Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Film festival to show Jewish jewels

Three films are gifts to audiences

Express Staff Writer

    There’s one thing you can count on in this town: The more simplified the description of an event, the more magical it will be.
    The latest example comes in the form of the Wood River Jewish Film Festival, which is debuting with three films to be shown for free on consecutive Mondays, July 8, 15 and 22, at the Community Library.
    On its face, it could be dismissed as another special-interest event, but the trailers of these three films reveal a slice of life, by, or about, little-known people and pastimes among the Jewish community.
    If you like to laugh, cry, be enlightened or merely entertained—or are just interested in Jewish culture—this mini-festival is worth viewing.
    “The Jewish culture is the oldest in the world,” said festival chair Linda Cooper, who served on a committee for a long-standing festival in San Diego, Calif., for many years. “The films that are being shown celebrate the rich tapestry of Jewish life. Each film has won numerous audiences and festival film awards.”
    Starting at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 8, is “AKA Doc Pomus.”
    If you’ve ever listened to “This Magic Moment,” or “Save the Last Dance for Me,” and wondered about the large life behind the lyrics, most will be surprised to learn of the somewhat limited life behind the music.  
    Jerome Felder was born in Brooklyn and paralyzed with polio as a child. He turned the crutches into a catapult to fame, emerging as one of the most brilliant songwriters of the early rock-and-roll era.
    The film chronicles the life of the legendary songwriter. “AKA Doc Pomus” features interviews with his many collaborators and friends, including Lou Reed, a close friend who reads passages from his cohort’s fascinating private journals.
    “A Matter of Size,” will be screened Monday, July 15. This funny, inspiring film relates the story of four overweight friends from the Israeli city of Ramle who are fed up of dieting and the weight loss club they belong to.
    Herzl (Itzik Cohen) has been struggling with his weight ever since he was young, and his overbearing mother made it no easier on him. When he loses his job as a cook and starts washing dishes in a Japanese restaurant, Herzl discovers the world of Sumo, which honors his girth.
    His new job puts him under restaurant owner Kitano (Togo Igawa), a former Japanese Sumo coach. Herzl and his friends fall in love with a sport involving “two fatsos in diapers and girly hairdos.”
    And on Monday, July 22, it’s “Orchestra of Exiles,” which retraces the journey of renowned violinist Bronislaw Huberman’s heroic feat of organizing an orchestra outside of the genocidal scourge of the Nazis.
    Cooper encourages people to arrive early—wine and the films should stimulate good chatting.
    “I grew up fascinated by the Jewish culture and I wanted everyone to benefit from that fascination,” Cooper said. “That’s why we are charging no admission, so that everyone can see it.”
    The public can expect more films in the future.
    “Sun Valley is such an athletic community and everyone is so busy during the day, we wanted to start small,” she said. “But our adrenaline is soaring over this opportunity.”

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