Israel's U.S. ambassador, Michael Oren, said the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Gatekeepers" complicates his mission.
"Hava Nagila” is one of those songs, like “Celebration” and “Auld Lang Syne,” that brings back memories and gets stuck in one’s head. In fact, “Hava Nagila” is so ingrained in American pop culture that many non-Jews can readily identify it, and high-profile non-Jewish recording artists, including Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis and Glen Campbell, count their renditions as a career highlight.
Some 65 years after a band of foreign volunteers fought in the skies above Israel to assure the nation’s birth and survival, filmmakers are racing to bring their exploits to the screen before the last of the breed passes away.
Five Broken Cameras (2011), a documentary currently up for a 2013 Oscar and co-directed by the film’s narrator and videographer, Palestinian Emad Burnat, and Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, attempts to erase the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film unfolds as a Palestinian fairy tale, narrated in a soothing, storytelling voice:
How can a dubious and unoriginal Israeli movie become the darling of the film world and even get nominated for an Academy Award?
Call their style Michael Moore meets Sacha Baron Cohen.
Back in the 1930s and ’40s, when Diaspora Jews desperately needed a symbol of Jewish strength and pride, the brawny, sunburned kibbutznik became the poster image for the new Jew emerging in Palestine.
Filmmaker Debbie Goodstein has taken to heart the adage, “Write what you know.” Her 1989 Holocaust documentary, “Voices From the Attic,” recounts her mother’s years of hiding in a garret where snow descended through slats in the roof, a baby died and food was scarce.
Producer Scott Rosenfelt, whose credits include “Home Alone” and ”Mystic Pizza,” is threatening a major Jewish film festival after its director raised concerns that Rosenfelt's documentary about sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community amounts to a “witch hunt.”
The Weinstein Co. on Monday said it has decided to release its documentary "Bully" without a U.S. film rating after failing to persuade the Motion Picture Association of America to change to one that is less restrictive.
At Sioux City Middle School in Iowa, 12-year-old Alex Libby is the odd-man-out. Seen by his peers as different, he has golden hair, gentle eyes, a wide, flat nose and permanently puckered lips. Together, they might seem to express something both pouty and vulnerable, sweet and sad. Kids are not so kind. “People call me fish face,” he blankly tells the camera in the new documentary “Bully” by filmmaker Lee Hirsch. “I don’t mind.”
Ron Avi Astor, the Richard M. and Ann L. Thor Professor in Urban Social Development at USC, has been studying the epidemiology of school violence for nearly 30 years. In 1997, he moved his family to Jerusalem for one year to run the first-ever large-scale comprehensive school violence survey in Israel, with his partner, Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor Rami Benbenishty.
The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery is 130 years old and has survived the kaiser’s imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic, and, astonishingly, the Nazi regime.
Early on, in a new documentary about Woody Allen, the cultural icon sits in the back seat of his chauffer-driven car, pondering his mortality. He tells a story of a formative near-death experience that occurred when he was a small child in his crib: His mother was at work when his nanny told him, and then demonstrated, that if she wanted to, she could smother him. For a few seconds, she wrapped a blanket around his face.
In the opening scene of the documentary “Torn,” an official asks an elderly man for his name, and he replies, “Romuald-Jakub Weksler-Waszkinel.”
A coalition of documentation preservation groups, including national archives from six nations, is launching a portal that accesses records on stolen Nazi-era cultural property.
Israeli director Alma Har’el took top honors at the Tribeca Film Festival in the documentary category. “Bombay Beach,” her feature-length film, follows three down-and-out residents of a ghost town on the Salton Sea, a surrealistic landscape in Southern California filled with losers and dreamers.
When Israel fought its War of Independence, there were no embedded TV cameramen, and even combat newsreel photographers were practically nonexistent. The newly created state had more important matters to worry about. More surprisingly, there have been hardly any movies celebrating the near miraculous victories of 1948-49, and, later, of the Six-Day War in 1967.
“STOP Israel’s deportation of 400 children,” the advertisement in the Saturday, Mar. 5, edition of the Los Angeles Times called out in large type.
'Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Suss' examines the notorious film's effect on the Nazi filmmaker's offspring.
