Thursday, November 6, 2014

Jason goes to Jewfest South--Sunday, Oct 19th

Okay, technically it's the Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival, but I call it Jewfest South for short (compared to the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, which is Jewfest North.) Anyway, it started weeks ago and I'm finally getting around to writing about it.

After missing the opening night featuring Israel's most popular female singer Rita Jahan Foruz, I did make it out for a double feature on the second day of the festival.

First up was THE JEWISH CARDINAL. The amazing true story of Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Polish Jew who converted to Catholicism and joined the priesthood. And while keeping his Jewish identity (he's quick to remind his parishioners that he's a Jew--just like Jesus) he becomes a favorite of Pope John Paul II. In fact, for a large part of the movie it seems like it's going to be all about their friendship (they even go swimming together in a pool the pontiff had installed.) And, in some ways, it is. But then the tension in the movie enters--a sect of Carmelite nuns build a convent in Auschwitz. Jews are outraged, and Lustiger (who by now is Archbishop of Paris) is on their side. But John Paul seems to be uninterested. For the latter half of the movie this becomes the basis for a kind of unique political thriller--church politics, that is. A fascinating story, anchored by some great performances by Laurent Lucas as Lustiger and AurĂ©lien Recoing as Pope John Paul II.

Then I saw OUT IN THE DARK, which I had actually seen last year at Jewfest North. It holds up to multiple viewings. Here's what I said last time:
OUT IN THE DARK, a drama, thriller, and gay love story set in Tel Aviv and the occupied territories. Nimr is a Palestinian and a grad student in Tel Aviv with a promising future ahead of him. He's also gay, and he takes the big chance of going dancing in a gay Tel Aviv nightclub. Well, that gets him on the radar of the police. Not that it's illegal to be gay, but it's great blackmail material--become an informant or his student visa will be revoked and he'll have to go back home...and if anyone back home finds out about his dalliances, he's as good as dead. In Israel, even in liberal Tel Aviv, he's an outsider viewed with suspicion for being Palestinian. Back home in the occupied territory, he has to keep his lifestyle a secret. And his only friend (and lover) is Roy, a sweet kid from a wealthy family who thinks he--with the help of his father's connections--can solve anything. It's a tense and provocative story about a very difficult situation.
Yup, I'll stand by that review. Nothing to add.

Total Running Time: 186 minutes
My Total Minutes: 371,258

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