The Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival (or as I call it, Jewfest South) started up last Saturday night at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, and of course I was there.
After some introductions and thank-yous to all the people who make the festival work, we finally launched (pun intended) into the opening night film. AN ARTICLE OF HOPE is the story of Col. Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut. He was the son of a Holocaust survivor, a decorated veteran of the Israeli Air Force, and selected to be a crew member on the space shuttle Columbia. Unfortunately, that's the space shuttle Columbia that broke up on reentry and killed everyone on board. And the scenes in mission control as they lose contact are some of the most chilling scenes I've ever seen.
But this isn't just a movie about a tragedy. It's a movie about triumphing over tragedy. It's a movie about people persevering even if individual people pass away. It's a story of faith. It's a story about a lot of things (all crammed into a dense 54 minutes, with really no seconds of wasted time.) And, in the most literal sense, it's a movie about a little torah scroll that was hidden in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and brought along on the space shuttle (it was never recovered in the wreckage.) And in one of my favorite lines in the movie, it's not about how a man carried a tiny scroll into space, but about how a tiny scroll carried a people into space.
Afterwards there was an excellent panel discussion with director Daniel Cohen, Ilan's widow Rona Ramon, and Ilan's friend and fellow astronaut (and a Jew who put a mezuzah over the entrance to his bunk in the International Space Station) Garrett Reisman. A very moving and emotional night all around.
And, I'm pleased to help announce some big news hot off the presses. They have just finished a deal and AN ARTICLE OF HOPE will play on PBS Jan 31, 2013, the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Columbia disaster.
Running Time: 54 minutes
My Total Minutes: 300,877