Jewish Film Festival makes its debut


By Adam Aasen

The premier of the Indianapolis Jewish Film Festival will feature nine thought-provoking movies as a part of a weeklong event, including a documentary shown at University High School in Carmel.

The inaugural festival, which takes place from May 3 to 10, will showcase a variety of film styles, from historical documentaries to dramas to light-hearted comedies. Panel discussions will precede some of the films, including some controversial movies such as “Trembling Before G-D,” a film about Hasidic Jews confronting their homosexuality.

Robert Epstein, an Indianapolis attorney and local Jewish community leader, organized the festival as a way to explore many aspects of Jewish life and history. He said a group of about 20 people, not all of which are Jewish, narrowed down about 200 films to the nine they are showing. He said he wanted the films to be uplifting, but they, “definitely wanted to have a couple films that were cutting edge.”

“We wanted to show films that have something positive say and were not downers,” he said.

As a result, they avoided films about the Holocaust for the first festival. Instead, they have films about topics that many people might have been exposed to previously.

“Live and Become,” which will be shown at Light of the World Christian Church, follows a young Ethiopian boy who relocates to Israel as a part of an exodus of Jewish orphans in 1984. Turns out, the boy is hiding two secrets: He’s not Jewish or an orphan.

Another film, “A Matter of Size” is an Israeli comedy about sumo wrestling.

In Carmel, moviegoers can watch “Six Days in June” at University High School at 7 p.m. May 9. The film depicts the famous Six-Day War, which took place in 1967. A period of high tension preceded a surprise attack by Israel against Egypt, as a response to mobilization of Egyptian forces on the Israeli border. The film explores how the conflict affects the area to this very day.

University High School was chosen as a location because it is home of Congregation Beth Shalom, but families of any students at the high school can receive free tickets to the movie.

Many of the films will be shown at Christian venues because Epstein wants this festival to be welcoming to people of all faiths. Not only will rabbis be present, but ministers and priests will participate in panel discussions.

An Egyptian belly dancer and band will be featured at their gala event on May 4.

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A week of movies

All films cost $10 except the May 4 showing and gala which costs $30; the May 9 showing is free.

● “David,” 7 p.m. May 3 at the Central Library in Indianapolis

● “The Band’s Visit,” 7:30 p.m. May 4 at the Central Library in Indianapolis; gala starts at 6 p.m.

● “Where I stand,” 7:30 p.m. May 5 at Art Theater at the Fashion Mall

● “A Matter of Size,” 7:30 p.m. May 6 at Art Theater at the Fashion Mall

● “Time of Favor,” 7:30 p.m. May 7 at Art Theater at the Fashion Mall

● “The Other Son,” 7:30 p.m. May 8 at Art Theater at the Fashion Mall

● “Six Days in June,” 7 p.m. May 9 at University High School

● “Trembling before G-D,” noon May 10 at Christian Theological Seminary, 1000 W. 42nd St. in Indianapolis

● “Live and Become,” 7 p.m. May 10 at Light of the World Christian Church, 4646 Michigan Rd. in Indianapolis