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:: Spotlight :: 2009 Festival of Jewish Cinema

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

The Festival of Jewish Cinema celebrates its 20th Birthday this year with an impressive collection of new features, documentaries and special encore screenings of some of the festival favourites that have screened over the last 20 years. Starting off the celebrations on Thursday, November 12 is the opening night film, A Matter of Size, which takes a comical look at Middle East politics and other ‘big issues’ as it follows the lives of four overweight friends.

The celebrations continue with the world premiere of Wrong Side of the Bus from Sydney filmmaker Rod Freedman. This moving documentary follows internationally recognised professor of psychiatry Sidney Bloch on his journey back to South Africa to face his past, the Apartheid years and the part he played in it. From the Cannes Fortnight comes the Australian Premiere of Acne in which thirteen year old Rafa has just celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. While he should be enjoying the special time he is preoccupied with bad skin, divorcing parents and his inability to talk to girls.

Other highlights include; Argentinean director Daniel Burman, whose Waiting For Messiah, Lost Embrace and Family Law screened in past Festivals - this year he brings us Empty Nest which takes a look at what happens when the parents are left to their own devices once their children have flown from the nest; and not to be missed is the French romantic comedy Hello Goodbye starring the ever popular Gerard Depardieu and Fanny Ardent.

Rounding out the feature titles; Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe star in Paul Schroeder's Adam Resurrected, a moving story of a man living in an experimental insane asylum who is forced to face his past when he meets a child as troubled as him; For My Father, the suspenseful thriller in which a man is forced to live amongst the very people he had planned to kill; and from Cannes is Eyes Wide Open a boundary pushing film of two men in an ultra-Orthodox community on the edges of Jerusalem who do the unthinkable, fall in love.

As always the festival will be screening a strong collection of documentaries, starting with the local film Leave The Stones There which traces Melbourne journalist and second generation Holocaust survivor Julie Szego's journey with her parents on their pilgrimage to their hometowns in Hungary; A History of Israeli Cinema is a must see for any fans of Israeli films, exploring the industry through a fascinating array of interviews with Israeli identities. Killing Kasztner is the remarkable story of a Hungarian Jew who saved more people in WWII than Oskar Schindler, so why is he relatively unknown?; and Inside Hana's Suitcase - one of the few films about the Holocaust suitable for children.

In keeping, the festival is making the screening open for any age, with all tickets priced at $10. The Festival of Jewish Cinema is now classified 15+ for all sessions or any age if accompanied by an adult.

The festival runs in Melbourne from November 12-29, 2009

Venues: Australian Centre for the Moving Image & the Classic Cinema, Elsternwick.

Full program details will be available in the programme brochure and on the official website

Opening Night Film & Party $25.00
Single sessions $17.00 | Gold Pass $91.00 | other passes available.

Bookings: Tickets for both venues can be purchased by phone through the ACMI Cinemas' Festival Bookings Line on (03) 8663 2222, or in person at the ACMI Box Office

For more information, visit