JFilm festival to present 17 films, guest artists

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The 21st annual JFilm festival will launch March 27 with "Cupcakes," close with "It Happened in St. Tropez" and present grit, suspense, comedy, inspiration and challenging material in between.

Among the 17 features playing at four venues over 11 days will be the North American premiere of the documentary "Farewell, Herr Schwarz," a look at the Holocaust's grip on three generations of a family.

Filmmaker Yael Reuveny, who will speak after two showings of the movie, set out to uncover what happened to her grandmother's brother, long believed lost in World War II.

Another notable entry is "Brave Miss World," a documentary about Linor Abargil, who was crowned Miss Israel and modeling in Italy when she was kidnapped, stabbed and raped outside of Milan.

She later was named Miss World and the 92-minute documentary shows her confronting her attacker, journeying to empowerment and healing herself and others by sharing her story without shame. Ms. Abargil will appear after two showings of the movie on April 3.

Festival tickets go on sale today for the event which has made some changes to accommodate patron requests. Many movies will screen more than once and some late afternoon weekday matinees have been added.

The Manor Theater in Squirrel Hill again will serve as the festival's main home, with movies also being shown at the Carmike 10 at South Hills Village in Bethel Park, Rodef Shalom Congregation in Shadyside and Seton Hill University in Greensburg.

Tickets for the opening night film of "Cupcakes" and reception at the Jewish Community Center are $65 ($18 for full-time students age 26 and younger) if purchased by noon March 21. After that date, they will be $80, cash only at the door.

Other special prices: "The Sturgeon Queens," includes "A Taste of Jewish Pittsburgh," $20, and "Brave Miss World" with VIP reception and film at Rodef Shalom, $50.

All other films are $10 general admission, $8 for advance group tickets and $5 for those 18 and younger. Tickets are available through www.JFilmPgh.org or 412-992-5203 weekdays 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Scheduled to screen:

 "Cupcakes" -- Frothy comedy, set in contemporary Tel Aviv, about a group of diverse 30-somethings who jokingly write a song to cheer a heartbroken friend. To their surprise, it's chosen as Israel's entry in an international song competition. In Hebrew with English subtitles. 7 p.m. March 27, Manor, with reception at the Jewish Community Center's Katz Theater.

"Bethlehem" -- Espionage thriller about the complex relationship between an Israeli Secret Service officer and his teenage Palestinian informant. Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles. 5 p.m. March 28, Manor.

"Hunting Elephants" -- The poster summarizes it this way: The story of three old men, a clever kid and a bank that just had to be robbed. Cast includes Patrick Stewart. Hebrew and English with subtitles. 7 p.m. March 29 and 4:45 p.m. April 1, both Manor.

"The German Doctor" -- Thriller about a young Argentinian couple who prepare to open a remote hotel in Patagonia in 1960 and meet a mysterious German doctor, unaware he is wanted by Israel's secret service. Spanish, German and Hebrew with subtitles. 9 p.m. March 29 and 5:15 p.m. April 2, both Manor.

"The Sturgeon Queens" -- A look at the four generations of family behind the Russ and Daughters emporium, specializing in smoked herring and lox, on New York's Lower East Side. Followed by "A Taste of Jewish Pittsburgh" with food samples. 11:30 a.m. March 30, Manor.

"Dancing in Jaffa" -- Pierre Dulaine, an internationally renowned ballroom dancer, fulfills a life-long dream when he takes his program, Dancing Classrooms, back to his city of birth, Jaffa. He teaches 10-year-old Palestinian-Israeli and Jewish-Israeli children to dance and compete together. Students from Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh will perform. 6:30 p.m. March 30, Manor.

"The Zigzag Kid" -- Whimsical coming-of-age tale, adapted from Israeli writer David Grossman's book, about a boy who is days from his bar mitzvah when he embarks on a grand adventure. Dutch, French and English with subtitles. 7 p.m. March 31 at Carmike 10 and 3:30 p.m. April 6, Manor.

"Kidon" -- Espionage comedy about a con game involving spies, diplomats and good-hearted thieves. Cast includes Bar Refaeli, onetime girlfriend of Leonardo DiCaprio. Hebrew and French with subtitles. 7:30 p.m. March 31, Manor.

"Aftermath" -- Wladyslaw Pasikowski's controversial drama about the 1941 massacre of Jews in a Polish village, nominated for seven top Polish film awards and also branded as anti-Polish propaganda and banned in some cinemas. Polish with subtitles. 7 p.m. April 1 at Manor (program and reception to follow) and 5 p.m. April 4 at Manor.

"The Jewish Cardinal" -- Drama about Jean-Marie Lustiger, who was born to Polish Jews, converted to Roman Catholicism and became leader of the French church and an adviser to Pope John Paul II before his 2005 retirement and 2007 death. French with subtitles. 7 p.m. April 1 at Seton Hill's Cecilian Hall, and 7 p.m. April 5 at Manor.

"Blumenthal" -- Writer-director-actor and CMU grad Seth Fisher will speak after the Pittsburgh premiere of his comedy about the sudden death of a celebrated playwright -- laughing at his own joke -- and the relationship ripples it sets off. 7:30 p.m. April 2, Manor.

"When Comedy Went to School" -- Portrait of Borscht Belt comedians such as Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Jackie Mason, Mort Sahl and Jerry Stiller, told through interviews and early footage. 4:45 p.m. April 3, Manor.

"Brave Miss World" -- See description on Page W-12. 6:30 p.m. April 3 at Rodef Shalom with VIP reception at 5:30 p.m. A separate showing of the movie also that evening is part of a Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh's Women's Philanthropy Event. See www.jfedpgh.org for details.

"Afternoon Delight" -- Adults-only film about a woman who lives in a hip, upscale LA suburb and goes to a strip club to spice up her marriage. She meets a stripper and becomes obsessed with saving her in this film starring Kathryn Hahn. 9 p.m. April 5, Manor.

"Next Year Jerusalem" -- Indie documentary about eight nursing home residents who travel to Israel on a tour. 1 p.m. April 6, Manor.

"It Happened in St. Tropez" -- Ensemble French comedy about sibling rivalry with two brothers who are polar opposites, love triangles, beautiful women and religious conflict. In French with subtitles. 7 p.m. April 6, Manor.

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