When Gabriela Böhm set out to create her documentary, "The Longing: The Forgotten Jews of South America," several years ago, she hoped to profile an as-yet-undiscovered secret community of Crypto Jews -- descendants of Jews forced to flee the Spanish Inquisition who continued practicing rituals covertly.
Some still affectionately refer to the game that they and top coaches such as Red Sarachek and Red Auerbach developed -- emphasizing teamwork, crisp passing and defense -- as "Jew ball."
Israel documentary director talks about his shoot with Gov. Sarah Palin
Rosie O'Donnell was impressed enough by Medalia and her venture that she joined the project as executive producer.
Earlier this year, he called the office of the governor of Alaska to ask permission to shoot Sarah Palin for his new film, a documentary about powerful women of the world. Because he had spent a lot of time in Alaska, he'd heard about the feisty Palin and thought she'd be a natural.
"My big idea for the CD was, 'Let's give this to our families for Chanukah,'" Hyams said. "I never thought we'd get a record deal, because I figured 'This is stupid and Jewish and no one cares except us.'"
This may be your only chance to help a budding filmmaker out and see "The Impossible Itself."
Her chance came when she heard Sauvage say he intended to create financing for a movie as his summer MBA project in 2005. "You should make your movie about me," she told him. Sauvage, who at the time did not know she had been abused, cavalierly replied that unless she had been a child prostitute, he wasn't interested.
This video, an open source release of Mercer County Community College in New Jersey, gives a good, factual overview of the meaning and tradition of the Jewish coming-of-age ritual, the Bar Mitzvah.
Early in "A Jihad for Love," a new documentary directed by Parvez Sharma and produced by Sandi Simcha Dubowski, we meet Mazen, a 20-something Egyptian man who has fled Cairo for Paris to avoid the three-year prison sentence authorities want to impose on him because he is gay.
So what can you say about a 44-year-old comedian who died? That she leaves a certain legacy of laughter, through the efforts of her brother, to those who never heard of her.
The era of Jewish boxers -- tough guys from the ghettos, like Benny Leonard and Barney Ross -- is over. For that matter, the era of boxing itself, once king of all American sports, has passed, as well. In that regard, Dmitriy Salita is doubly a throwback, being both Jewish and a boxer, with an added twist: As a practicing Orthodox Jew, he does not fight on the Sabbath. What normally might be a potentially fatal limitation for a boxer (many fights are scheduled for weekend nights) has proved to be a public relations bonanza for this undefeated junior welterweight, now the star of Jason Hutt's documentary film, "Orthodox Stance," opening April 11 in Los Angeles.
Hollywood movies and television have shaped the way most of the world perceives the Final Solution, narrator Gene Hackman observes at the beginning of "Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust." It is a statement that may not sit too well with generations of historians and authors, but the evidence validates the conclusion.
Calendar Girls picks and clicks for March 22-28
Picks and clicks for March 15-21
Seated at his office in Beverly Hills, Ben Mittleman, 57, doesn't have a trace of gray in his sandy-brown hair. He says his mother used to kid him that he must have had a "facelift or something," but despite the fact that this veteran TV actor turned director-producer looks 10 years younger than his age, he underwent heart surgery in 2001. That experience is the subject of "Dying to Live," along with his response to the cancers that later took the lives of both his mother and his wife, Valerie. The film premieres Thursday, March 13, at Laemmle's Music Hall, where it will screen for two weeks.
Calendar Girls picks and kicks for March 8 -15
"I have a strong kinship with Abbie Hoffman," admitted Brett Morgen, writer and director of the semidocumentary film, "Chicago 10." "I haven't seen anyone in my lifetime that spoke to me the way he did." It was during the 1969 Chicago conspiracy trial that Hoffman and his co-defendants were dubbed "The Chicago 8." The radical group also included Yippie co-founder Jerry Rubin and Tom Hayden, a future California assemblyman and state senator. While researching his film, Morgen found an interview with Rubin that said they should be called the Chicago 10 because their lawyers, William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass, were charged and sentenced for contempt. Taking his cue from Rubin, Morgen named his film "Chicago 10."
