The latest production from Moriah Films, the Oscar-winning film division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, explores of the life and times of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism. Co-written and produced by Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and directed by Richard Trank, the film features narration by Ben Kingsley and stars Christoph Waltz as the voice of Herzl.
The Skirball screens four documentaries that address the richness, complexity and inherent contradictions of the Jewish experience in the modern age.
"I never sold weed after high school -- I swear," said 31-year-old filmmaker Jonathan Levine.
Instead, he said, "The Wackness," which revolves around a dealer who trades pot for therapy sessions (and premieres in competition at the Sundance Film Festival this week), was inspired by his teen angst back in 1994, as he bemoaned his social status, bickered with his Jewish parents and obsessed about what he calls life's "wackness, the awful stuff, rather than living in the moment."
Trying to encapsulate the Jewish experience in a single film is like pouring Lake Michigan into your bathtub. And it wouldn't be any easier with a dozen films. So you can forgive Hilary Helstein, the director of the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival (LAJFF), for wanting to make her event bigger.