Last year’s Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival was a huge success, and the narrative has thus continued with this year’s run. Director of Public Relations and Marketing Bill Chenevert was enthusiastic to share his thoughts on the “Young and Independent” initiative that’s been introduced to this year’s festival. “We see [these four films] as wonderful films that have some kind of contemporary edge with modernist aesthetics and sensibilities,” Chenevert praised in an interview. The festival opens its doors with the hope of appealing to a wider demographic, and the reception in its first days has been resounding. With well over 500 in attendance opening night, this year has the youthful spirit and the wisdom to be the biggest yet.
Olivia Antsis, the director behind PJFF, knows that a “festival that dwells only in Holocaust documentaries or Israeli films doesn’t move the dial forward,” Chenevert added. “It needs to make bold artistic decisions.”
We’ve curated a list of films to be on the look-out for in the remaining run of the festival.
Sunday, Nov 12, 7 p.m.
The Gershman Y
401 S. Broad St.
With a quirky soundtrack, remarkable set design, and genuine insights into the highs and lows of interfaith romance, “Family Commitments” is an endearing and outrageously fun take on family and love in a modern, multicultural city. The film is part of the Young & Independent selection.
Monday, Nov 13, 7 p.m.
Lightbox Film Center at International House
3701 Chestnut St.
This deeply moving award-winning documentary highlights four women from across the globe who use art to empower women and girls and battle global gender-based violence.
“Keep The Change”
Wednesday, Nov 15, 7 p.m.
National Museum of American Jewish History
101 S. Independence Mall East
This heartfelt and award-winning romance of two young people on the autistic spectrum will undoubtedly be among the most genuine and memorable comedies you’ll see in the theater this year. “It has a special place in my heart,” Chenevert said. “Both characters and their actors are growing up and living in adult lives on the spectrum.” It’s an inspiring take on portraying and humanizing people with disabilities.
Thursday, Nov 16, 7 p.m.
125 S. 2nd St.
This compelling and detail-rich character study follows four women who come into contact with the film’s titular character, a man named Neta. Through humor, love and hope, “Saving Neta” promises a powerful and moving portrait of family relationships and parenthood in modern life.
“Love Is Thicker Than Water”
Sunday, Nov 19, 11 a.m.
The Gershman Y
Sharing the quirky undertones of the 2009 hit “(500) Days of Summer,” “Love Is Thicker Than Water” shines as a Romeo and Juliet story for the modern age with a touch of prickly humor. Despite it’s charming soundtrack, the narrative isn’t afraid to push beyond being subtle, according to Chenevert. Bagels and champagne will be served at 11 a.m., with the film screening at 12:30 p.m.
“The Bloom of Yesterday”
Sunday, Nov 19, 4 p.m.
The Gershman Y
This audacious, genre-bending comedy drama follows an anxiety-ridden Holocaust researcher and his equally erratic intern. “For our older audience goers, especially those committed to holocaust scholarship, this one might be an eyebrow raiser,” Chenevert cautioned gently. It’s a story about a complicated relationship, and unabashedly dives into its messy, controversial themes with resolve.
For more information on the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, including tickets and a full roster of films, visit PJFF.org. The festival runs until Sunday, Nov 19.