One of the largest and most respected Jewish film festivals in North America, the Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF) is an international exhibition of cinema that celebrates the diversity of Jewish history, culture and experience through the moving image.

For complete listings, and to purchase tickets and festival passes, visit WJFF.org

All screenings listed below take place at AFI Silver Theatre.

No AFI Silver Member passes accepted.


Spotlight
North American Premiere
DRIVER (2018) [LIFNEY HAZIKARON]

From the creator of SHTISEL and the producers of THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER and THE WOMEN'S BALCONY comes an intimate exploration of lives at the fringes of Bnei Brak's ultra-Orthodox community. Nahman drives beggars to affluent homes, and coaches them to spin tall tales that inspire generosity – he gets a cut of the take and keeps a record of their stories. He wiles away the rest of his night with questionable members of his pious society in makeshift casinos and dining halls. When his wife suddenly leaves, Nahman is faced with the responsibility of taking care of his nine-year-old daughter alone. DIR/SCR Yehonatan Indursky; PROD Carole Scotta. Israel, 2018, color, 90 min. In Hebrew with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Thurs, May 3, 7:30 p.m.

New 4K Restoration
THE TWO OF US (1967) [LE VIEIL HOMME ET L'ENFANT]

A comically bittersweet coming of age story, Claude Berri's THE TWO OF US is also a poignant drama of identity and heritage. When an eight-year-old Jewish boy (Alain Cohen) living in Nazi-occupied France is sent by his parents to live in the country with the Catholic parents of their friends, he is faced with a culture clash both religious and generational. As the grandfatherly Pepe, beloved character actor Michel Simon infuses the role with a gruff tenderness. His growing relationship with the boy is a touching look into the possibility of genuine connection in a broken world. DIR/SCR Claude Berri; SCR Gérard Brach, Michel Rivelin; PROD Paul Cadéac, André Hunebelle. France, 1967, color, 86 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Sat, May 5, 11:00 a.m. | Pre-Sale Only*
*Saturday screenings before 6:15 p.m. are pre-sale only in observance of Shabbat. Tickets to these screenings will not be available for purchase at the door.

Mid-Atlantic Premiere
A MEMOIR OF WAR [LA DOULEUR]

Emmanuel Finkiel's adaptation of seminal author Marguerite Duras' autobiographical novel ("The War: A Memoir") centers on an intensely powerful performance by Mélanie Thierry as Duras. Both she and her husband, the writer Robert Antelme, were members of the Resistance living in Nazi-occupied Paris. Desperate for news of Robert, who has been arrested and sent to Dachau, Marguerite enters into a high-risk game of psychological intrigue with French Nazi collaborator Rabier. But as the months wear on without word of her husband, she begins the process of confronting the unimaginable. DIR/SCR Emmanuel Finkiel, from the novel "The War: A Memoir" by Marguerite Duras; PROD Julien Deris, Yael Fogiel, David Gauquié, Laetitia Gonzalez. Belgium/France, 2017, color, 127 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Sat, May 5, 1:00 p.m. | Pre-Sale Only*
*Saturday screenings before 6:15 p.m. are pre-sale only in observance of Shabbat. Tickets to these screenings will not be available for purchase at the door.

DC Premiere
MR. AND MRS. ADELMAN [MR & MME ADELMAN]

In Nicolas Bedos' directorial debut, he and his co-writer Doria Tillier star as a French couple intertwined, consumed with and defined by each other in life and work: he, an accomplished writer; she, his editor and occasional muse. The chemistry between Bedos and Tillier is irresistible, as they quip back and forth through four decades of music, haircuts and a romance that's more shattered glass and Camus than chocolate and flowers. Biting and tender, MR. AND MRS. ADELMAN packs the intricacies of marriage into a romantic comedy – with a twist. (Note adapted from the Hamptons International Film Festival.) DIR/SCR Nicolas Bedos; SCR Doria Tillier; PROD François Kraus; Denis Pineau-Valencienne. France, 2017, color, 120 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Sat, May 5, 3:40 p.m. | Pre-Sale Only*
*Saturday screenings before 6:15 p.m. are pre-sale only in observance of Shabbat. Tickets to these screenings will not be available for purchase at the door.

