Cinema Judaica II

Est. 2016, Cinema Judaica is a  film series exploring Jewish life, culture, and politics in cinema, hosted by the Art Theater and the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation.

For CINEMA JUDAICA II, our second series of films, we’ve had to contend with a dramatically changed world. A film about a Hungarian right-wing extremist becoming an observant Jew (KEEP QUIET) plays differently in the current era of US power, as does Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 WWII screwball satire TO BE OR NOT TO BE, and Maria Schrader’s beautiful intellectual portrait of Jewish writer Stefan Zweig’s exile years with STEFAN ZWEIG: FAREWELL TO EUROPE. But our focus is always on the art and creativity of survival, both with the aforementioned films, and the remaining two: the spellbinding dance documentary MR. GAGA, about Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, and Asoph Polonsky’s black comedy portrait of grieving parents in ONE WEEK AND A DAY. Through all of these films, we find ourselves confronting serious issues creatively, with humor and passion and moral vision. (Austin McCann)

Tickets and admission: Tickets are $10 for all screenings are now available online and at the theater.

The festival is sponsored by the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation and supported by the Dr. Samuel and Sadie Small Fund for Jewish Arts and Culture of the CU Jewish Endowment Foundation. Special thanks to: Carl & Carol Belber, Sanford Hess, and Bernice & Laurence Lieberman.

Mr Gaga L

Mr. Gaga

NR, 101 minutes

Enter the world of Ohad Naharin, renowned choreographer and artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company, and creator of an innovative and exciting movement language known as Gaga. Eight years in the making, this high-energy documentary immerses the audience in the creative process behind Batsheva’s unique performances. Using intimate rehearsal footage, extensive unseen archival materials, and stunning dance sequences, acclaimed director Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, The Queen Has No Crown) tells the fascinating story of an artistic genius who redefined the language of modern dance. (2016, Tomer Heymann, US/Israel, 100 min, NR, DCP, English/Hebrew with English subtitles)

“A superb dance documentary in its almost single-minded focus on process.”

“Interweaves archival film with contemporary material to masterfully portray one of the most vital dance artists of the past half-century.” -Village Voice

Stefan Zweig L Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe

NR, 106 minutes

Austrian-Jewish writer Stefan Zweig is one of the most widely read German-language authors when the Nazis’ rise to power forces him into exile. His books are quickly banned in Germany, and soon in Austria as well. STEFAN ZWEIG: FAREWELL TO EUROPE episodically tells the story of Zweig while in exile from 1936 to 1942. Zweig and his wife find themselves in the Americas, traveling from Buenos Aires to New York to Brazil, struggling to find the right response to the rise of the Nazis’ at home and to find a home for themselves in the new world. Despite the warm acceptance and an overwhelmingly beautiful tropical setting, Zweig remains uneasy and restless. This is the story of a refugee, of the loss of the old and the search for a new home in a time when all of Europe was fleeing. (2016, Maria Schrader, Germany/France/Austria, NR, 106 min, DCP, Eng subs)

Post-show discussion feat. Nancy Blake (UIUC Comparative & World Literature)

One Week Day L

One Week and a Day

NR, 97 minutes

“Wry, irreverant, rueful, silly, and stunningly cathartic” (Film Comment), ONE WEEK AND A DAY is Asoph Polonsky’s comedy/drama about Eyal and Vicky, two parents, after their week sitting shiva after the death of their 25-year-old son. While Vicky returns to teaching, Eyal steals his dead son’s medical marijuana and proceeds to get high. As the world refuses to accommodate their sensitivities during their time of bereavement, the two grieving parents find themselves acting in outlandish ways as they attempt to regain a sense of control over their lives. Winner of eight awards at the Jerusalem Film Festival, including Best First Film and Best Israeli Feature. (2017, Asoph Polonsky, Israel, 95 min, NR, DCP, English subtitles)

“An incredibly tactful tragicomedy from debut writer/director Asaph Polonsky.”


Keep Quiet

Nr, 90 minutes

As vice-president of Hungary’s far-right extremist party, Csanad Szegedi espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denials, and founded the Hungarian Guard, a now-banned militia inspired by a pro-Nazi group complicit in the murder of thousands of Jews during WWII. But his life was soon upended when Szegedi’s maternal grandparents were revealed to be Jewish and his beloved grandmother an Auschwitz survivor who had hidden her faith, fearing further persecution. Keep Quiet depicts Szegedi’s three-year journey to embrace his newfound religion. But is his transformation genuine? Or does he simply have nowhere else to turn? (2017, Sam Blair & Joseph Martin, UK/Hungary, 90 min, NR, DCP, Eng subs)

“A superb piece of non­fiction filmmaking, telling a story of import with grace and intelligence.” -Jewish Week

Post-show discussion feat. Mikhail Lyubansky (CU Restorative Circles)

To Be Or Not To Be L

To Be Or Not To Be

NR, 99 minutes

As nervy as it is hilarious, this screwball masterpiece from Ernst Lubitsch stars Jack Benny and, in her final screen appearance, Carole Lombard as husband-and-wife thespians in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who become caught up in a dangerous spy plot. TO BE OR NOT TO BE is a Hollywood film of the boldest black humor, which went into production soon after the U.S. entered World War II. Lubitsch manages to brilliantly balance political satire, romance, slapstick, and urgent wartime suspense in a comic high-wire act that has never been equaled. (1942, Ernst Lubitsch, US, 99 min, NR)

Post-show discussion feat. Brett Kaplan (UIUC Jewish Studies / Comparative & World Literature)

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