The Results Are In: Which Films Made the Cut in 2017's Houston Jewish Film Festival?

The Houston Jewish Film Festival kicks off on March 5. Opening night festivities begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a 7:30 p.m. screening of Harmonia, a poignant metaphor for the struggle between the rival sibling religions of JerusalemEXPAND
The Houston Jewish Film Festival kicks off on March 5. Opening night festivities begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a 7:30 p.m. screening of Harmonia, a poignant metaphor for the struggle between the rival sibling religions of Jerusalem
Photo by Itiel Zion

Curating flicks for the annual Houston Jewish Film Festival involves a little bit of the good, the bad and (sometimes) the ugly. It also sounds remarkably similar to the Academy Awards selection process, but without all the super-secret, locked-briefcase, cloak-and-dagger tallying of PwC accountants.

On the plus side, the committee of about 20 jurors gets to preview dozens of screeners submitted by distributors. As for the bad, John Dreyfus, a self-described "huge film buff" who is in his second year chairing the committee, tells us they don't get any of the Hollywood perks. "We don't get the swag bags from the producers," says Dreyfus. "We probably receive about 100 films a year and then we cull it down. This year we've showing about 27 different movies."

He says there are often spirited discussions about which films make the cut, because everybody's tastes are different. "There's a movie that I really liked that's called Our Father. It's very violent, gritty, about a sensitive man who is a bouncer in a bar in Tel Aviv who is having difficulty impregnating his wife and compromises his values," says Dreyfus, adding that it will appeal to fans of The Sopranos. "I really liked it, but some people on the committee found it too violent."

The end result is that Houston audiences get to view a diverse lineup of films (documentary, comedy, drama and thriller), including 16 Houston premieres and even a few visits from directors: Dani Menkin (On the Map), Howard Rosenman (The Family Man, Father of the Bride) and Shimon Dotan (The Settlers).

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While most films are either made in Israel or include Jewish content, the organizers stretched the criteria a bit this year to include The Marx Brothers films At the Circus and Duck Soup. "Groucho is Rufus T. Firefly in [Duck Soup]. It's one of his most famous characters, and he becomes the president of this country called Freedonia," says Dreyfus. He calls it timeless, and this anarchic satire about war, politics and affairs of state seems as fresh today as it was in 1933.

There's a sneak preview on February 27. The Houston Jewish Film Festival runs March 5-19 at various locations in Houston and Galveston. For information, visit erjcchouston.org/arts/houston-jewish-film-festival.

Monday, February 27 (sneak preview)
7:30 p.m., Fever at Dawn (Hajnali Láz), Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $6

Sunday, March 5
2 p.m., On the Map, Premiere Cinema 11 Galveston, 8902 Seawall, Galveston, free (with canned good)
2 p.m., Guavas, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $10 family ticket
7:30 p.m., Harmonia, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $12 to $18

Short Film Night screens on March 6 and includes The Little Dictator. In this 29-minute short directed by Nurith Cohn, a dull history professor finds himself in a surreal situation at the 90th birthday party of his wife's grandmother, a Holocaust survivor.EXPAND
Short Film Night screens on March 6 and includes The Little Dictator. In this 29-minute short directed by Nurith Cohn, a dull history professor finds himself in a surreal situation at the 90th birthday party of his wife's grandmother, a Holocaust survivor.
Still courtesy of Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston

Monday, March 6
5 p.m., Moos, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $6
7:30 p.m., Short Film Night (An Old Score, The Little Dictator, Incognito and An Average Story) Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $9 to $14

Tuesday, March 7
5 p.m., AKA Nadia, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $6
7:30 p.m., On the Map, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $9 to $14

Wednesday, March 8
5 p.m., Vice Versa, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $6
7 p.m., An Evening with Howard Rosenman, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $9 to $14

Thursday, March 9
5 p.m., The Essential Link: The Story of Wilfrid Israel, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $6
7:30 p.m., One Week and a Day (Shavua Ve Yom), The MATCH, 3400 Main, $9 to $14

Friday, March 10
1 p.m., On the Map, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $9 to $14 (includes film and Shabbat lunch at noon; for ages 60 and older)

Saturday, March 11
6 p.m., Beyond the Mountains and Hills (Me’ever Laharim Vehagvaot), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, $8 to $10
8 p.m., Past Life, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, $8 to $10

Sunday, March 12
1 p.m., Fanny's Journey (Le Voyage de Fanny), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, $8 to $10
3 p.m., Presenting Princess Shaw, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, $8 to $10
5 p.m., For the Love of Spock, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $9 to $14 (free admission for those dressed as a Star Trek character)
7:30 p.m., Our Father, The MATCH, 3400 Main, $9 to $14

Monday, March 13
7:30 p.m., The Women's Balcony, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $9 to $14 (dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m.; RSVP by March 9 to jross@erjcchouston.org or 713-551-7215)

The People vs. Fritz Bauer has two screenings at Holocaust Museum Houston on March 14. This biopic has been compared to Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies and earned Germany's top prizes for best film, screenplay, supporting actor and set design.
The People vs. Fritz Bauer has two screenings at Holocaust Museum Houston on March 14. This biopic has been compared to Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies and earned Germany's top prizes for best film, screenplay, supporting actor and set design.
Still courtesy of Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston

Tuesday, March 14
5 p.m., The People vs. Fritz Bauer (Der Staat Gegen Fritz Bauer), Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline, $8 to $10
7:30 p.m., The People vs. Fritz Bauer (Der Staat Gegen Fritz Bauer), Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline, $8 to $10

Wednesday, March 15
7 p.m., At the Circus and Duck Soup, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $9 to $14 (free admission for those dressed as a Marx Brothers character)
7:30 p.m., Putzel, Landmark River Oaks Theatre, 2009 West Gray, $10 (for ages 21 to thirtysomething)

Thursday, March 16
5 p.m., Harmonia, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $6
7:30 p.m., The Settlers, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $9 to $14

Saturday, March 18
6:30 p.m., Vice Versa, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $10 to $15
8:40 p.m., A Grain of Truth, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $10 to $15

Sunday, March 19
1 p.m., Weiner, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $9 to $14
4 p.m., Life, Animated, The Emery/Weiner School, 9825 Stella Link, $10
7:30 p.m., Mr. Predictable, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, $9 to $14 (closing reception to follow)

Use Current Location

Related Locations

miles
Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center

5601 S. Braeswood
Houston, Texas 77096

713-729-3200

erjcchouston.org

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Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - Brown Auditorium Theater

1001 Bissonnet
Houston, TX 77005

713-639-7515

mfah.org/films

miles
Holocaust Museum Houston

5401 Caroline
Houston, TX 77004

713-942-8000

www.hmh.org

miles
The MATCH

3400 Main
Houston, Texas 77002

matchouston.org

miles
Landmark River Oaks Theatre

2009 W. Gray St.
Houston, TX 77019

713-524-2175

landmarktheatres.com


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