2016 Special Events

Opening Event: Zemene

THURSDAY, MAY 19
Jewish Community Center
7:00 p.m.

Join us as we open our 22nd season with Zemene, a heart-warming, humbling, must-see documentary that highlights tikkun olam (“repairing the world”) in action. Through sheer happenstance, 10-year-old Zemene, a sickly, severely crippled child in the Ethiopian countryside, meets Dr. Rick Hodes, an American internist (and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)’s Medical Director of Ethiopia) living in Addis Ababa and specializing in spinal conditions. Zemene’s indomitable spirit and Rick’s determination to give the child a chance at a better life mark a five-year journey that results not just in a successful surgery for the child, but an opening of her world through education, and her return to her rural village with a mission of improving the lives of her entire community.

Zemene Melissa DonovanWe are delighted to welcome to our festival acclaimed filmmaker Melissa Donovan, who caught on camera the first encounter between Rick Hodes and Zemene, and devoted the next five years to chronicling Zemene’s transformation under Rick’s care. Melissa has worked in the commercial, independent and documentary worlds as a cinematographer for over 15 years. Among her credits is Director of Photography for the Peabody Award-winning documentary, Between the Folds. The multi-award-winning Zemene is her first project as Director-Producer. A reception will follow her Q&A.

The Harrisburg Jewish Film Festival thanks Gail and Conrad Siegel for their generous sponsorship of ZEMENE, Melissa Donovan’s appearance and our Opening Night reception.

For more information about the work of Rick Hodes and the JDC in Ethiopia, go to: http://rickhodes.org. For more information on how you can help Melissa Donovan and Zemene build a school and bring clean water to Zemene’s village for the first time, please go to http://zemenefilm.com/outreach.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Book Club Event: Focus

SUNDAY, MAY 22
10:00 a.m., Midtown Cinema

Acclaimed American playwright Arthur Miller wrote only one novel in his career: Focus, the story of Lawrence Newman, whose comfortable if ordinary life in Brooklyn at the height of World War II falls apart when his neighbors and work associates begin to suspect that he is Jewish. Written in 1945 in response to the anti-Semitism that Miller had observed and experienced throughout his life and which was unabated at the end of the war, the book, and the 2001 film upon which it was based, are as relevant today as they ever were. A bit of trivia: called by Vanity Fair “small and durable and rare, a tiny cinematic jewel,” the film adaptation of Focus originally was released in September, 2001, but was instantly buried in the national trauma of 9/11.

Please join us for bagels, coffee, and a screening of this powerful picture, followed by a discussion of the novel and its screen adaptation with Professor Helen Khanzhina. Focus by Arthur Miller is readily available on Amazon.com

Helen KhanzhinaAuthor and scholar Dr. Yelena (Helen) P. Khanzhina-Wexler earned her Ph.D. in World Literature from the University of St. Petersburg (Russia). Professor Khanzhina-Wexler immigrated to the United State in the 1990s, where she has continued to teach literature and writing at the university level.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

 

Guest Speaker Event: Mother, Look at Us Now.

WEDNESDAY, May 25
7:00 p.m., Midtown Cinema

Starting in 2003, filmmaker Gayle Kirschenbaum turned her camera on herself to tell the story of the tumultuous relationship she shared with an emotionally abusive mother who — among other things – had been waging an unrelenting campaign for her daughter to get a nose job since Gayle was 15. But what began as a journey of self-discovery became, over time and with the death of Gayle’s father, a shared journey toward mutual understanding. What has emerged is a poignant, courageous, even miraculous tale of transformation and acceptance; Look at Us Now, Mother! is funny, sharp and insightful – a film, said AP television writer Frazier Moore, “for anyone who has ever had a mother or ever had a nose.”

Gayle KirschenbaumGayle Kirschenbaum is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker, television producer, personality and motivational speaker living in New York City. Among her many screen credits are the 2004 HBO special, A Dog’s Life: A Dogamentary, which she wrote, produced, directed and co-starred in with her Shih Tzu, Chelsea. www.gaylekirschenbaum.com