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Lights, camera, action! Jewish Film Festival comes to The Nick

The 18th annual Jewish Film Festival runs through Oct. 28 at The Nickelodeon.
The 18th annual Jewish Film Festival runs through Oct. 28 at The Nickelodeon. Getty Images

A taste of Hollywood comes to Columbia this month.

The Nickelodeon, in partnership with the Katie & Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Center in Columbia will host the 18th annual Jewish Film Festival. This multi-week event kicked off Oct. 7 and will continue through Oct. 28, treating patrons to world cinema that promotes awareness, appreciation and pride in the diversity of the Jewish experience.

“Our goal is to provide some telling and provocative content that will expose people to a new point of view,” said Patty Tucker, vice president of programs at the Jewish Community Center in Columbia. “These films take you to places you wouldn’t normally get to visit. They are extraordinary, with universal themes and you get to see the world through another’s eyes.”

The film series includes comedies, documentaries and thrillers. Each film is aimed to educate, entertain, and remind us that we are not that different from one another, Tucker said.

“I think in today’s world and the state of our country, it’s important that we remember that we are all more alike than we realize,” she said. Tucker works alongside festival co-chairwoman Ruth Rast on the event.

The Jewish Film Festival started 18 years ago with a variety of films that highlighted the human condition through Jewish characters and culture. Today, the festival has transformed into a full-fledged event filled with guest speakers, and films from all over the world, including South Africa, Israel, China, Poland, Germany and India. The event also gives guests a chance to come together and socialize.

“When the The Nickelodeon approached us (the Jewish Community Center) 18 years ago about doing this event, we showed a few movies. Now we serve wine and cheese after each film and give people a chance to talk about what they just watched,” Tucker said.

On Oct. 14, guests will have an opportunity to hear from two guest speakers about the topic of refugees in the Carolinas. Bedrija Jazic, director of the Refugee and Immigrant Services at Lutheran Services Carolinas, and John Kassel, a lawyer with the Kassel McVey Law Firm in Columbia, will introduce the film, “Above The Drowning Sea.” Jazic and Kassel, whose parents were Holocaust survivors and immigrated to China, will discuss human rights issues refugees face today.

Tickets cost $9 to $11 and can be purchased individually for each film in advance www.nickelodeon.org. The Nickelodeon is located at 1607 Main St. in Columbia.

The Jewish Film Festival kicked off Oct. 7 with a Las Vegas style cabaret dinner and a viewing of the film, “Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me.” The festival continued with “Bye Bye Germany,” a comedy directed by Sam Garbarski, on Oct. 9.

Get ready to mark your calendars. Here is a list of upcoming films:

‘Shelter’

When: 3 p.m. Oct. 14

Genre: Thriller

Director: Eran Riklis

Mossad agent Naomi (Riskin) is called back from sick leave, assigned a new identity and given a “babysitting” job. Her orders take her to Germany to protect Mona (Farahani), a Lebanese informant, who is recovering from plastic surgery. Naomi learns that Mona is close to a top Hezbollah leader, who is dead-set on revenge. During their time together the women form an unexpected bond as their fates take an surprising turn. Not rated.

‘Above The Drowning Sea’

When: 5 p.m. Oct. 14

Genre: Documentary

Director: Rene Balcer and Nicola Zavaglia

Narrated by: Julianna Margulies

The film is about Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe who, at a time when doors were closed to them, were able to find sanctuary in Shanghai. Chinese diplomat Ho Feng Shan, Chinese consul in Vienna, defied the Nazis and his own government by issuing travel visas to the desperate refugees. Told from the point of view of the refugees and the Chinese people who sheltered them. Not rated.

The film will be introduced by Bedrija Jazic, director of the Refugee and Immigrant Services at Lutheran Services Carolinas and John Kassel, practicing lawyer in Columbia at Kassel McVey Law Firm.

‘An Act of Defiance’

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 16

Genre: Biography

Director: Jean Van De Velde

Starring: Peter Paul Muller

Nelson Mandela and his inner circle of Black and Jewish supporters face a death sentence for conspiracy to commit sabotage after they are arrested by the apartheid South African government. Bram Fischer (Muller), a sympathetic lawyer, risks his career and freedom to defend the men, attempting to hide the fact that, he too, frequently convened on the farm where they were arrested. Not rated.

‘The Last Suit’

When: 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21

Genre: Drama

Director: Pablo Solarz

Starring: Miguel Angel Sola, Angela Molina, Natalia Verbeke

Abraham Bursztein (Sola), an 88 year-old Jewish tailor, suddenly decides to leave Buenos Aires to go to Poland, to deliver a suit to a childhood friend who saved his life at the end of World War II. As he travels back to Germany, Abraham slowly comes to face a lifetime of choices often made in anger, leading to an emotional reckoning with his past in this funny and deeply tender new film. Not rated.

‘Scandal in Ivansk’

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 23

Genre: Documentary

Director: Ami Drozd and David Blumenfeld

In the small Polish town of Ivansk, one word ignites a nationwide controversy. Most of Ivansk’s Jews were killed by the Nazis and the headstones in the Jewish cemetery were plundered for construction purposes. A group of descendants of Ivansk Jews restores the town’s cemetery, retrieving what headstones they can. When they commission a plaque that includes the word “collaborator,” a national scandal is unleashed. This documentary strives to understand why much of the nation won’t accept “collaborator” to describe Polish people who aided the Nazis and benefited from the genocide of Jews. Not rated.

‘Shalom Bollywood: The Untold Story of Indian Cinema’

When: 3 p.m. Oct. 28

Director: Danny Ben-Moshe

Genre: Documentary

When the world’s largest film industry began, it was frowned upon for Hindu and Muslim women to appear on screen. So their roles were played by India’s Jewish community, Baghdadi and Bene Israel descendants that faced no taboos about performing in public. From the silent era through Bollywood’s golden age, Indian cinema icons share their highs and lows and how their careers pushed the boundaries of Indian-Jewish culture. Not rated.

If you go

The 18th annual Jewish Film Festival

When: Through Oct. 28

Where: The Nickelodeon, 1607 Main St., Columbia.

Admission: Tickets cost between $9 and $11 and can be purchased individually for each film online at www.nickelodeon.org.

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