26th Annual Louisville Jewish Film Festival Kicks Off Feb. 3

Jan 17, 2024 at 10:28 am
26th Annual Louisville Jewish Film Festival Kicks Off Feb. 3

The Trager Family Jewish Community Center will present the 26th annual Louisville Jewish Film Festival which is taking place Saturday, Feb. 3 - Sunday, Feb. 18. The festival will host 6 in-person films, 4 full-length, and 7 short virtual films as part of the series. 

The films in the festival offer a wide range of genres including comedies, dramas, documentaries and shorts of various types. Tickets for the festival start at $12 per film with live, virtual and all-inclusive screening packages available. Tickets are on sale now at jewishlouisville.org/filmfestival

The Festival Schedule is as follows (from the release): 
Opening Night

The opening night film, “Remembering Gene Wilder,” will be shown live at the Trager Family JCC in the Shapira Foundation Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 3. The film will be accompanied by an opening night Willy Wonka-themed reception at 7 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres and bar. Tickets are $22.

Shorts & Shots

A new event that will highlight this year’s film festival will be Shorts & Shots on Saturday, Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m. at Louisville Slugger Museum. The event features a customized tasting and education experience by Executive Bourbon Steward, Phil Kollin and 4 award-winning short films. Guests will also enjoy assorted cheese and crackers, bourbon balls and a souvenir gift from the Louisville Slugger Museum. Tickets are $36.

Special Event Programming Highlights

The Louisville Jewish Film Festival is pleased to present event programming to encourage conversation and engagement with the selected films.

Actor Saul Rubinek, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m. (Virtual at-home presentation)

Actor Saul Rubinek, star of the film SHTTL, will join local Louisville audiences in a virtual presentation hosted by Cantor David Lipp. Rubinek was born in a displaced-persons camp in Allied-occupied Germany in 1948. The Rubinek family emigrated to Canada the same year that he was born, and his parents encouraged him to pursue acting. Rubinek has had a successful career as an actor in well-known films and television shows including Frasier and Curb Your Enthusiasm as well as most recently in the Amazon series, Hunters

Kentucky State Senator Karen Berg, Thursday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m. (immediately following the film at Baxter Theatre)

Immediately following the film presentation of Bella at Baxter Theater, Kentucky State Senator Karen Berg will join attendees for a discussion about what it's like to be a woman today, fighting for civil rights, women's equality, LGBTQ+ rights and the road that Bella Abzug paved to get us where we are today.

Dr. Ranen Omer-Sherman and Matt Golden, Thursday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.  (immediately following the film at Baxter Theatre)

Dr. Ranen Omer-Sherman, JHF Endowed Chair in Judaic Studies at the University of Louisville, and Matt Golden, Director of Jewish Community Relations Council will lead the Checkpoint Women: Memories audience through a thoughtful discussion surrounding the film and current events in Israel.  

Director Leon Prudovsky, Saturday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. (immediately following the film)   

Director of My Neighbor Adolf, Leon Prudovsky will join the audience at the Trager Family JCC on video for a special Q&A session. Mr. Prudovsky is an Israeli screenwriter and director. He graduated from The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television (Tel Aviv University) with his short film Dark Night, which was voted finalist at the Student Academy Awards and received Special Mention at the Venice Film Festival. His feature film debut Five Hours from Paris won several international prizes, including the Best Film awards at the Haifa Film Festival and Napoli Film Festival. My Neighbor Adolf is Leon’s second feature film.

Tickets and Film Festival Packages 

Individual, student and tickets packages (including virtual passes and in-person/live passes) are available at jewishlouisville.org/filmfestival. Full festival passes, opening night reception tickets and Shorts & Shots tickets are available at the same link. All tickets go on sale on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Film Synopses – LIVE FILMS

REMEMBERING GENE WILDER – Live at Trager Family JCC, Saturday, Feb. 3, 7 p.m. (Opening Night)

Ron Frank’s affectionate biographical documentary displays the full measure of Gene Wilder’s gifts as a comedic actor of great depth, a writer, a director, and a mensch. Told in part through Wilder’s own voice, from his audiobook recording of his memoir, the film offers generous helpings of clips from across Wilder’s career – The Producers, Willy Wonka, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and more – and poignant home movies from his marriage to Gilda Radner.  San Francisco Jewish Film Festival Opening Night Film, Winner of Audience Award at Boston Jewish Film Festival, Winner of Best Documentary Feature at Philadelphia Jewish Film and Media Festival.  

 MY NEIGHBOR ADOLF – Live at Baxter Theatre, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2 p.m.

In 1960, Polsky, a lonely and grumpy Holocaust survivor, lives in the remote Colombian countryside. Just after Adolf Eichmann is captured in Argentina, a mysterious old German man moves in next door, and Polsky becomes convinced that his new neighbor is actually Adolf Hitler. In order to gather evidence against him, Polsky must befriend the man. Winner of Audience Prize at Mykolaichuk Open Audience Film Festival.  

BELLA – Live at Baxter Theatre, Thursday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m.

In 1970, Bella Abzug challenged the Washington establishment boys’ club and, with her trademark hat and Bronx swagger, entered Congress swinging, battling for credit cards for women, LGBTQ rights, and other issues of diversity, despite pressures from the left and the right, the Nixon administration, the CIA, the FBI, even the New York Times. Her struggles and successes are documented via never-before seen home movies, audio diaries, and newly discovered news footage.  Winner of the Library of Congress Ken Burns Award, San Francisco Film Festival Closing Film.  

