Programming of the 2022 Miami Jewish Film Festival: “iMordecai”, “Persian Lessons”, “Ahed’s Knee”
Next month, the Miami Jewish Film Festival celebrates its Silver Jubilee by bringing the best of Jewish cinema to South Florida audiences. Such a monumental achievement requires a certain level of pomp and circumstance, so that the 2022 lineup marks the festival’s most comprehensive program, consisting of 148 films, including a collection of world, continental and national premieres, screened from 13 to 27 January.
Sadly, the current pandemic is celebrating its own anniversary: this is the second year to encroach on the festival. In response, MJFF is committed to delivering innovative hybrid programming including pop-up outdoor events across the city and virtual screenings that transform your living room into the final film festival premiere.
After another year of trials, tribulations and some triumphs, Executive Director Igor Shteyrenberg is excited about this year’s offerings.
“This year’s films are enriched by an inexhaustible curiosity and a fearless desire for adventure,” says Shteyrenberg. “They prove that cinema continues to illuminate and inspire and provide light in the darkest moments and the ability to uplift us.”
The world’s largest self-proclaimed Jewish film program continues to explore and celebrate Jewish identity, tradition and cinema. The 25th anniversary is reflected in the contemplation of the past, present and future that permeates this year’s programming.
Opening of the festival on Thursday, January 13 iMordecai is a heartwarming coming-of-age comedy that proves you never stop growing. The transgenerational story centers on the stubborn grumpy man who reconnects with his family when he switches from a flip phone to a new iPhone. Judd Hirsch, Sean Astin and Carol Kane add star power to this perfect opening, billed as “a love letter to Miami”.
The closest to the festival is Persian lessons, an entry to the Belarusian Oscars which takes on a darker tone, mixing comedy and tragedy. Trapped in a concentration camp, a man tells a lie and must teach a guard false Farsi lessons to survive. Persian lessons excels with outstanding performance and incomparable cinematic art.
Among the myriad of films between opening and closing nights, the Headliner section features some of the year’s hottest titles and winners from the film festival circuit. Not to be missed is the entrance to the Israeli Oscars, Whether it’s in the morning, by famous filmmaker Eran Kolirin. (He also directed the years 2007 The group’s visit, which inspired the Tony Award-winning musical.)
Also on the program, Nadav Lapid, the bad boy of Israeli cinema, who won the Jury Prize at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival for his provocative film. Ahed’s knee. Another provocateur, Gaspar Noe’s Vortex, a pandemic meditation on mortality, stars film legends Dario Argento and Françoise Lebrun. Documentary side, in Jane by Charlotte, actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg opens an intimate window on the life of artist and icon (and her mother) Jane Birkin.
In this pivotal time, MJFF is also focusing on his future. This year shows a continuation of efforts to expand its audience and programming to be more inclusive and accessible. In addition to presenting a record number of films directed by women, the festival launched the aptly named Accessibility + Inclusion section, with eight films that “highlight the diversity and community of the human experience”. The Made in Florida section showcases the best of local cinema while highlighting emerging talent. Finally, the Next Wave Competition, with 11 films judged by a group of students and young professionals, connects the next generation through a cinema focused on youth culture.
At the same time as these efforts to broaden its influence, the MJFF has devoted a programming block to outstanding international series. It’s a wise choice with the relatively recent phenomenon of easy access to international series via streaming platforms. Given Miami’s place as a geographic and cultural bridge between Europe, Central America and South America, the festival has expanded its Ibero-American section, featuring Spanish and Portuguese-speaking cinema . The festival has also thought about old-fashioned conviviality and nostalgia with the family, by organizing anniversary screenings outdoors with OnStage! of AND the alien and The princess to marry in local parks.
The inaugural series “Yiddish and Jewish Cinema: Between Two Worlds” celebrates the history of Jewish cinema with a contemporary twist. Winner of the Knight Arts Challenge, the program takes place on the rooftop of the Betsy Hotel and features new restorations of silent classics with contemporary accompaniment commissioned by local artists. This synergistic juxtaposition of image and sound elevates the foundations of the cinematic experience.
MJFF Board Chair Barbara Black Goldfarb is delighted with the state of the festival, noting, “Despite the formidable challenges imposed by the ongoing pandemic, I am delighted to say that the 25th Miami Jewish Film Foundation of this year will once again exceed all expectations.
The recent obstacles that have arisen in front of him have only reinforced his will to persevere and have pushed the organizers of the festival to be more inventive. At 25, MJFF is reimagining how a film festival can serve and enrich its community, its audience and its cinema.
Miami Jewish Film Festival. From Thursday January 13, 2022 to Thursday January 27, 2022, at various locations; miamijewishfilmfestival.org.