Fig Tree
Nov 14 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Fig Tree @ Cafritz Hall

Dir. Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian | 93 min
Narrative Ethiopia, France, Germany, Israel  2018
Amharic with English subtitles

US Theatrical Premiere!

Ethiopian-Israeli director Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian draws on her own experience of growing up in war-torn Addis Ababa.

Sixteen-year-old Mina is poised to flee Ethiopia with her grandmother to be reunited with her mother in Israel; however, she is reluctant to leave her Christian boyfriend Eli, who lives in the woods in order to avoid forcible conscription by the military. Grounded by remarkable performances, Fig Tree is a moving coming-of-age story and an auspicious feature film debut.

-Note adapted from the Toronto Jewish Film Festival

November 1-3 screenings followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian.

Partisans of Vilna
Nov 15 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Partisans of Vilna @ Cafritz Hall
Dir. Josh Waltezky | 130 min
Documentary USA  1986

An enormously riveting and inspirational tale of WWII and the Holocaust, Partisans of Vilna chronicles the amazing endeavors of the Jewish resistance fighters.

Co-written by director Josh Waletzky (Image Before My Eyes) and producer Aviva Kempner, Partisans of Vilna skillfully blends songs, newsreels and rare archival footage dating from 1939-44 and contemporary interviews with forty partisan survivors (including Abba Kovner, a founder of the partisan movement and one of Israel’s leading poets).

The film explores the difficulties of organizing under the anarchic conditions of the ghetto in Vilna, the capital of Lithuania. Recounting how a commando unit was formed under tremendous risk to conduct sabotage missions against the Nazis, the film explores the moral dilemmas facing the Jewish youth who organized an underground resistance in the Vilna ghetto, and fought as partisans in the woods against the Third Reich.

More than just a record of great historical importance, Partisans of Vilna is an intensely stirring and uplifting commemoration of heroes during the darkest of times.

Featuring producer Aviva Kempner in conversation after both screenings.

Presented as part of 40 Years of Filmmaking: An Aviva Kempner Retrospective

Nov 16 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Rosenwald @ Cafritz Hall
Dir. Aviva Kempner | 100 min
Documentary USA  2015

Rosenwald is the incredible story of Julius Rosenwald, the son of an immigrant peddler who never finished high school, who rose to become the President of Sears. Influenced by the writings of the educator Booker T. Washington, this Jewish philanthropist joined forces with African American communities during the Jim Crow South to build 5,500 schools, providing 660,000 black children with access to education in the segregated American South.

Inspired by the Jewish ideals of tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) and a deep concern over racial inequality in America, Julius Rosenwald used his wealth to become one of America’s most effective philanthropists.

Recipients of Julius Rosenwald’s seminal Rosenwald Fund for African American artists and intellectuals include Marian Anderson, James Baldwin, Julian Bond, Ralph Bunche, W.E.B. DuBois, Katherine Dunham, Ralph Ellison, John Hope Franklin, Zora Neale Hurston, Jacob Lawrence, Dr. Charles Drew, Langston Hughes, Augusta Savage, and Gordon Parks.

Addressing needs brought about by the Great Migration, Rosenwald also funded the building of housing and YMCAs for African Americans.

Director Aviva Kempner in conversation following both screenings.

Presented as part of 40 Years of Filmmaking: An Aviva Kempner Retrospective

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg
Nov 16 @ 8:45 pm – 9:45 pm
Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg @ Cafritz Hall
Dir. Aviva Kempner | 92 min
Documentary USA  2009

Yoo-Hoo Mrs Goldberg is the humorous and eye-opening story of television pioneer Gertrude Berg.

She was the creator, principal writer, and star of The Goldbergs, a popular radio show for 17 years, which became television’s very first character-driven domestic sitcom in 1949. Berg received the first Best Actress Emmy in history, and paved the way for women in the entertainment industry. Includes interviews with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actor Ed Asner, producers Norman Lear (All in the Family) and Gary David Goldberg (Family Ties), and NPR correspondent Susan Stamberg.

Director Aviva Kempner will introduce the Saturday, November 16 screening and lead a conversation after the Tuesday, November 19 screening.

Presented as part of 40 Years of Filmmaking: An Aviva Kempner Retrospective

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
Nov 17 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg @ Cafritz Hall
Dir. Aviva Kempner | 95 min
Documentary USA  1998

As Hitler invaded Europe, a young Jewish baseball player challenged Babe Ruth’s home run record. This is the story of how he became an American hero.

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg is a humorous and nostalgic documentary about an extraordinary baseball player who transcended religious prejudice to become an American icon. Detroit Tiger Hammerin’ Hank’s accomplishments during the Golden Age of Baseball rivaled those of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Included in the colorful collage of forty-seven interviews are Hank Greenberg and family members; sports figures Ira Berkow, Ernie Harwell, Joe Falls and Dick Schaap; fellow players Bob Feller, Charlie Gehringer and Ralph Kiner; fans Alan Dershowitz, Congressman Sander Levin and Senator Carl Levin; and actors Walter Matthau, Michael Moriarty, and Maury Povich.

