Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jason goes to Jewfest--Day 6

Another day, two more movies.

First up, JOANNA, part of the spotlight on Poland, and also part of a theme I've noticed of children in the Holocaust. It's a great drama about a brave woman (the titular Joanna) in Warsaw who hides a little Jewish girl during the occupation. Little seven year old Rose is told by her mother to wait in the church, but she never returns. Joanna went in to see if there was any news about her husband who is a soldier at the front. She makes a fateful decision to help Rose, and becomes (eventually) her second mother. But no good deed goes unpunished, as she faces harassment not just by the occupying Germans but by the local resistance, who thinks a German officer is spending too much time at her place--a pretty good demonstration of how war is not full of moral absolutes but is in fact messy, complicated, and fraught with moral mistakes. Urszula Grabowska does a great job (and can truly be described as a trouper) as Joanna and Sara Knothe is absolutely adorable as little Rose.

And the late show was the highly THE QUEEN HAS NO CROWN, by festival regular Tomer Heymann. The title is an adaptation of a lyric from a song his father made him and all his brothers learn when they were little. Tomer uses decades of home movie footage to tell the story of growing up in Israel, coming out to his family, and all of his brothers at one time or another leaving Israel and (usually) coming back. It's a very personal story about a gay Jewish man in Israel. It's also a story about family, and about Israel, and the complicated, messy relationship of both. I'm kind of a sucker for these very personal documentaries. Somehow I find something very brave in allowing a movie to be made with all those little, personal, true moments that we normally try to keep hidden from the outside. And while Tomer is a personal documentary filmmaker and is no stranger to sharing his life, I'm even more impressed with his extended family and how much they share with the audience.

Total Running Time: 190 minutes
My Total Minutes: 245,155

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