We haven't kept up with Ari Sandel since the nice Jewish boy from Calabasas came out of nowhere last year to win an Oscar for his hilarious short film "West Bank Story." His second venture, "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days and 30 Nights -- Hollywood to the Heartland," has opened to excellent reviews and is now playing in general release.
Lior Liebling davens everywhere: in the backyard, in school and on the swing set. Some congregants at his synagogue, Mishkan Shalom of Mount Arie, Pa., call him the "little rebbe."
"The Zohar tells stories of miracle children who were spiritual geniuses," one synagogue member said. "Well, that's what Lior is."
Lior is the 13-year-old featured in the new documentary, "Praying With Lior," which highlights the bar mitzvah of a Jewish child living with Down syndrome. The character study of this boy tells of how Lior's community successfully integrates him into communal life -- a challenge many Jewish communities face with mentally and physically disabled members.
Jewish life in North America was nearly aborted before birth when the governor of New Amsterdam sought to expel 23 Brazilian Jews, who landed at the southern tip of Manhattan in 1654.
In a petition to his superiors at the Dutch West India Company in Amsterdam, Peter Stuyvesant urged "that this deceitful race... be not allowed to further infest and trouble the new colony."
The inspiration for "Holly," a docudrama about child sex-trafficking, came as Israeli-born producer Guy Jacobson inadvertently wandered into a notorious red light district in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh five years ago.
Dr. Francine Kaufman has seen the incidence of diabetes skyrocket in the last 30 years. The pediatric endocrinologist is director of the Comprehensive Childhood Diabetes Center at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, and she says the disease's local increase is part of a worldwide phenomenon. Now Kaufman is turning to the small screen to bring attention to this global epidemic in a one-hour, commercial-free Discovery Health documentary narrated by actress Glenn Close, "Diabetes: A Global Epidemic," on Sunday, Nov. 18.
For independent filmmakers Dan Katzir and Ravit Markus, making "Yiddish Theater: A Love Story" was the easy part; booking the documentary into a commercial venue where people could see it was the real struggle. After two years of rebuffs, the director and producer of "Yiddish Theater" can now pop open the champagne. The feel-good, feel-sad film is opening this month in Tel Aviv, New York and Los Angeles, thanks to persistence and the Internet.
"I'm a very special Holocaust survivor," Jack Polak says. "I was in the camps with my wife and my girlfriend, and, believe me, it wasn't easy." This may sound like a line from the new genre of Holocaust films with humor, but Polak (who is Jacob on his birth certificate, Jack in America, Jaap to his Dutch friends and Jab to his wife) is just stating the facts in the documentary feature, "Steal a Pencil for Me."
In 2005, Italian filmmaker Davide Ferrario decided to mark the 60th anniversary of Primo Levi's liberation by retracing the route of the writer's journey in January 1945, from Auschwitz to his hometown of Turin, with a camera crew. The result is Ferrario's documentary "Primo Levi's Journey". Intercutting footage from the 2005 journey with Levi's earlier observations on the same places, the film is disorienting in the beginning. Only gradually does it become clear that Ferrario is contrasting how much -- and how little -- has changed in the 60-year interval.
While the Darfur crisis enters its fifth year, the American Jewish Committee and Warner Independent Pictures have taken a lead in raising awareness of and combating the genocide in the Western Sudan region, where an estimated 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced. For some time now, the AJC has had a national task force dedicated to Darfur, but in the past year and a half, members of the AJC's Los Angeles branch developed a film proposal that ultimately led to "Darfur Now," a documentary from Warner Independent that follows the efforts of six people to resolve the humanitarian disaster. The film will be released in theaters on Nov. 2.
In "The Unknown Soldier," German director Michael Verhoeven sees the Wehrmacht Exhibition as a litmus test of German willingness to confront the past, a theme he examined earlier in "The White Rose" (1982) and "The Nasty Girl" (1990).
The September release of a new documentary that follows Jimmy Carter on tour for his controversial book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," has reignited the longstanding animosity many Iranian Americans feel toward the former U.S. president.
Amir Bar-Lev began his documentary, "My Kid Could Paint That," after he tired of creating television programs about pop culture for networks such as VH-1.
The Nazi regime was not only the world's greatest murderer, but the biggest thief as well. High on the list of loot were Europe's master paintings and sculptures