Sunday 29 September 2019

Jewish International Film Festival - 3 Films of interest to students of the history of the cinema

The JIFF is going on in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth. For details of films, session times and tickets click here for the festival website. The information below is taken from the website

Carl Laemmle (James L. Freedman USA, 2019, 91 MIN)  
“A heartfelt tribute to one of the great Jews of early Hollywood.” — Atlanta Jewish Times

A German Jewish immigrant, Carl Laemmle (left) was one of the great creative minds behind the modern motion picture business. After creating Universal Pictures in 1912, Laemmle would go on to give many Hollywood legends their starts, including Walt Disney, John Ford and Irving Thalberg. He also hired many female directors and made Lois Weber the highest paid director on his lot. Under Laemmle’s leadership, Universal would become known for its classic monster movies, mostly notably The Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein and Dracula. After selling the studio in 1936, Laemmle would go on battle Adolf Hitler’s government and a notoriously anti-Semitic U.S. State Department, and ultimately rescue over 300 Jewish refugee families from Nazi Germany. 

Curtiz (Tamas Yvan Topolanszky, HUNGARY, 2019, 98 MIN)
 “Bound to make cinephiles everywhere very happy... very sophisticated.” 
— Cineuropa 

It’s 1942 and America is on the brink of war. Facing government pressure, Jewish Hungarian-born lm director Michael Curtiz is given the opportunity to direct a new propaganda film,Casablanca. However, Curtiz’s focus is pulled in every direction as he contends with his estranged daughter to help his sister flee Nazi oppression, and the decision of what his protagonist Rick should choose in the end of the lm. Shot in stylish black-and-white, Curtiz recreates the Hungarian auteur’s struggle and sacrifice as he produces the masterpiece that went on to win the 1944 Best Film and Director Academy Awards. 

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (Rob Garver USA, 2018, 95 MIN)  
“An exquisitely crafted documentary about the woman who was arguably the greatest movie critic who ever lived.” 
— Variety 

Pauline Kael is among the most famous and divisive lm critics of all time, and a key figure in the world of 20th century cinema. Her praise helped uplift the careers of Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and others, while her put downs left lasting wounds that reverberated around the world. Kael was a pioneering Jewish woman full of intellectual verve in a male chauvinistic environment. Her words could launch a career and mobilise audiences. This nuanced portrait captures her complexity while revisiting late-twentieth-century cinema through her lens, using a myriad of film clips, never-before-seen archival footage, wide-ranging interviews and Kael’s  writings voiced by Sarah Jessica Parker. 

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