This year’s list of offers for the Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival is the most ambitious in festival history.
Following a virtual event last year, the 16th annual festival returns to in-person screenings at the Manship Theater next week.
The festival opens at 7 pm Wednesday with “A crime on the bayou”. Documentary directed by Nancy Buirski, the film revolves around a 1966 incident in which a young black man from the parish of Plaquemines tried to stop an argument between black and white teenagers. Police arrested Gary Duncan later that day for assaulting a minor. Richard Sobol, a young Jewish lawyer from Washington, DC, volunteered to defend Duncan in a case that reached the United States Supreme Court.
“A Crime on the Bayou,” noted Jewish Film Festival co-founder Ara Rubyan, has a perfect score on the film review site Rottentomatoes.com.
“A lot of the movies we show aren’t recorded on sites like Rotten Tomatoes,” Rubyan said. “This one is on Rotten Tomatoes with 100%. We are excited to show this film because it has a Louisiana angle and is particularly relevant to our audiences. “
“Space Torah,” a short film about a Jewish astronaut who brought a small Torah scroll aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, will screen before “A Crime on the Bayou”.
The festival continues Thursday at 7 pm with the feature documentary “Born in Auschwitz”. In this Hungarian production, directors Eszter Cseke and András S. Takács tell the story of the only Jewish baby born in Auschwitz to survive the Nazi death camp. The film spans the two generations that have followed it.
“We have long believed that we want to tell more than the story of the Holocaust,” Rubyan said. “We want to tell the story of what happened to people and their children after the Holocaust. “Born in Auschwitz” is about three generations impacted by the event. “
“Honeymood,” a romantic comedy from Israel, premieres at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday January 15.
In Hebrew with subtitles, the film takes place overnight in Jerusalem. In “Honeymood,” the bride and groom argue in their hotel suite before embarking on a nighttime journey into the past, in which they revisit former lovers and contemplate the life they leave behind.
“Honeymood” reminds Rubyan of Martin Scorsese’s 1985 black comedy classic, “After Hours”.
“(The newlyweds) roam the streets of Jerusalem, solving their problems,” he said. “It’s hard to find a really funny comedy, but it’s even harder to do it in a Jewish film. This one rang all the bells. It’s sophisticated, pleasing to the eye, funny, and dark.
“Eight Nights”, a short comedy about a struggling actor who plays a human menorah on Conan O’Brien’s show, precedes “Honeymood”.
Perhaps the oldest film the festival has ever screened, “The Light Ahead” premieres at 3pm on Sunday January 16th. A classic of Yiddish cinema, it came out on the brink of WWII.
Recently restored by the National Center for Jewish Film, “The Light Ahead” is a romance about a young couple living in an Eastern European shtetl in the 1880s. Too poor to marry and disabled, the couple dream nonetheless. to leave the village for a better life in Odessa.
“The Light Ahead,” says its official description, is “at once romantic, expressionist and painfully aware of the danger about to engulf European Jews. … The embrace of the superstition of the inhabitants of the shtetl over science and modernity in the midst of a cholera epidemic, makes “The Light Ahead” particularly poignant for contemporary audiences. “
Based on the work of SY Abramovitch, the novelist considered the grandfather of Yiddish literature, “The Light Ahead” features actors from New York’s Artef and Yiddish Art Theaters.
“It was one of the last films of its kind,” said Rubyan. “After the founding of Israel, Yiddish fell into disuse and Hebrew became the international language of the Jewish people. I would dare say that hardly anyone in our audience will ever have seen a Yiddish film.
Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival
Wednesday-Sunday January 16
Manship Theater, 100, rue Lafayette.
$ 8.50 per screening