The Tuscaloosa Arts Council will present the 10th Annual Tuscaloosa Jewish Film Festival March 24 to 27 at the Bama Theatre. The festival was established in 2003 with the goals of introducing local audiences to the best of Jewish filmmaking and expanding cultural and social understanding.
The festival begins on March 24 at 6:30 p.m. with a Jewish food festival, limited to 200 patrons, featuring traditional foods and those adapted to the modern Jewish table. The food festival will be highlighted by a performance of Klezmer music provided by The Promised Band. The ensemble is composed of local musicians Gaines Brake, clarinet, Line Ringuette-Brake, clarinet & bass clarinet, Bob McKinney, bass and Raphael Crystal, piano.
The opening film is “The Yankles,” about an upstart, Orthodox yeshiva baseball team that earns a ticket to compete in the college world series, coached by Charlie Jones, an ex-major league center fielder on parole for multiple DUI convictions and desperate to fulfill his community service.
On March 25 at 2 p.m., there will be a short feature, “Kosher,” about a 6-year-old Christian boy who wants to “marry” his playground sweetheart, who is Jewish. An older boy won’t officiate unless he “converts.”
That film is followed by “In Heaven Underground: The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery,” about the largest Jewish cemetery still in use in Europe, with 115,000 graves. The documentary features a wide range of characters: mourners, tourists, a young family residing at the cemetery, a third-generation gravedigger and an ornithologist studying rare birds of prey.
March 26 at 7:30 p.m. is “A Cantor on Trial,” a 1931 short feature with someone playing three characters, all auditioning for a job as a cantor, once as an old-world Eastern European, next as a German, then as a modern American.
It is followed by “Inside Hana’s Suitcase,” a documentary of two children from pre-World War II Czechoslovakia. A group of Japanese students and their teacher discover their story after receiving a suitcase from Auschwitz with the name Hana Brady.
The festival concludes on March 27 at 7:30 p.m. with “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” a 2008 film about a woman who boards a bus in Jerusalem that is exploded by a suicide bomber. She has no memory of the attack and the days before, but is sent off on a journey to find the missing pieces after receiving a necklace.
Advance tickets are available from the Temple Emanu-El, Tuscaloosa, Sisterhood. Films are $7, with student and senior discounts. Tickets to opening night and the food festival are $12 in advance, $15 at the door if not already sold out.
To purchase tickets for the opening night reception, call (205) 759-3230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the film festival and through April 30, the Arts Council will present an exhibit of works by the late Helen Shapiro of Meridian at the theater’s Greensboro Room. The exhibit is coordinated by her personal friend and Tuscaloosa artist, Deborah Hughes.
A member of the Meridian Jewish community, Shapiro worked in a variety of media, but utilized fabric collage in her later years. She focused on subject matter reflecting the people and culture of her environment and also the diverse ethnicity and geography outside of her own Southern experience.
The galleries are open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m., and during theater activities.