The Miami Jewish Film Festival (MJFF), is proud to announce the program and plans for its upcoming milestone 25th edition, which will be a hybrid of virtual and live programming events with a record breaking 148 films in selection, and all virtual screenings accessible for free. Running from January 13-27, 2022, the festival will screen 108 feature and 40 short films representing 25 countries, including 9 world premieres, 22 international premieres, 18 North American premieres, and 9 US premieres. The lineup holds 22 first-time feature filmmakers and an unprecedented 54 films directed by women (37% of total program).
The Miami Jewish Film Festival, the largest Jewish film festival in the world, has endeavored to make its film slate as widely accessible as possible by providing its entire virtual program for free. Virtual screenings will be hosted on Eventive and will be geolocked to the state of Florida or the US. The Festival will also feature an expansive live program that will consist of popup outdoor screenings across Greater Miami at a variety of locations, including Miami Beach, Coral Gables, and North Miami-Dade, among others.
The opening night film of MJFF 2022 will be iMordecai, a heart-warming comedy that is a love letter to the city of Miami starring Academy Award-nominated and two-time Emmy-winning actor Judd Hirsch (Taxi, Independence Day) and Academy Award-nominated actors Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings) and Carol Kane (Hester Street). As the festival’s closing night for the first time falls on Holocaust International Remembrance Day, MJFF will honor and memorialize this important day with the premiere of Vadim Perlman’s powerful Holocaust drama Persian Lessons, which is Belarus’ official entry to the Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film. Both opening and closing night will take place at the historic North Beach Bandshell’s open-air amphitheater in Miami Beach.
Deepening its commitment to celebrating local emerging voices, MJFF is presenting a special focus on “Made in Florida” movies this year with four films receiving their world premieres in this showcase, including: the poignant Holocaust-themed film Against All Odds, the touching documentary Ezra, May His Memory Be a Blessing for All, a short film about local artist Donyoni, as well as MJFF’s opening night film, iMordecai. Other Florida stories premiering at the festival are the Steve McQueen-produced Three Minutes – A Lengthening, the short film Boxed, and Sylvie from the Sunshine State, which was entirely made during the COVID-19 lockdown.
MJFF is also activating a series of pop-up roadshow events that will be hosted under the stars across Greater Miami and feature special guests, live performances, and other surprises. Highlights include the outdoor premieres at the North Beach Bandshell of the acclaimed documentary Bernstein’s Wall about legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, which will be accompanied by a special live performance by the Amernet String Quartet, as well as the premiere of Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen featuring a live performance of songs from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. Other notable events include an outdoor premiere at the University of Miami (UM) of The Automat, a fascinating film about America’s most iconic automat restaurant that includes interviews with luminaries such as Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Complementing the film’s premiere will be a live discussion with director Lisa Hurwitz and Rene Rodriguez, former Miami Herald chief film critic and new manager of the Bill Cosford Cinema at UM.
On the legendary Ocean Drive strip at the historic Betsy Hotel’s rooftop, MJFF will launch its inaugural “Yiddish & Jewish Cinema Between Two Worlds” program that celebrates masterpieces of silent classic cinema. As part of its Knight Arts Challenge winning project, MJFF commissioned local artists to create original film scores that will be performed live alongside new restorations of Yiddish and Jewish silent films, including: Broken Barriers, Jewish Luck, and Hungry Hearts, which will be celebrating its centennial anniversary. South Florida artists as varied as synth musicians and rock bands have revived and contemporized this invaluable onscreen history, which captures the vibrancy of Jewish life and culture destroyed in the Holocaust. This program is made possible by the generous support of The Knight Foundation, The Betsy, and the National Center for Jewish Film.
New this year, MJFF is launching a section dedicated to Accessibility+Inclusion cinema that will showcase films that highlight the diversity and commonality of the human experience, bringing awareness and appreciation for the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with disabilities. Among the eight films featured in this unique program, highlights include the US premieres of the music-themed documentaries Just As I Am and Little Axel, the international premiere of the inspiring Israeli film A Reason to Live, and the premiere of the award-winning French drama The Specials, directed by Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano (The Intouchables) and starring Vincent Cassel.
