The Atlantic Jewish Film Festival will be returning to Halifax with both in-person and virtual screenings this year.
After the event was held virtually in 2020 due to COVID-19, organizers had hoped they could launch the 8th Annual Atlantic Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) as an in-person celebration but have instead created a hybrid version that kicks off November 18.
“The pandemic is the gift that keeps giving unfortunately, so we do have a hybrid model this year,” says longtime volunteer Schuyler H Smith about this year’s festivities. “(But) I’m actually really looking to the film list that we’ve got this year.”
Among the 12 selections that will be showcased in this year’s festival are films from as far afield as Germany, Denmark, Poland and Italy. Organizers are particularly proud that the opening night film will be the accliamed Israeli hit, Here We Are.
“(Filmmaker) Nir Bergman wrote and directed this film about his own life experiences and I’m really excited to see more than a few clips of the film on Thursday night,” admits Smith about the drama that has earned four Israeli Film Academy Awards, including best director and best screenplay.
The story of the relationship between a father and his autistic son, the film will be screening at Cineplex Cinemas at Park Lane on November 18 at 7 p.m. and will feature special guest speaker Cynthia Carroll, Autism Nova Scotia’s executive director.
“We’ve had some really good partnerships with Autism Nova Scotia in the past and so we’re definitely keen to keep those partnerships going,” notes Smith, who has been involved with AJFF since it started 8 years ago.
“Working with other groups is what makes us stronger in the end so having a show which is about a relationship between a father and a son that shows the full spectrum of autism and builds on how we are all connected is something that I think is really important for all of us here.”
Although this year’s AJFF will feature a dozen films from all over the globe, the film The Mohel will remain the event’s local contribution.
As part of AJFF’s popular short program, local filmmaker Charles Wahl’s drama follows a couple as they struggle with the financial and family burdens of bringing in a mohel to perform their son’s Brit Milah ceremony.
“The Mohel has had an amazing festival run so far and playing at the Atlantic Jewish Film Festival is incredibly meaningful,” notes the director in an email. “With the film being a Jewish Atlantic Canadian story that was shot in Nova Scotia, I’m excited for it to play here at home and at a festival where the subject matter will be especially resonant.”
The AJFF will wrap up on November 21 with the in-person screening of Kiss Me Kosher, which is described as “a romantic misadventure that tells the story of two generations of Israeli women who fall for a German woman and a Palestinian man.”
That closing night screening will take place at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.
“We’ve worked with Pier 21 for many years in the film festival (and) having the showings in their filming room has always been my favourite part of the festival,” adds Smith. “They do such an amazing job of hosting and creating a welcoming environment (and) that cultural awareness is all around you when you’re at Pier 21.”
While in-person screenings will adhere to each venue’s COVID-19 mandates directed by Nova Scotia Health guidelines, AJFF is also offering online access to those who want to enjoy the festival from home.
As such, audiences will be able to watch exclusive film content for up to six weeks on their smartphone, Apple TV, tablet, Roku and more. Tickets for individual screenings will cost $12 with an exclusive, complete package for $40.
“We want to make this accessible,” says Smith, noting that thanks to great sponsors, the AJFF is able to create competitive pricing for local film lovers. “That allows us to offer the tickets at a reduced price and make them more accessible to folks as well.”
For ticket or more information on the Atlantic Jewish Film Festival, visit the website.