Over more than 2,000 years, Jewish storytelling has come to tell the stories of people from all over the world, and in all walks of life. And this diversity of voices is vibrantly reflected in the films shown as part of the 24th annual Denver Jewish Film Festival.
“We look for a combination of films that are undeniably enjoyable, no matter who our patrons are,” said Amy Weiner Weiss, director of festivals at the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center, including the film festival. “We like to present things people might not expect at a Jewish film festival, while still sharing rich, Jewish content and representing our values.”
This year’s Denver Jewish Film Festival presented by Sturm Family Foundation runs at the Elaine Wolf Theatre at the JCC, 350 S. Dahlia St. in Denver, runs from Wednesday, Feb. 5 through Wednesday, Feb. 19. The festival features 43 films, both feature-length and short, with numerous regional premieres.
“We have two different volunteer committees that work on deciding which films should be shown. Our selection committee of 11 people watched more than 500 minutes of film every two weeks from May through October to narrow down all the submissions,” Weiner Weiss said. “The films we have this year are some of the strongest we’ve ever had in the festival.”
This year’s lineup includes films from 12 countries and tell a huge swath of stories. There are biographical films on well-known figures like “Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People” and “King Bibi,” a World War II spy story (“The Spy Behind Home Plate”), satires of current events (“Tel Aviv on Fire”) and “Sustainable Nation,” which examines efforts to bring water solutions to areas facing drought.
A pair of personal recommendations are “The Keeper” and “Standing Up, Falling Down.” “The Keeper” is a true story about Bert Trautmann, legendary goalkeeper for Manchester City. The film is a powerful account of redemption after World War II, as well as a love story that reminds viewers of how much is possible if one has love in their life. And “Standing Up, Falling Down,” is a hilarious and nuanced buddy dramedy starring Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz.
As is often the case with film festivals, one of the real treats is attending the various filmmaker and expert discussions and events following screenings. A particular highlight will be at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16, with the premiere of “Keh Hee Lah,” which was made by University of Denver student Myles Goldstein and features a roundtable of local Jewish leaders.
Ultimately, it’s that community-building and connection that is the primary goal of the festival.
“You don’t have to be Jewish to attend. The festival is such a great opportunity for us to open our doors and arms to each other, and support each other,” Weiner Weiss said. “The films speak to all difference experiences, and all attendees will be able to enjoy and share in our common humanity.”
To purchase individual tickets, multiple-film packages and more information, visit www.jccdenver.org/denver-arts-and-culture/denver-jewish-film-festival.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week - Lupe Fiasco at Summit
Lupe Fiasco’s early records are classics of fast-talking, erudite underground rap. He’s been making music for more than a decade, and still maintains a vigorous touring schedule.
If you’re interested in catching one of the most interesting voices of 2000’s rap, catch him at the Summit, 1902 Blake St. in Denver, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8.
For information and tickets, visit www.summitdenver.com.
Denver Film celebrates cinema’s biggest night
I tend to use awards season the same way I use all the year’s best lists every December - as a recommendation list for art that I might’ve missed during the year, rather than the actual best. But for those who love the pageantry of the Academy Awards and see every best picture nominee, Denver Film has the best watch-party around.
The free Brightest Night in Hollywood event begins at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9 at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver. The Oscars red carpet will begin at 4:30 p.m., with the ceremony kicking off at 6 p.m.
There will be food, cocktails, prizes and more. Details can be found at www.denverfilm.org.
Honor 100 years of women’s suffrage
To mark the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment - which granted American women the right vote — the Arvada Center is kicking off its new historical series, “On Their Shoulders We Stand: 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage in the United States,” from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13.
The Centennial Kickoff Celebration — marking the 100th anniversary of the creation of the League of Women Voters — is held in the center’s, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Main Gallery and History Museum. It will feature cocktails, light appetizers, suffragette rose ribbon and button making, and music.
The rest of the nonpartisan series, presented in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County and Regis University, will stretch out over several months, an include art exhibits, theatrical discussions and history and sociological lectures.
The event is free, but reservations are recommended, and can be made at www.arvadacenter.org/pages/centennial-kickoff-celebration.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.
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