DC Premiere
CUBA'S FORGOTTEN JEWELS: A HAVEN IN HAVANA

After allowing in a wave of Jewish refugees in the 1920s and '30s, Cuba shut its doors to immigrants, most notably to the Jews aboard the St. Louis in 1939. In 1940, Cuba changed course and took in 6,000 Jewish refugees, including hundreds of Jewish diamond cutters who, for a few years, turned the tropical island into one of the world's major diamond-polishing centers. CUBA'S FORGOTTEN JEWELS was born of the tales that Marion Kreith told her daughter (co-director Judy Kreith) about her escape from Nazi-occupied Belgium and her teenage years in 1940s Havana. DIR/SCR/PROD Judy Kreith, Robin Truesdale. U.S., 2017, color, 45 min. In English, Hebrew and Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Sat, May 5, 6:10 p.m. | Pre-Sale Only*
*Saturday screenings before 6:15 p.m. are pre-sale only in observance of Shabbat. Tickets to these screenings will not be available for purchase at the door.

WJFF VISIONARY AWARD: ROBERTA GROSSMAN
Sponsored by the Dweck Family

The WJFF's Annual Visionary Award recognizes creativity and insight in presenting the full diversity of the Jewish experience through moving image. The 2018 honoree is Roberta Grossman, who will join us for a special extended Q&A and Award ceremony. The award will be presented alongside a special preview of clip excerpts from her forthcoming film, WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY.

About Roberta Grossman:
Roberta Grossman is an award-winning filmmaker who has written, directed and produced more than 40 hours of film and television. Grossman's 2012 HAVA NAGILA (THE MOVIE) uses the song "Hava Nagila" as a portal into 150 years of Jewish history, culture and spirituality. BLESSED IS THE MATCH: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF HANNAH SENESH, Grossman's 2008 film, was shortlisted for an Academy® Award, aired on PBS and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy.

In 2014, Grossman completed ABOVE AND BEYOND with producer Nancy Spielberg, about the Jewish-American WWII pilots who volunteered to fight in Israel's War of Independence. Most recently, Grossman teamed with Sophie Sartain to co-direct the Netflix documentary SEEING ALLRED, which premiered to great acclaim at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

She also produced DOROTHEA LANGE: GRAB A HUNK OF LIGHTNING, 500 NATIONS, and HOMELAND: FOUR PORTRAITS OF NATIVE ACTION.

About the Film:
WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY
WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY tells the story of Emanuel Ringelblum and the Oyneg Shabes Archive, the secret archive he created and led in the Warsaw Ghetto. With 30,000 pages of writing, photographs, posters and more, the Oyneg Shabes Archive is the most important cache of in-the-moment, eyewitness accounts from the Holocaust. It documents not only how the Jews of the ghetto died, but how they lived. The film is based on the book of the same name by historian Samuel Kassow. DIR/SCR/PROD Roberta Grossman. U.S., 2018, color. NOT RATED. Preview clips (approx. 30 min.)

Saturday, May 5, 8:30 p.m.

Opening Film (additional screening)
DC Premiere
SAMMY DAVIS JR.: I'VE GOTTA BE ME

Sammy Davis, Jr.'s career was indisputably legendary, so vast and multifaceted that it was dizzying in its scope and scale. And yet, his life was complex, complicated and contradictory. Davis strove to achieve the American Dream in a time of racial prejudice and shifting political territory. He was the veteran of increasingly outdated show business traditions; he frequently found himself bracketed by the bigotry of white America and the distaste of black America; and he was the most public black figure to embrace Judaism, thereby yoking his identity to another persecuted minority. Featuring interviews with Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Novak, and never-before-seen photographs from Davis' vast personal collection, SAMMY DAVIS, JR.: I'VE GOTTA BE ME explores the life and art of a uniquely gifted entertainer whose trajectory blazed across the major flashpoints of American society from the Depression through the 1980s. DIR Sam Pollard; SCR Laurence Maslon; PROD Sally Rosenthal. U.S., 2017, color, 100 min. In English. NOT RATED

