Arts and Culture | Local

Strength is theme behind Tucson’s 28th Jewish film festival

Réka Tenki in a scene from ‘Budapest Noir.’ (Pioneer Pictures)

This year’s Tucson International Jewish Film Festival will bring 15 full-length films, one TV show, and three shorts from around the world to local screens. TIJFF is one of the country’s longest-running Jewish film festivals, one of Arizona’s longest running film fests, and one of Tucson’s most popular cultural arts events. The 28th annual TIJFF will run Jan. 6-20 at multiple venues. This year’s program features several international award winners, Arizona premieres, and special guests.

Each year, films for the TIJFF are carefully selected by a diverse committee to promote the preservation of Jewish culture and encourage cultural diversity. Films represent a variety of genres and formats to appeal to all moviegoers: drama, comedy, thriller, Israeli, LGBTQS, documentary, narrative, shorts, and feature length. Free popcorn is provided at every screening.

“When we were selecting films for the 28th annual festival, we focused on the number 28. In Hebrew Gematria, if we look at the value of 28, we find the word koach, which means strength or something that puts other things into motion,” says Katie Spector, TIJFF director. “All of the films were chosen because the characters exhibit strength. In addition to that, we feel these films will inspire the audience to stand strong and make changes within our community.”

“Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story” kicks off the festival Jan. 6 at 3 p.m. at Saddlebrooke’s Desert View Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive. The film chronicles the story of the Portuguese consul in Bordeaux, France, who saved an estimated 30,000 lives during World War II. A family member will be there for a Q&A after the film.

Opening night takes place at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. with “Budapest Noir.” Hungarian Holocaust survivor Theresa Dulgov, who lives in Tucson, will give a talk following the film.

Two films previously at the Loft will be shown at the Tucson Jewish Community Center on Wednesday, Jan. 16: “93 Queen” at 5 p.m., and “The Cakemaker” at 7:30 p.m.

Other highlights include the following, all at the Tucson J:

• “Humor Me” on Friday, Jan. 11 at
1 p.m. — see review, page 11.

• “Heading Home: Tale of Team Israel” on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 4 p.m. This baseball documentary, sponsored by the Arizona Jewish Post, is an opportunity for people to come in their favorite sports jersey. There will be Cracker Jacks for audience members to enjoy.

• Café 54 will lead a Q&A following “Simon and Theodore,” Monday, Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m. In this French film, an immature man dealing with mental health issues who is about to become a father meets an angry, rebellious teenager and they go on a journey of self-discovery through the cold streets of Paris.

• “The Commandments” an Israeli TV series about the young Orthodox men who feel personally compelled to join the Israeli Defense Forces, is the first television show to be featured in the TIJFF. Episodes 1-4 screen Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

• “The Caborca Jew: A Mexican Story,” Friday, Jan. 18 at 1 p.m. Meet the family from the film – and look for the Tucson connection in the film.

• “Ask for Jane” is about an underground network for abortion access in Chicago before the passage of Roe v. Wade. Cait Cortelyou, who portrays Rose and is the co-producer, will lead a discussion following the screening on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Three short films, “Spring Chicken,” “Egg Cream” and “Wendy’s Shabbat” wrap up the festival on Sunday, Jan. 20 at 3 p.m., followed by an egg cream-making experience and a talk from the author of “Seltzertopia,” Barry Joseph.

For a complete list of dates, times, and film descriptions, visit

Tickets start at $10 with special discounts for students, seniors, and military. Purchase tickets online at or at the Tucson J by calling 299-3000. Season passes are available for $125 and 6-packs are $50. For more information, including sponsorship opportunities, contact Katie Spector at 299-3000 ext.147 or