/ filmmaker Tamar Rogoff will teach a Body Scripting workshop at 4 p.m.

The closing night will feature an encore presentation of “Raise the Roof,” documenting the reconstruction of a magnificent Polish wooden synagogue. The film will be shown Saturday, Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m., followed by a wrap party with refreshments and live music from the Klezmopolitans. Tickets are $18, with proceeds benefiting the Bob Polinsky Memorial Media Arts Fund, which supports arts and culture programming at the J.

Other films in the festival include “Mr. Kaplan,” Uruguay’s entry for the 2014 Academy Awards, in which an aging Jewish refugee learns of a mysterious German prowling the shores of a nearby beach; and “The Farewell Party” (“Mita Tova”), a comedy about a gutsy group of senior citizens, which was nominated for 14 Israeli Oscars.

Shorts range from “Women in Sink,” the story of an Arab-Israeli beauty salon in Haifa, to Canada’s “The Seder,” in which Leo is about to bring his boyfriend home to meet the folks.

Films highlighting the entertainment industry include “Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem” and “Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love.”

Films will be shown at the J unless otherwise noted. The J’s ballroom has closed-loop hearing assistive technology. General admission tickets are $9 ($8 for students/seniors/J members). Season passes and group admissions are available. For more information, visit tucsonjewish or call 615-5432.