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Jewish film festival comes to Atlanta, brings culture

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Jewish film festival comes to Atlanta, brings culture

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival enters it's 12th year of production this year,showing 77 films including the first israeli horror film

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival enters it's 12th year of production this year,showing 77 films including the first israeli horror film

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival enters it's 12th year of production this year,showing 77 films including the first israeli horror film

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival enters it's 12th year of production this year,showing 77 films including the first israeli horror film

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BY GRACE POWER

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival enters it's 12th year of production this year,showing 77 films including the first israeli horror film

“Rated K for Kosher” read the sign outside the Lefont Theater. People trickled into a packed theater before a showing of a film titled My Best Enemy, a narrative portraying a Jewish Viennese art dealer attempting to recover a priceless Michelangelo with the assistance of his unlikely accomplice. It was the beginning of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

This film, which premiered this year at the Berlin International Film Festival, launched this years Jewish Film Festival. The festival, strives to connect cultures and provide a greater understanding of Jewish faith and culture.

When describing the origins of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Kendel White, senior account executive and public relations contact for the festival, explained that the film festival strives to create links within cultures.

“When they [the Atlanta Chapter of the American Jewish Committee] were thinking about opportunities and ways to build bridges with other cultures and other religions and other people of other faiths, film is one of the best ways to do that,” White said.

This February, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival entered its 12th year of production this February. The three-week festival featured more than 70 films, all possessing Jewish content. Although each film is selected based on its relation to Jewish culture, this festival does not pigeonhole its audience.

“It brings the entire community, no matter what race, religion…it affects everyone,” said Carol Sacs, an usher for the festival. The festival strives to provide a look at the Jewish culture to a large demographic.

“It offers a really great cultural experience,” said White. “You do not have to be Jewish to enjoy the films that we show. They’re really good, independent foreign films and they aren’t all Holocaust films. We have some comedy and some designed for children.” White explained that although there was a large Jewish audience, their non-Jewish audience is ever growing.

“We are always encouraged to look for things other than traditional [films], documentary or foreign,” Jeanette Gregory, Administrative Coordinator for the Atlanta Jewish Committee explained as she stood outside of a viewing of Rabies, a horror movie dubbed “Israel’s first scare fest.” This was the first horror film shown at the film festival, but Gregory said they will continue to “look for any sort of topic or genre to attract diverse audiences, such as this.”

Even without all their outreach programs to attract guests, most of their shows were sold out and they have sold 26,000 tickets this year alone.

“[The film festival] can’t help but sell out shows. [We] have such an amazing crowd,” said Gregory. Many of them return for multiple movies during the festival and come back each year said Melody Euchman, a volunteer for the festival.

“As you start to talk to people, they reference old movies from previous years,” said Euchmnan.

Patrons such as Michael McKinney, an avid supporter of film festivals, come for many reasons.

“I like to see films, especially films that I am not normally exposed to,” McKinney said. “It’s important to support film festivals. Anytime you have an event that brings people together, it will benefit the community.” Because the festival tries to cater to all interests, they attract many people who don’t only come for the religious culture.

“I’m a ceniphile, I love film,” said Brenda Niforth, who frequents film festivals and has returned to this particular festival multiple times. “It’s a really good, really well known film festival that’s for people of all interests.”

The patrons have formed a sort of community among themselves.

Gregory explained that most returning viewers know each other, which forms a sense of community, but this community is not exclusively Jewish.

The film festival attracted many from the greater Atlanta community, as evident in the 26,000 ticket sales by Feb 15. The festival attracted a wide range of people.

“Ultimately, that’s what we want,” White said. “People of all faiths who are interested in seeing great films to come to the festival, Jewish or not. We don’t pick films based on whether we think a Jewish person would like it or not, it’s just, ‘is it a good film.’”

The festival welcomes everyone, and makes sure not to ostracize other religions. Gregory said that she, as a non-Jewish staff member, is looked to by other staff members often to provide critique on whether or not gentiles will understand the jokes.

“There’s something for everyone, just with a Jewish twist,” Gregory said.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Jewish film festival comes to Atlanta, brings culture”

  1. Randy on December 21st, 2015 1:45 am

    I’m quite pleased with the inofimatron in this one. TY!

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