23rd Annual Berkshire Jewish Film Festival

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. - The 23rd annual Berkshire Jewish Film Festival of Congregation Knesset Israel will be presented on Mondays  from July 6 through August 10 in the Duffin Theater at Lenox Memorial High School, 197 East Street in Lenox. “We are delighted to present another summer series of exciting films for the Berkshire Jewish Film Festival in 2009 “ said Ed Udel, festival chairman. Matinee films will start at 4 pm and evening presentations at 8 pm and are open to the public.

The series opens on July 6 with “Waves of Freedom” at 4 pm. This film unfolds the fascinating story of American volunteers recruited by the United States in 1947 to transport 2000 displaced persons to Palestine. Their dilapidated ship barely escapes British destroyers before delivering its human cargo to Haifa and the crew ending up in a Cyprus Internment Camp.

At 8 pm “The Little Traitor” featuring Alfred Molina, is based on the novel “Panther in the Basement” by Amos Oz. An 11 year old, Proffy Liebowitz, and his friends plot to terrorize the occupying British in 1947 Palestine. While out after curfew Proffy is seized by a British officer. Instead of arrest the officer  returns him to his home. Eventually a friendship develops between these two adversaries.

On July 13 “Gilad Shalit - Years in Captivity” is a documentary which examines and tries to make sense out of the events following the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit during the invasion into Lebanon in 2006. Testimonies of negotiators, politicians, and terror experts expose a series of mistakes and missed opportunities.

“Waltz with Bashir” at 8 pm was voted Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globe Awards and was a nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. This animated documentary by writer-director Ari Folman searches to reconstruct what he and his comrades experienced in the early 1980’s during the first Lebanon War. The hallucinations and surrealism of war are depicted in a combination of flash and classical film techniques together with 3-D animation.

“Boynton Beach Club” on July 20 is a romantic comedy about the human capacity to fall in love at any age and a reminder that life is worth living and sharing. Florence Seidelman, story creator and producer, will appear in person.

The evening presentation at 8 pm will be “Eichmann” based on the final confession of Adolf Eichmann before his execution in Israel. Captain Avner Less (Troy Garity), a young Israeli police officer confronts  the world’s most wanted man in a battle of wills, the result of which will change a nation forever.

On July 27 “Refusnik” is the first retrospective documentary to chronicle the thirty-year movement to free Soviet Jews. Told by activists on both sides of the Iron Curtain the film is a tapestry of first-person accounts of heroism, sacrifice, and ultimately liberation.

A sparkling cast including Lainie Kazan, Seymour Cassel, and Willie Garson provide a continuous laugh in “Beau Jest” on July 27 at 8 pm. In this romantic comedy adult children contrast their own true feelings against their desire to please their parents.

“Max Minsky and Me” on August 3 at 4 pm is a coming-of-age story based on the novel “Prince William, Maximillian Minsky and Me” which received the German Award for Young Peoples Literature in 2003. Nelly Sue Edelmeister is a 13 year old fascinated by the mysteries of the cosmos. The distraction of her divorcing American Jewish mother and German Christian father and a chance to meet astronomy fan Prince Edouard of Luxemboug provide conflicts with her Bat Mitzvah studies.

At 8 pm “Good” tells the story of a German professor (played by Viggo Mortenson) who writes a best-seller about euthanasia. When the Nazis champion the book, twisting its otherwise benign ideas, the professor faces a wrenching moral dilemma.

The final presentations of the Berkshire Jewish Film Festival on August 10 include “Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh” at 4 pm and “Noodle” at 8 pm. Hannah Senesh was a Hungarian who parachuted into Nazi occupied Europe to help save Hungary’s Jews, only to be imprisoned alongside the person she most wanted to save – her mother Catherine. The film includes Hannah and Catherine’s writings and over 1300 photographs never seen before.

“Noodle” portrays the remarkable adventures of two unlikely companions. Mir, a 37 year old twice widowed El Al flight attendant, agrees to watch the six year old Chinese speaking son of her housekeeper for an hour. The boy’s mother disappears. Barriers of language and a scheme of international proportions reunite mother and son. “Noodle” was the winner of Best Feature Film at the Boston Jewish Film Festival.

The Berkshire Jewish Film Festival is generously supported in part by a grant from the Jewish Arts and Culture Initiative of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and Greylock Federal Credit Union.

All seating is general admission, $10 evenings and $5 matinees. Season tickets for 12 admissions are $75 and may be shared by one or more individuals. For information call 413-445-4872, ext 25 or visit www.knessetisrael.org.
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