Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The real backstories

Jewish Film Fest brings award-winning tales to screen

Express Staff Writer

A scene from the opening film for this year’s Jewish Film Festival, “Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story.”
Courtesy photo

    “In June 1940, when Nazi troops invaded France, an amazing rescue operation sprang into being. One man, on his own, defying the direct orders of his government, chose to grant visas out of Occupied France to an estimated 30,000 refugees including around 10,000 Jews. This remarkable true story has been described by historians as “the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.”  The man was Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux.”
    This synopsis is from the film “Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story,” which will open the 2014 Jewish Film Fest, presented for the second year by the Wood River Jewish Community. The film will play Monday, July 7, at the Community School Theater in Sun Valley at 6 p.m. Admission is free.
    On Monday, July 14, “Six Days in June” will play at 6 p.m. at the Community School Theater.’s synopsis is this: “The shooting lasted on six tense days in June 1967, but the Six Day War has never really ended. Every crisis that has ripped through this region in the ensuing decades stems from those six fateful days. On its 40th anniversary, the region remains trapped in conflict and is every bit as explosive as it was in 1967.
    “’Six Days’ chronicles the events of 40 years ago with a fresh historical perspective. Beginning with the buildup for the war, and the political and military maneuvering of Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and Egyptian President Jame Adel Nasser, the film takes us through the six days of fighting, the war with Jordan, the occupation of the West Bank and the annexation of Jerusalem. Featuring stunning archival footage and first-hand accounts of the war from both the Israeli and Arab soldiers who fought it, ‘Six Days’ explores how these events became the flashpoint in history that reshaped the regional political landscape, destroyed old systems and brought new forces to the surface. Rarely in modern times has so short and localized a conflict had such profound global consequences.”
    The festival closes Wednesday, July 16, with “The Real Inglorious Bastards.” The synopsis from says: “During World War II, the U.S. government’s newly formed Office of Strategic Services trained thousands of men and launched hundreds of undercover missions. ‘The Real Inglorious Bastards’ recounts the thrilling story of one of the most successful of these missions—Operation Greenup, comprised of two young Jewish refugees and one Wehrmacht officer. Three unlikely brothers-in-arms parachute one perilous winter night into the Austrian Alps, risking their lives to strike back at Nazi Germany.”
    Linda Cooper, the event chair, said last year’s films were shown at The Community Library and that they turned away at least 50 people for each film, which prompted the venue change to the Community School.
    Cooper used to be on a similar film committee in San Diego, and after being a resident of the valley for 30 years, she decided the area could use an introduction to the Jewish culture.
    “I thought, ‘Why not here—we have a small but thriving Jewish community here,’” she said of her plan’s seeds. When they discovered “a third of our audience is not even Jewish and they raved about the films,” she knew it was an idea to plant.
    Cooper is on the selection committee and said they reviewed the best of the award-winning films from the recent years and choose three from that batch.
    “We just felt that it was a wonderful way to show the richness of the Jewish experience and culture, but not in a political tone.”
    After the opening film, “Disobedience,” the grandson of one of the visa recipients the film explores will be on hand for a question-and-answer session.
     “‘Six Days’ is a very ‘David and Goliath,’ story, very exciting,” Cooper says.
    The third, “The Real Inglorious Bastards,” is “the true story, not the Brad Pitt story,” she said. “It’s a fascinating story, so poignant and exciting. These men are role models.”
    Cooper says anyone who enjoys a well-told story should attend.
    “People should come to be excited and entertained, to learn about the rich tapestry of the Jewish experience, which flows over to the human experience, with its own little special touch.”
    For more information, contact founder and chair Cooper at 726-4683 or at the Wood River Jewish Community office at 726-1183.

Jewish Film Festival
What: Jewish Film Fest. Shown in this order will be: “Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story,” “Six Days in June” and “The Real Inglorious Bastards.”
Where: The Community School Theater, Sun Valley.
When: Monday, July 7, Monday, July 14, and Wednesday, July 16. 6 p.m.
Cost: Free.


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