The expansive Jewish Film Festival continues tonight at University Synagogue of Irvine–and, yes, that's continues as your humble servant was slow on the uptake to promote the full schedule of movies that started rolling in October and continue through April at the synagogue, Regal's Westpark 8 in Irvine and Regency's South Coast Village in Santa Ana. Up next is the documentary Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Grey at 7 p.m. at the synagogue, 3400 Michelson Drive, Irvine. Tickets are $7.
It is described thusly:
Jewish Solders in Blue and Grey describes a little-known chapter in U.S. history, when political allegiances created a deep rift within the American Jewish community. It examines a time when 10,000 Jews went to battle for their country: 7,000 of them “Blue,” and 3,000 “Grey.” The film exposes General Ulysses Grant's shattering decision to expel all Jews from his territory and how, against all odds, five Union soldiers of Jewish descent persevered, ultimately being recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Can I say, in the spirit of my great Borscht Belt-trained “uncles” who entertained me on television variety shows in the '60s and early '70s, that it'd be a hoot if Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Grey featured Yiddish-accented voiceovers of letters home kvetching about the horrors of war including goyim yellow mustard instead of brown?
Just know that this Jewish Film Festival overlaps with Sunday, Monday and Wednesday screenings that are split up by type of series (like Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Grey being part of the documentary collection). Ticket prices range from $7 to $15 depending on which night/place it fall on/in, and you can book your own series through . . .
And now, what's left of the series:
(These films screen at University Synagogue)
Unmasked Judephobia (Wednesday, Jan. 16) Growing opposition to the State of Israel and anti-Semitic campaigns building in different parts of the world are explored in this multi-award-winning film.
Tough Guise 2: Violence, Media And Masculinity (Monday, Feb. 11) The award-winning video Tough Guise: Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity is updated, and creator/co-producer/University Synagogue member Jackson Katz participates in a discussion. He is the co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention program, an anti-gender violence and bullying prevention initiative in college and professional athletics and the U.S. military. The Anti Defamation League co-sponsors the screening, and a dessert buffet afterward is sponsored by the Brian Black Memorial Mental Health Fund.
Happy (Wednesday, March 27) Journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Real life stories combine with scientific happiness research unlock the secrets of our most valued emotion.
(These films are presented at Regal's Westpark 8 in Irvine)
The Day I Saw Your Heart (Jan. 9) Mélanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds) stars as twentysomething x-ray technician Justine who has a thing for “hitting-and-quitting” boyfriends until she meets quite possibly her soul mate–just as her neurotic, Jewish father reveals he and his new young wife are expecting. Presented in French with English subtitles.
Reuniting The Rubins (Jan. 30) An uptight London lawyer puts his retirement dream cruise on hold when his ailing mother emotionally blackmails him into reuniting his estranged children for a Passover Seder. From first-time director Yoav Factor.
Room 514 (Feb. 13) When a young, idealistic Israeli military investigator confronts an elite soldier with accusations of unnecessary violence against a Palestinian in the Occupied Territories, her integrity and determination are put to the test. In Hebrew and Russian with English subtitles.
Hotel Lux (March 13) An apolitical ladies man and Jewish leftist have a Stalin-Hitler comedy act that slays them in the aisles in 1933 Berlin, but by 1936 the Jew has gone into hiding and, after an unsuccessful stint going it alone, the ladykiller wrangles a fake Soviet passport and arrives at Moscow's Hotel Lux, where it somehow gets into the chief of the secret police that the performer is Hitler's personal astrologer. In German, Russian and English, with subtitles.
(These are at Regency's South Coast Village in Santa Ana)
Sonny Boy (Jan. 20) A 19-year-old black student from Suriname arrives in the Netherlands in 1928 and falls hard for a married white woman 17 years his senior, setting off a forbidden love affair that spans two decades and is racked by anti-Semitism and racial prejudice. Directed by Maria Peters and based on a true story, the drama is presented in Dutch and German with English subtitles.
Wunderkinder (Feb. 17) Two Ukrainian Jews and a German non-Jew are united by a passion for music in the small Ukrainian town of Poltava in 1941. When the Nazis invade, the families must join together to escape the forces of both fascism and Communism. Directed by Marcus Rosenmuller, the movie is presented in German with English subtitles.
Little Rose (March 3) A Polish security service agent enlists his girlfriend, under the code name Little Rose, to spy on a writer and professor in 1968. She is even told to become the professor's lover, which triggers a dangerous love triangle against the backdrop of escalating political unrest. In Polish with English subtitles.
Remembrance (April 7) Inspired by actual events, this is about a love story that blossomed in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944 Poland. The lovers are eventually separated and believe on another has died until the woman, believing she has seen the man on American television 30 years later, sets off to find him. Directed by Anna Justice, the movie is in English, German and Polish with English subtitles.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.