Houston Jewish Film Festival

This year’s Houston Jewish Film Festival kicks off with Kaddish for a Friend. Director Leo Khasin pits Alexander, an 84-year-old Jewish man determined to maintain his independence rather than be sent to a nursing home, against a Palestinian teen named Ali who vandalizes his apartment and destroys many of the man’s possessions on a dare. Desperate to avoid deportation, Ali’s family forces him to repair the damage he has done under Alexander’s hostile eye. The two barely constrain their contempt for each other, but slowly come to an understanding and eventually a friendship. The film is a metaphor for the search for peace between Jews and Arabs, but manages to remain intensely personal, as each player finds virtue in his traditional enemy, and fault in his own rage.

A collaboration of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Holocaust Museum, the festival’s opening weekend also includes Deaf Jam, the story of a deaf Israeli teen who performs poetry slams using sign language, and episodes of Larry David’s critically acclaimed comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm. And there’s plenty more on the roster after that, too.

See Kaddish for a Friend at 7:30 p.m. today and 1 p.m. Friday. Screenings continue through March 18. Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood. For a full schedule, call 713-729-3200 or visit www.erjcchouston.org. Free to $10.
Thu., March 1, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., March 2, 1 p.m., 2012

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