THE CHECKPOINT WOMEN:  MEMORIES – Live at Baxter Theatre, Thursday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.

A group of Israeli women established Checkpoint Watch to guard the human rights of those passing through the checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank, documenting on film their interactions with the soldiers and their advocacy for the people who need to make the crossing. 

JUNE ZERO – Live at Trager Family JCC, Saturday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m.

Jake Paltrow’s historical drama captures a profound event in Israeli history. The aftermath of the Adolf Eichmann trial is examined through the experiences of three characters: a 13-year-old Libyan immigrant who works in the factory where Eichmann’s corpse in incinerated, a Moroccan guard assigned to protect the jailed Eichmann from vigilante justice, and a Polish survivor of Auschwitz who is the chief interrogator at the trial. Winner of Jury Prize for Narrative Feature and Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. 

SEVEN BLESSINGS – Live at Speed Museum Cinema, Sunday, Feb. 18, 5 p.m.

Marie was two years old when she was given to her barren aunt, a common custom of Moroccan Jews at the time. Forty years later, Marie returns from France to marry, and is walked down the aisle by both of her mothers. During the Seven Blessings tradition, a week of festive meals in honor of the bride, old wounds and secrets surface and the celebration turns into a bittersweet explosion of food, family drama, and belated forgiveness. Winner of 10 Israeli Film Academy Awards including Best Picture. 

Film Synopses – VIRTUAL FILMS (Available Saturday, Feb. 3 – 10)


In one unflinching shot, this story reveals a day in the life of a Yiddish Ukrainian village on the Polish border 24 hours before the Nazi invasion. A filmmaker returns from Kyiv to his rural village to marry the love of his life, instead of the Rabbi’s daughter he is expected to wed. The producers have fully reconstructed a traditional Shtetl outside of Kyiv, which they plan to turn into a museum. Winner of Audience Award at Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival, Winner of Best Feature Film at Berlin Jewish Film Festival, Winner of Emerging Filmmaker Jury Prize at Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Winner of Audience Award at Cleveland International Film Festival. 

MARCH ‘68 

Apolitical students Hania and Janek fall in love in the midst of social turmoil and discrimination against Jews in 1960s Warsaw. When Hania’s parents lose their jobs and are forced to emigrate, the couple participate in a protest rally where they discover the high cost of freedom. Winner of Audience Award for Best Narrative at DC JxJ Film Festival, Winner of Audience Award for Best Feature at Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival, Winner of Audience Award for Best Narrative at Jewish International Film Festival Australia.  


When a high-end design firm presents its plant so reimagine the gift shop at The Anne Frank Haus, the company’s overt appeals to Generation Z spark a darkly comic debate about collective trauma, the Holocaust, and tote bags. Winner of Best Short film at San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. 


After getting rejected by several film festivals, Sean Wainsteim goes over everything that is wrong about his short Holocaust film. This film-within-a-film explores how young Jews today are still affected by generational trauma. (Suicidal content.)  Winner of Best Short Film at GenreBlast Film Festival, Winner of Best Short Film at Seattle Jewish Film Festival, Winner of Best documentary of Nightmares Film Festival, 30 additional awards.  


A folkloric fantasy based on Slavic mythology combined with a realistic coming-of-age story. Elina, an immigrant teenage girl has inherited from her grandmother a strange genetic quirk: she starts to grow feathers. Now she must choose her one identity. Winner of Grand Prix and Banjualuka International Animated Film Festival, Winner of Best Short Script at Nature Independent Film Festival. 

Film Synopses – VIRTUAL FILMS (Available Saturday, Feb. 11 – 18)


On June 8, 2016, two well-clad terrorists opened fire at a popular café in Tel Aviv, and murdered four people. Actual footage taken from security cameras is interspersed with testimonies from survivors, both Jewish and Palestinian. Produced by Nancy Spielberg, this gritty film deconstructs the events and examines the trauma shared by the victims. Winner of Promising Young Filmmaker at Jewish Film Festival Berlin Brandenburg. 


Moti Bernstein is the perfect match for every bride – good looks, a good family, a good mind. In search of a wife, he meets the best girls in the Orthodox world, but he falls for the one girl he can never have. Against everything he knows and every value he holds dear, Moti is forced into the most unexpected and unusual of stratagems in his attempt to prove that love can conquer all. 


Special note about the director of this film: On October 7th, Hamas terrorists burst into the film director’s bedroom in Kibbutz Kfar Aza. He fought the terrorists, allowing his wife and their one-month-old daughter to escape, but he was murdered.  

A father and his emotionally fragile son are forced to deal with yet another round of rockets aimed at their kibbutz bordering the Gaza strip. The son reaches a boiling point, and the father is forced to absorb the heat. Winner of International Competition at Filmschoolfest Munich, Winner of Best Cinematography at Tel Aviv International Students Film Festival.  


This short film about the intersection of Jewish identity and ethnic, racial, sexual and cultural diversity within the Jewish community comprises interviews with people from a wide range of Jewish experience. Official Selection of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, Official Selection of the Boston Jewish Film Festival, Official Selection of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival


Eight-year-old Evie becomes obsessed with pretending to be a Holocaust victim after dressing up as her estranged grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, for Heritage Day at her school. Inspired by a true event, this dark comedy explores the strife between mother and child. Winner of Jury Award at Coronado Island Film Festival. 


When Carmel, a religious boy, finds his best friend Ido at his house, heartbroken from a recent break-up, Carmel realizes he has feelings for Ido that he doesn’t dare admit.