Special Screening
SEEING ALLRED

Special screening followed by extended discussion with filmmakers Roberta Grossman (recipient of WJFF's 2018 Visionary Award) and Sophie Sartain on the #MeToo movement
To some, Gloria Allred is a money-grubbing, shrill feminist prone to tawdry theatrics; to others she's the most effective and fearless women's rights attorney in America. In this intimate, warts-and-all documentary, one thing is certain: Allred's 40-year devotion to asserting, protecting and expanding the rights of women is unwavering and her influence unassailable. Whether fighting gender discrimination in toy stores, spousal abuse in the O.J. trial or sexual harassment by Donald Trump, every case is personal and an opportunity to amplify the cause. Her special brand of advocacy often calls for creative solutions. When the statute of limitations prevented her clients from pressing charges against Bill Cosby, she led them in a battle to eliminate the statute for the benefit of future victims. At 76, like an unstoppable superhero with a rolling suitcase and no time to lose, she crisscrosses the country arguing cases, marching for justice and delivering impromptu speeches on the Lincoln Memorial steps. And as the #MeToo movement gathers steam and powerful men fall, Allred knowingly, stoically declares, "The fight has only just begun." (Note adapted from Sundance Film Festival.) DIR/SCR/PROD Sophie Sartain, Roberta Grossman; PROD Marta Kauffman, Robbie Rowe Tollin, Hannah K. S. Canter. U.S., 2018, color, 96 min. In English. NOT RATED

WJFF Classic
10th Anniversary
HANNAH SENESH: BLESSED IS THE MATCH

Introduction by director Roberta Grossman, recipient of WJFF's 2018 Visionary Award

In 1944, 22-year-old Hannah Senesh parachuted into Nazi-occupied Europe with a small group of Jewish volunteers from Palestine. Theirs was the only military rescue mission for Jews that occurred in World War II. Narrated by Academy Award®-winner Joan Allen, the multi-award-winning film follows the remarkable journey of this young Hungarian poet and diarist, paratrooper and resistance fighter. DIR/SCR/PROD Roberta Grossman; SCR Sophie Sartain; PROD Lisa Thomas. U.S., 2008, color, 86 min. In English. NOT RATED

DC Premiere
THE LAST SUIT [EL ÚLTIMO TRAJE]

Abraham Burszte's kids have sold his Buenos Aires residence and planted him a retirement home. But Abraham survived the Holocaust, made a successful life in a foreign land and isn't about to fade away so quietly! Instead, he's planned a one-way trip to the other side of the world to find the man who years earlier saved him from certain death. With its klezmer-driven score and evocative cinematography, THE LAST SUIT beautifully blends a life-affirming reverence with a weighty and worthwhile theme. (Note adapted from the Miami International Film Festival.) DIR/SCR Pablo Solarz; PROD Mariela Besuievsky, Juan Pablo Galli, Gerardo Herrero, Vanessa Ragone, Antonio Saura, Juan Vera. Argentina/Spain, 2017, color, 92 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED

GI JEWS: JEWISH AMERICANS IN WORLD WAR II

550,000 Jewish men and women served in World War II. Lisa Ades' GI JEWS: JEWISH AMERICANS IN WWII is a loving ode to their memory. Like all Americans, they fought against fascism, but they also waged a more personal fight - to save their brethren in Europe. In their own words, veterans both unknown and famous (among them Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Henry Kissinger) bring their war experiences to life. After years of struggle, they emerged transformed, more powerfully American and more deeply Jewish, determined to continue the fight for equality and tolerance at home. DIR/PROD Lisa Ades; SCR Maia Harris; PROD Amanda Bonavita. U.S., 2018, color, 87 min. In English. NOT RATED

Mid-Atlantic Premiere
CLOSENESS [TESNOTA]

