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Welcome to the Festival!


Sophie Tucker, Theodore Bikel, Nancy Spielberg, Kara Sundlun and Darko Tresnjak are some of the big names on screen and in person that will light up our screens in 7 venues this March. Daring Israeli flyboys and soldier girls; prime ministers and pastrami kings; heroes, homeruns and heartthrobs star in 19 red hot hits from Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Poland and the USA.   Cinephiles will be treated to riveting dramas, powerful documentaries, romantic comedies and shorts - all are premieres! Live music, parties, food and insightful programs with special guests create an unforgettable ten days of international Jewish storytelling.

Throughout the festival, a series of original short films "Through A Centennial Lens" will screen to celebrate the Mandell JCC's 100th birthday.

A heartfelt Todah Rabah - Thank You  to our lead funders, the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford and the Mandell JCC Pillars Society, whose unwavering support has helped us become one of the most well-respected Jewish film fests on the circuit. The generosity of the Mandell JCC Pacesetter donors; our venue and media sponsors and in-kind donors allow us to present a festival worthy of you, our loyal audience.  We are grateful to our dedicated committee members, community partners, volunteers and the Mandell JCC staff who flawlessly help us stage this world class event.

Opening Night at Hartford's new Infinity Music Hall & Bistro brings back Sophie Tucker, the city's most famous daughter and  "Last of the Red Hot Mamas" in The Outrageous Sophie Tucker.  Hartt School senior Colleen Welsh, will perform a live Sophie Tucker cabaret, accompanied by Paul Feyer. More showbiz with a shmear movies spotlight Connecticut's own Theodore Bikel - In The Shoes of Sholom Aleichem and The Go Go Boys, the story behind Cannon Films' legendary Israeli movie moguls. Deli Man dishes out a mouthwatering nostalgic history nosh.

Our selection of films about history, heroes and the Holocaust is compelling. Closing Night celebrates the daring young flyboys who volunteered as pilots during Israel's 1948 War of Independence in Above and Beyond - The Birth of the Israeli Air Force. You'll meet Producer Nancy Spielberg, Steven's younger sister, who will attend and speak. In Berlin Calling, an ex-punk chick pulls back the suburban veil to uncover her father's dark days in World War II Germany.

A Connecticut father-daughter story narrated by and starring WFSB anchor Kara Sundlun reveals the little-known but heroic great 1943 escape of the late Jewish Rhode Island Governor Bruce Sundlun in Above and Beyond - Bruce Sundlun's Incredible WWII Journey.

Part two of Ambassador Yehuda Avner's tell-all memoir movie, The Prime Ministers, Part Two - Soldiers and Peacemakers is an insider's peek behind the headlines and newsmakers of Israel. When a 23 year old Jewish Parisian is kidnapped for ransom in the unflinching 24 Days - The True Story of the Ilan Halimi Affair, a chilling chain of events is set in motion.

Three of Israel's top box office hits will screen. Eran Riklis' Dancing Arabs, based on the book by Sayed Kashua, is about fitting in, family ties and finding love. Israel's most famous acting legends star in The Farewell Party, a poignant dramedy about saying goodbye and love at sunset. M*A*S*H meets Girls in Zero Motivation, the zany dark comedy about young bored female soldiers on a remote Israeli army base.

Coming-of-age flicks travel to Cuba where Havana Curveball brings together a baseball loving Bar Mitzvah teen with kids in need.  In Hannah Cohen's Holy Communion, a sweet Irish lass gets a humorous ecumenical lesson. A young boy escapes the Nazis and lives in the woods in the true saga Run Boy Run, screening at our 7th Annual Tribute-Observations on Survival and Spirit program sponsored by the Kirstein family. Pianist Mona Golabek and Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak will preview their upcoming The Pianist of Willesden Lane.

Love stories - forbidden, hilarious, inter-cultural and desperate - abound.  In the Montreal-set       Felix and Meira, a discontented young Hasidic wife and mother falls for an artist.   A German business student meets her Israeli mis-match in Hanna's Journey.  The WWII story Closed Season traps a refugee and a desperate farm couple into a complicated triangle of strange bedfellows. The French comedy It Happened in Saint-Tropez delivers a chocolate box full of family dysfunction and guilty pleasures.             

Call your friends, hire a babysitter, book your seats! We can't wait to say THANK YOU and greet you in person...at the movies!

Nicole Greenblatt  &  Dr. Benson Monastersky, Co-Chairs
Harriet J. Dobin, Director
19th Annual Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival
December, 2014