Lights, Camera, Action!

Congregation B’nai Israel’s annual Nagle Family Jewish Film Festival offers a series of inspiring films with hosts who introduce each film and lead a discussion afterward.

The films take place on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm in the VIP Cocktail Lounge with popcorn and dessert accompanying each film. There is no cost for CBI members and a $10 donation per film for guests. The Film Festival is generously sponsored by the Nagle Family.

If you would like to learn more about our Film Festival, please contact our Programming Coordinator, Minda Shaiman.

November 6 – City of Joel
Run Time: 90 Min.
Film By: Jesse Sweet

Kiryas Joel is one of the fastest growing, most insular and orthodox Jewish communities in the world. This film follows a year in the village’s life and explores how it is the realization of founder (and namesake) Joel Teitelbaum. In the face of American materialism, he envisioned a shtetl in the suburbs where the Satmar sect could shun popular culture and follow religious traditions as they were practiced hundreds of years ago. The over-riding goals of the community are to be fruitful, multiply, follow the 613 mitzvot (commandments) from the Torah and wait for the Messiah to arrive. But they have proven themselves almost too successful. The village has some of the highest marriage and birth rates in the country, and unlike reform or secular Jews, assimilation and lack of observance are rare. The village is expanding so rapidly that they are running out of space for new families. Developers and leaders have come up with an annexation proposal to double the size of the village, but their non-Hassidic neighbors are opposed to the plan because they believe it will harm the environment and tilt the balance of political power in the local government. There are also dissidents within Kiryas Joel who oppose the consolidated power of the village leadership. And the Satmar’s belief that there should not be a Zionist state until the Messiah returns has put them in conflict with supporters of Israel. Our film goes inside the community and explores how this ultra-orthodox faith has become both a source of strength and tensions in Kiryas Joel. In the tradition of rigorous of observational documentaries, this film will present their lives in the full complexity without taking sides.

December 4 – The Cake Maker
Run Time: 105 Min.
Film By: Ofir Raul Graizer

Thomas, a young German baker, is having an affair with Oren, an Israeli married man who has frequent business visits in Berlin. When Oren dies in a car crash in Israel, Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking for answers regarding his death. Under a fabricated identity, Thomas infiltrates into the life of Anat, his lover’s newly widowed wife, who owns a small Café in downtown Jerusalem. Thomas starts to work for her and create German cakes and cookies that bring life into her Café. Thomas finds himself involved in Anat’s life in a way far beyond his anticipation, and to protect the truth he will stretch his lie to a point of no return.

January 8 – King Bibi
Run Time: 87 Min.
Film By: Dan Shadur and Liran Atzmor

Twenty years before the spectacle of Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu already understood the political benefits of a toxic relationship with the media, and direct communication with the public. King Bibi explores Netanyahu’s rise to power, relying solely on archival footage of his media performances over the years: from his days as a popular guest expert on American TV, through his public confession of adultery, and his mastery of the art of social media. From one studio to another, “Bibi” evolved from Israel’s great political hope, to a controversial figure whom some perceive as Israel’s savior, and others – as a cynical politician who will stop at nothing to retain his power.

February 5 – Prosecuting Evil
Run Time: 83 Min.
Film By: Barry Avrich

Barry Avrich’s gripping new documentary tells the fascinating story of Ben Ferencz—the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor and lifelong advocate of “law not war.” After witnessing Nazi concentration camps shortly after liberation, Ferencz became lead prosecutor in the Einsatzgruppen case at Nuremberg, which has been called the biggest murder trial in history. He was 27 years old and it was his first trial. All 22 Nazi officials tried for murdering over a million people were convicted. Ferencz went on to advocate for restitution for Jewish victims of the Holocaust and later for the establishment of the International Criminal Court. His fight for justice for victims of atrocity crimes continues today.

March 4 – The Light of Hope
Run Time: 96 Min.
Film By: Silvia Quer

In the early 1940’s, refugees from all over Europe seek shelter in South Western France, escaping persecution from the Nazis and from Franco’s regime in Spain. Among them, there are countless women, some of them pregnant, and their little children. The camps are in horrendous shape with refugees holding out with no protection from the cold. With no further ado, young Red Cross nurse Elisabeth Eidenbenz breathes new life into an old villa. By transforming it into a birth clinic she saves the lives of mothers and children from certain death. Despite all hardship, the villa becomes a safe haven resounding with the children’s laughter. But soon threats from without and within take shape: Authorities in Nazi-occupied France demand that she hand over all Jewish refugees and their children, while Elisabeth’s deputy Victoria sides with the Résistance partisans – a worthy cause but one that puts at stake the lives of everyone in the maternity…

April 1 – Keep The Change
Run Time: 95 Min.
Film By: Rachel Israel

When aspiring filmmaker David (Brandon Polansky) is mandated by a judge to attend a social program at the Jewish Community Center, he is sure of one thing: he doesn’t belong there. But when he’s assigned to visit the Brooklyn Bridge with the vivacious Sarah (Samantha Elisofon), sparks fly and his convictions are tested. Their budding relationship must weather Sarah’s romantic past, David’s judgmental mother (Jessica Walter), and their own pre-conceptions of what love is supposed to look like. Under the guise of an off-kilter New York romantic comedy, Keep the Change does something quite radical in offering a refreshingly honest portrait of a community seldom depicted on the big screen. Rarely has a romcom felt so deep and poignant. Thoroughly charming and quite funny, the film’s warmth and candor brings growth and transformation to the characters, and ultimately, to us.