Cinema Judaica 2016

Founded in 2016, Cinema Judaica is a new film series exploring Jewish life, culture, and politics in cinema, hosted by the Art Theater Co-op.

Our program presents an aesthetically and thematically diverse line-up of Jewish cinema, new and old. We see cinema as an art form that allows us to explore questions in-depth, such as: What does it mean to be a Jew? When is a film a “Jewish film”? How is this festival different from all other Jewish film festivals? And, after Chico Marx, why a duck?

The festival is presented 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, Natalie Frankenberg, Sanford Hess, Bernice & Laurence Lieberman, and Nancy & Ed Tepper.

Tickets and admission: Tickets for all screenings are now available online and at the theater. Individual tickets are $10 per screening, except for Don Bluth’s An American Tail ($5 for adults & children). Passes are available for $42 each, which gives one free admission to every screening.

Note: Buying a pass does not guarantee admission. Passholders must still obtain (a free) ticket for each screening either through our website or in person at the theater.


Zero Motivation L

Winner, (6) Israeli Film Academy Awards (Best Director, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Casting, Best Music)
Winner, Best Narrative Feature Award – Tribeca Film Festival
Winner, Nora Ephron Prize (Director, Talya Lavie) – Tribeca Film Festival

NR, 90 minutes

Talya Lavie’s award-winning debut feature Zero Motivation is a unique, sharply observed, dark and often hilarious portrait of everyday life for a unit of young, female soldiers in a remote Israeli desert outpost. Playing out like M*A*S*H meets Orange is the New Black, Talya Lavie’s brilliant debut details the power struggles of three women with different agendas and very little to do. Pencil-pushers in the Human Resources Office, best friends Zohar and Daffi spend their time playing video games, singing pop songs, jousting with stationery and dreaming of Tel Aviv. The indolent twosome are watched over by their aspiring senior officer, Rama, who dreams of a higher position and a significant military career, but with a platoon of unskilled, idle, female soldiers without any drive under her charge, her ambitions for promotion are constantly thwarted. With shifts of tone that go from slapstick to satiric to horrifying with fluid ease, and with a superb supporting cast of characters. (2014, Talya Lavie, DCP, Hebrew with English subtitles)


Rabin Last Day L

Winner, Golden Mouse – Venice Film Festival
Winner, Human Rights Award – Venice Film Festival
Winner, Special Jury Award – Seville International Film Festival

NR, 150 minutes

On the evening of November 4, 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot down at the end of a huge political rally in Tel Aviv. The killer apprehended at the scene turned out to be a 25-year-old student and observant Jew. Investigation into this brutal murder reveals a dark and frightening world—a subculture of hate fueled by hysterical rhetoric, paranoia, and political intrigue, made up of extremist rabbis who condemned Rabin by invoking an obscure Talmudic ruling, prominent right-wing politicians who joined in a campaign of incitement against Rabin, militant Israeli settlers for whom peace meant betrayal, and the security agents who saw what was coming and failed to prevent it. Twenty years after the death of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, acclaimed filmmaker Amos Gitai sheds light on an ever-growing crisis of the impunity of hate crimes in Israel today with this thought-provoking political thriller, which masterfully combines dramatized scenes with actual news footage of the shooting and its aftermath. (2015, Amos Gitai, DCP, Hebrew with English subtitles)


American Tail L

PG, 80 minutes

This beautifully animated film tells the story of Fievel Mouskewitz and his family of Jewish mice who escape from Russia in the late 1800s and immigrate to the United States in search of freedom. However, upon his arrival in New York City, Fievel is separated from his parents and sister and soon discovers that contrary to what he was told, there are in fact cats in America. The stunning, painterly images of New York City before the turn of the last century are striking. An American Tail combines multifaceted timeless animation with a story that is very close to every American’s heart: immigrants trying to succeed despite the many hardships and obstacles. Featuring Dom DeLuise as Tiger, a cowardly orange cat who also happens to be vegetarian and Christopher Plummer as Henri, a pigeon of French descent who is in New York building the Statue of Liberty. Papa Mouskewitz is played by Nehemiah Persoff, an actor who was chosen primarily because of his similar role as Barbra Streisand’s father in Yentl. The film includes the song “Somewhere Out There” which received an Academy Award nomination and won two Grammys. At the time of its release in 1986, An American Tail was the most successful non-Disney animated feature and continues to entertain audiences of all ages. (1986, Don Bluth, DCP)


Great Dictator L

G, 120 minutes

In his controversial masterpiece THE GREAT DICTATOR Charlie Chaplin offers both a cutting caricature of Adolf Hitler and a sly tweaking of his own comic persona. Chaplin, in his first pure talkie, brings his sublime physicality to two roles: the cruel yet clownish “Tomainian” dictator and the kindly Jewish barber who is mistaken for him. Featuring Jack Oakie and Paulette Goddard in stellar supporting turns, The Great Dictator, boldly going after the fascist leader before the U.S.’s official entry into World War II, is an audacious amalgam of politics and slapstick that culminates in Chaplin’s famously impassioned speech. (1940, Charles Chaplin)

“It is a funny film, which we expect from Chaplin, and a brave one.” – Roger Ebert


Tikkun L

Winner, Best Actor – Jerusalem Film Festival
Winner, Best Israeli Feature – Jerusalem Film Festival
Winner, Don Quixote Award – Locarno Film Festival
Winner, Special Jury Prize – Locarno Film Festival

NR, 120 minutes

In Avishai Sivan’s intense and provocative TIKKUN, a prizewinner at the Jerusalem and Locarno Film Festivals, an ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva student experiences a crisis of faith—and visions of earthly delights—when his father brings him back from the brink of death. Was the young man’s improbable survival a violation of God’s will, or was it “tikkun,” a way toward enlightenment and redemption? Sivan imbues the narrative with an indeterminate, hypnotic blend of black comedy and alienated modernism, effecting a singularly uncanny atmosphere. Nonprofessional actor Aharon Traitel, himself a former Hasidic Jew, gives a nuanced, knowing performance as the anguished prodigy, and the black-and-white chiaroscuro photography casts the devoutly private, regimented Hasidic community of old Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim in a morally shaded light. (2016, Avishai Sivan, DCP, Hebrew & Yiddish with English subtitles)

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