2023 Off to a Busy Start for the Austin Jewish Film Festival  | Shalom Austin

2023 Off to a Busy Start for the Austin Jewish Film Festival 

Community News, The Jewish Outlook

Mar 1, 2023

Director, producer, and film subject of We Left the Camp Singing Sofia Tapinassi in conversation with AJFF Director David Finkel during their live-over-Zoom Q&A. Courtesy: AJFF

By: David Finkel, AJFF Director 

The Austin Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) director David Finkel and aGLIFF Programming Director Bears Rebecca Fonte kicked off 2023 by recording an engaging Q&A with the director, writer, and lead actor of the major new Jewish horror film, ”The Offering” which is being released worldwide. Readers can watch this interview on the festival’s Vimeo channel at http://vimeo. com/channels/1613763 

On January 8, AJFF presented The Replacement, AJFF’s first in-person event of the year. The audience gave high marks to this drama about Nazis living in open hiding in 1980s Spain, a film based on a true story. They also enjoyed the pre-recorded Q&A with acclaimed Spanish director Óscar Aibar. At that event, AJFF introduced its new Bring a Friend for Free (BFF) campaign, a program that allows any ticket holder or pass holder to bring at no cost two guests who have not attended an AJFF event in the past two years. 

AJFF presented two programs for International Holocaust Remembrance Day in late January. The first, “The Man in the Basement,” is another drama based on actual events about a contemporary Holocaust denier who takes up residence in a French Jewish couple’s basement. AJFF’s Q&A with director Phillipe Le Guay brought even more insight into this remarkable story. 

AJFF then partnered with KMFA, Austin’s classical music radio station, to present “We Left the Camp Singing,” a documentary about three classical composers who were imprisoned in Terezin; Pavel Haas and Gideon Klein died at Auschwitz, and Hans Winterberg survived the war. The filmmaker, Sofia Tapinassi, is a non-Jewish classical pianist. As she discovered this music, she investigated further, meeting survivors of Terezin and discovering how the music and other art programs there helped them survive the horror of the Shoah. Sofia lives in Berlin, Germany, and joined the audience at 3:00 a.m. (Berlin time) for a live-over-Zoom Q&A to answer our audience’s questions. This free in-person presentation was followed by a virtual screening available for two weeks worldwide. The film and our program were the subject of a Jerusalem Post article. 

On January 22, AJFF participated in Indie Meme’s “Shorts Showcase” with four other local film festivals — aGLIFF, Cine Las Americas, the Austin Asian-American Film Festival, and Indie Meme. They presented the thought-provoking short drama “Anne” and a Q&A with the director and the screenwriter. “Anne” recounts the story of two young actresses, one a white Jewish woman and the other a young Black woman, who are trying out for the part of Anne Frank. The film explores important issues in representation, prejudice, and creativity and was very popular with the audience. 

These five festivals will also be co-presenting a session at South by Southwest on March 13, Activating Diverse Communities Through Film Panel Discussion, which will explore how film is an excellent vehicle to bring people together and combat the “otherness” between communities. 

On February 12, AJFF365 presented “Where Life Begins,” another hot new Jewish film and the subject of a recent Forward article. As with other AJFF365 events, this film was presented in a hybrid format, allowing viewers to participate in-person or to watch online. 

On March 5, AJFF365 will co-present a free event at the University of Texas in collaboration with the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies—Jud Süss 2.0: Antisemitism, Misinformation, and Social Media. See: AustinJFF.org/events/JudSuss20/ for more details. 

AJFF365 subscribers get free access to all of AJFF365, AJFF’s year-round programming in partnership with Shalom Austin. Visit: AustinJFF.org/AJFF365 for more information. 

Latest Posts

Community Joins Together for Meaningful Events

Community Joins Together for Meaningful Events

Shalom Austin, IAC, Israeli Scouts (Tzufim) and BBYO collaborate for a special teen event during Israel’s Yom Hazikron and Yom HaAtzmaut. Credit: Maayan Oved By Maayan Oved, IAC Austin Program Manager In May, when the community commemorated Israel’s Yom Hazikron and...