Director Aviva Kempner in conversation after both screenings.

Presented as part of 40 Years of Filmmaking: An Aviva Kempner Retrospective

Jewish Identity Through Film
Nov 17 @ 3:00 pm
Jewish Identity Through Film @ Edlavitch DCJCC

Screenings and Dialogues led by Professor Amitai Etzioni

Through the course of seven sessions—and seven seminal films curated by the professor Amitai Etzioni —we will explore a range of perspectives on the legacy of the Shoah, the Eastern European Jewish experience, the Zionist project, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the role of women in Orthodox Jewish society and more.

After each screening, Professor Etzioni will lead an audience dialogue. Each session is pay-what-you-can, and attendees can come to as many or as few as they choose. Light snacks, coffee and tea will be provided between the films screening and discussions that follow.

Amitai Etzioni is a University Professor and Professor of International Relations at The George Washington University. He is the author of My Brother’s Keeper.


Sunday, October 6, 3:00 PM – Sarah’s Key

Sunday, October 13, 3:00 PM – Ida

Sunday, October 20, 2:30 PM – Sunshine

Sunday, October 27, 3:00 PM – The Attack

Sunday, November 3, 3:00 PM – In the Land of Pomegranates

Sunday, November 10, 3:00 PM – Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

Sunday, November 17, 3:00 PM – Exodus (1st half only)

The Spy Behind Home Plate
Nov 17 @ 6:45 pm – 7:45 pm
The Spy Behind Home Plate @ Cafritz Hall
Dir. Aviva Kempner | 101 min
Documentary USA  2019

Moe Berg led two lives: one was of public accomplishment, easy grace, and dazzling intellect. Hidden from view was his career as an OSS operative, whose daring deeds helped prevent the Axis powers from developing an atom bomb.

Tagged the ‘brainiest man in baseball,’ the son of Jewish immigrants stumped collegiate competitors by calling signals in Latin, and was eventually called up to the majors—playing catcher for the Washington Senators and other clubs during baseball’s Golden Age.

He went on to join Babe Ruth on an All-Star tour to Japan, which brought his heroism, athletic career, and spy-craft together.

Director Aviva Kempner will lead a conversation after the Sunday, November 17 screening and introduce the Saturday, November 23 screening.

Presented as part of 40 Years of Filmmaking: An Aviva Kempner Retrospective

Nov 29 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Synonyms @ Cafritz Hall
Dir. Nadav Lapid | 123 min
Narrative France, Germany, Israel  2019
FrenchHebrew with English subtitles

Loosely based on director Nadav Lapid’s (The Kindergarten Teacher) own experiences, the film follows young Israeli ex-soldier Yoav—played by newcomer Tom Mercier, in an incredible performance—who escapes his country and past to take up residence in Paris. Armed with a pocket-sized French dictionary, Yoav refuses to speak his native Hebrew as he desperately tries to immerse himself in French society. Living on only a few francs a day, he bounces from job to job on a wildly erratic journey, attempting to assimilate into a seemingly impenetrable culture.

Unpredictable yet kinetically assured, Lapid’s lucid assault against nationhood asks if individuals can ever be fully extricated from the society into which they were born. While Synonyms is loaded with ideas about identity, both personal and national, it’s the intense emotional impact of Yoav’s experiences that resonate so strongly.

-Note adapted from the Toronto International Film Festival

Film contains adult content, themes, and nudity

A Hidden Life
Dec 9 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
A Hidden Life @ Cafritz Hall
Dir. Terrence Malick | 173 min
Narrative Germany, USA  2019
English  Sneak Preview

Based on real events, from visionary writer-director Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line) A Hidden Life is the story of an unsung hero, Franz Jägerstätter, who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II.

When the Austrian peasant farmer is faced with the threat of execution for treason, it is his unwavering faith and his love for his wife Fani and children that keeps his spirit alive.

Screening courtesy of Fox Searchlight.

Dec 13 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Shoelaces @ Cafritz Hall
Dir. Jacob Goldwasser | 90 min
Narrative Israel  2018
Hebrew with English subtitles

Nominated for 8 Israeli Academy Awards including Best Picture, Shoelaces tells the gently comic story of a complicated relationship between an aging father and his special-needs adult son.

Reuven’s (Doval’e Glickman, Shtisel) kidneys are failing and his son Gadi (Nevo Kimchi, Footnote, Restoration) wants to donate one of his own to help save his father’s life. However, the transplant committee objects, claiming that Reuven, acting as Gadi’s sole legal guardian after the recent passing of his mom, does not have the right to authorize such an invasive procedure.

Afraid of losing his father as well, Gadi feels he finally has the chance to do something meaningful and stand on his own, and he sets out to fight for his right to save his father’s life. Co-starring Yafit Asulin (The Women’s Balcony) and Evelin Hagoel (A Matter of Size, The Women’s Balcony), Shoelaces is a heartwarming story full of love, life, and human connection.