Playing in the festival’s Next Wave Competition, which is juried by 21-35-year-old college students and young professionals, are the world premieres of Converts and Shoah Ambassadors, two uplifting films that trace personal journeys of Gen-Zers. Of the eleven films that are part of this competition, there are the exhilarating All Eyes Off Me that features an incendiary portrait of Israeli youth, the touching cinéma vérité Charm Circle presenting an intimate portrait of an eccentric Jewish family, the Israeli documentary Promised Lands, the unique film-within-a-film story about a son’s grief Death of Cinema and My Father Too, the gay romantic drama The Swimmer, the modern love story Tel Aviv, and the coming-of-age tale We Burn Like This, which took six years to make.
MJFF has expanded its Headliners program launched last year, spotlighting acclaimed standouts and selected award-winners from festivals around the world that will feature more than twenty film premieres, including: Israel’s official Oscar entry for Best International Feature Film Let It Be Morning directed by Eran Kolirin (The Band’s Visit), the Cannes Jury Prize-winning film Ahed’s Knee directed by Nadav Lapid (Synonyms), and internationally acclaimed actress Charlotte Gainsbourg’s directorial debut Jane By Charlotte, an intimate documentary profile about her mom, actress and singer Jane Birkin.
Other notable headliners include the North American premieres of the Stefan Zweig adaptation Chess Story directed by Philipp Stölzl (Young Goethe in Love), the stunningly animated drama Charlotte featuring the voice of Keira Knightley, the provocative film The Eternal Flame about The Physical Immortality Group who believe they have found eternal life, the French coming-of-age drama set during the German occupation A Radiant Girl, the incredible true story Valiant Hearts starring Camille Cottin (House of Gucci) about a group of Jewish children who hid from the Nazis in the Louvre Museum, the action thriller Plan A starring August Diehl (Inglourious Basterds) and Michael Aloni (Shtisel), and the French drama Rose starring legendary French actress Françoise Fabian (Belle de Jour, My Night at Maud’s) as a recent widow whose sorrow gives way to a deep thirst for life.
For the first time, the festival will present a dedicated block featuring noteworthy international series, including: the entire season of the mouthwatering Israeli show The Chef from the producers of Fauda and Shtisel, the limited series The New Jew that is hosted by one of Israel’s most popular comedians and TV personalities Guri Alfi, the enthralling miniseries Labyrinth of Lies set in “neutral” Switzerland after WWII, and an entire season of Nir Bergman’s (MJFF 2021 Audience Award Winner Here We Are) Tel Aviv set drama Just for Today, which won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes Series Mania.
MJFF has expanded its Ibero-American section this year, a sidebar that presents some of the best films from Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries in Europe and North, Central, and South America. Highlights include the Spanish suspense thriller The Replacement, the heartfelt family drama Alegría starring Cecilia Suárez (Nora’s Will), and the fascinating documentary Xueta Island about the legacy of the Chuetas (descendants of Mallorca’s Inquisition-era Jewish population), as well as the Argentinean faux documentary Red Star and the award-winning Brazilian documentary Leaving Paradise.
Presented in partnership with the City of Miami Beach’s OnStage! cultural arts initiative, MJFF will present free family movies nights at Miami Beach’s public parks during the festival. Kids and adults will be able to relive the magic and adventure of Steven Spielberg’s beloved family classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for its 40th Anniversary at Muss Park, and enjoy a special 35th Anniversary presentation of the high-spirited fairy tale The Princess Bride at Altos Del Mark Park.
To celebrate the Miami Jewish Film Festival milestone 25th edition, it has partnered with the digital streamer ChaiFlicks to highlight some of the festival’s most acclaimed and noteworthy movies from years past. Films included in this anniversary program are 1945, Dough, Fanny’s Journey, The Women’s Balcony, and My Polish Honeymoon, which will be presented for free on MJFF’s virtual program courtesy of ChaiFlicks’ extensive film library and geolocked to Florida residents.
Diving into the 2022 Film Festival program by the numbers, MJFF audiences will be able to experience a lineup boasting 143 film premieres, including 9 world premieres, 22 international premieres, 18 North American premieres, 9 US premieres, 36 Southeast US premieres, and 30 Florida premieres, among others, as well as over 40 conversations with filmmakers, stars, and scholars from around the world.
Full details on the program and tickets to the festival can be found at: www.miamijewishfilmfestival.org