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Winnipeg International Jewish Film Festival Put on by the Rady JCC Was Interesting and Worthwhile

by Rhonda Spivak, June 13, 2022


I attended the 2022 Winnipeg  International Jewish Film Festival put on by the Rady JCC  from May 14-June 1, which was a hybrid in person and online event (I saw all the movies online ), and it was most enjoyable experience. I would firstly like to thank the Asper Foundation and the Babs Asper Centre for Cultural Arts who generously sponsored the festival for doing so.


According to Sheldon Appelle, Manager of Marketing, Communications & Digital Content at the Rady JCC, "1200 people  attended the festival during the two-week span. We sold a total of 75 virtual packages. We had 868 pre-orders for movies which averages out to 12 movies per household."  

Appelle also wrote in an email that "We are sure that we will continue to offer a combination of both in-person and virtual choices in 2023." 

He added that "We were very pleased to offer a wide variety of films and it was so great to see our supporters back in -person in the Berney Theatre. For those who were unable to join us, we were happy to provide the virtual option, so movie lovers were able to enjoy all the great selections at this year’s festival. "


The film festival was truly international  with films from France, Germany, Portugal etc and Israel, all with Jewish themes. The festival had some terrific dramas, with interesting and varying themes. I particularly liked Avi Nesher’s powerful high quality film, Images of Victory, which took place during Israel’s war of Independence in 1948 where the Jewish settlement of Nitzanim, located between Ashkelon and Ashdod, fell to the Egyptians, whose King went to great lengths to show that Egypt was victorious (even though it otherwise lost the war). Nesher’s film was nominated for many Israeli Ophir awards (Israel’s academy awards) and it was easy to see why. The film Neighbors, seen from the eyes of a young innocent Kurdish child who was indoctrinated at school in Syria to hate Jews but did not do so, because of his family’s close ties with their Jewish neighbors was an exquisite and fascinating film, and another of  my favourites. The French Canadian film Sin Le Habana, about a Jewish couple who escaped from Cuba was very worthwhile, and had a rather surprising ending.  The film 1618 about Portugese Jews fleeing Portugal to Amsterdam during the period of the Spanish Inquisition was an excellent historical drama. The 2019 film, the Humorist, about a fictional Russian comedian, was an interesting time capsule of Soviet history, examining censorship under Vladimir Putin. Another film that deserves to be mentioned was the German film Das Unwort (the Unword) about a Jewish, a Palestinian and an Iranian student who walk into a classroom and all hell breaks loose despite the clumsy attempts of their teacher to be culturally appropriate and historically sensitive.


I found myself particularly drawn to dramas, but there were also many high quality documentaries, with varying themes, at this year's festival. For example, the documentary film by Winnipeg's own Yolanda Papini Pollock and Don Barnard titled Unusual in Every Way (which explores the friendship between Israeli psychologist Solly Dreman and  Barnard, an indigenous man with disabilities), is a fine film, with a pro-Zionist message.  The well done documentary Marry Me However told the stories of three LGBT men and two woman from orthodox families, who chose to marry against their own sexual orientation to comply with Torah laws, have children, and to be accepted by their communities. In the end, all of them divorced.  The Israel documentary Apples and Oranges brought back fond memories of my time volunteering on a kibbutz in 1982, something which is no longer done today. The documentary Modigliani and his Secrets gave the viewer valuable insights into the paintings and life of this Jewish artist and was also well done.  The documentary Antisemitism, which focused on antisemitism in France, was enhanced by a pre-recorded discussion following the film between film director Ilan Ziv and Lionel Steiman, a retired U of M professor of the History of Antisemitism. 


In short, the Film festival, which had a great variety of films on different topics pertaining to Jewish life was a great success.



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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.