As the oldest and largest Jewish film festival in Europe, the Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Brandenburg has a lot to offer the community in regards to the content of the films they curate. Even with the difficulties of putting together a comprehensive program, the 2020 edition had 45 feature films, documentaries, television series, and shorts which presented a wide variety of topics including Holocaust history, contemporary Jewish political and social issues, and contemporary culture and lifestyle. A short glimpse of the array of films can be found below:
Feature Film: Winterreise (2019) – Based on the true story of US radio host Marin Goldsmith’s parents, Winterreise tells the story of his father Georg Goldsmith (Bruno Ganz) who, along with his wife, fled from Germany in 1941. They were both talented musicians and after the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, were only allowed to perform as members of the Jewish Cultural Federation, an organization controlled by the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. The goal of the propaganda was to show the world that Jewish culture still thrived in Germany even as the government increased its persecution leading up to the Holocaust, something which the Goldsmiths did learn until much later. This was the final film of famous German actor Bruno Ganz who passed away in 2019.
Documentary: Hummus the Movie (2015) – a documentary about the soul food hummus which is omnipresent throughout the Middle East. The paste made from tahini and chickpeas is a basic food throughout the region, although which region made it first and which is the “correct” recipe is up for debate. Hummus has the power to bring Muslims, Christians, and Jews together with a similar understanding of its deliciousness.
Retrospective Section: The Juggler (1953) – The first large American production ever shot in Israel as well as one of the first dedicated to a Holocaust survivor. Kirk Douglas plays a Berlin juggler named Hans Müller who emigrates to Israel after WWII. His entire family perished during the Holocaust and he is plagued by the fact that he did not try to leave Germany early enough to prevent it. Due to his trauma, he gets into trouble with Israeli authorities and goes on the run when he believes that he accidentally killed a police officer. The Juggler was chosen in homage to Kirk Douglas, who passed away in February 2020 at the age of 103.
Series: Our Boys (2019) – A series in four parts made in coproduction between HBO and Keshet International about the events which led to the outbreak of the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. Three Jewish teenagers are kidnapped and killed by Hamas militants, leading to shock and outrage in Israel. Two days later, the body of a Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, is found in the forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Our Boys attempts to give a full portrait of the murderers of Abu Khdeir, who were members of the ultra-orthodox community. Our Boys attempts to give voice to all of those involved.