In this controversial Cannes award-winner set in the small Russian town of Nalchik, a Jewish family's ties fray when son David and his fiancé Lea are kidnapped. First-time director Kantemir Balagov harkens back to the Russia of his youth – one shaped by the Chechen wars – aiming his camera on the family's daughter, Ilana, a rebellious tomboy chaffing against traditional family structure. While her parents turn to the Jewish community for help, she seeks solace with her Kabardian boyfriend. (Note adapted from the International Film Festival Rotterdam.) DIR Kantemir Balagov; SCR Anton Yarush; PROD Eduard Pichugin, Aleksandr Sokurov, Nikolay Yankin. Russia, 2017, color, 118 min. In Russian and Kabardian with English subtitles. NOT RATED. Please note: Includes disturbing footage from the Dagestan massacre.

Spotlight
Mid-Atlantic Premiere
LONGING (2017) [GA'AGUA]

One of Israel's biggest hits of the year! Nominated for 13 Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Film. In this achingly funny and bittersweet tragicomedy, Shai Avivi (ONE WEEK AND A DAY) plays Ariel, a contented, well-off bachelor whose comfortable life is thrown into disarray when he learns that he is a father – and has been for nearly two decades. What he discovers next is a bombshell of even greater magnitude, and one that forces Ariel to grapple with parental responsibility, existential regret and the potential for love and human connection. DIR/SCR/PROD Savi Gabizon; PROD Leon Edery, Moshe Edery, Tami Leon, Chilik Michaeli, Avraham Pirchi. Israel, 2017, color, 104 min. In Hebrew with English subtitles. NOT RATED

North American Premiere
LIBYA – THE LAST EXODUS [LIBIA: L'ULTIMO ESODO]

Following past tributes to the Jewish communities of Egypt and Rhodes, Ruggero Gabbai presents a moving portrait of the thriving Jewish community that once resided in Libya. From Italian colonization, through foreign domination, and delicate cohabitation with the local Arab population, the film depicts the life of the Jews of Libya who lived in the country for centuries until the events of 1967, when violent riots forced them to leave and never come back. (Note adapted from the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival.) DIR/SCR/PROD Ruggero Gabbai; SCR David Meghagi; PROD Francesca Olga Hasbani, Chiara Passoni. Italy, 2018, color, 65 min. In Hebrew and Italian with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Thurs, May 10, 7:30 p.m.

DC Premiere
SHALOM BOLLYWOOD: THE UNTOLD STORY OF INDIAN CINEMA

A celebration of the all-singing, all-dancing history of the world's largest film industry, SHALOM BOLLYWOOD reveals the unlikely story of the 2,000-year-old Indian-Jewish community and its formative place in shaping Indian cinema. In the nascent days of Bollywood, it was taboo for Hindu and Islamic women to perform onscreen, so Indian Jewish women were the leading actresses. Using stage names, the women weren't obviously identified as Jewish, and were commonly thought to be Christian or Muslim. After learning the untold history of Jewish performers in Bollywood cinema, you can see actress Farhat Ezekiel in Raj Kapoor's SHREE 420 and experience a Bollywood classic with new eyes. DIR/SCR/PROD Danny Ben-Moshe. Australia/India, 2017, color, 100 min. In English. NOT RATED

Sat, May 12, 12:15 p.m. | Pre-Sale Only*
*Saturday screenings before 6:15 p.m. are pre-sale only in observance of Shabbat. Tickets to these screenings will not be available for purchase at the door.

WJFF Classic
SHREE 420

One of the masterpieces of 1950s Bombay cinema, Raj Kapoor directs and stars as an honest country youth who comes to Bombay in search of work and quickly discovers that honesty is not much of an asset in the big city. Featuring an evocative performance by Nadira (Farhat Ezekiel), whose achievements as a Jewish woman in Bollywood are detailed in SHALOM BOLLYWOOD. In SHREE 420, she plays the vamp – chasing men, drinking and gambling, in a case of life imitating art. DIR/PROD Raj Kapoor; SCR K.A. Abbas, V.P. Sathe. India, 1955, b&w, 177 min. In Hindi with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Sat, May 12, 2:15 p.m. | Pre-Sale Only*
*Saturday screenings before 6:15 p.m. are pre-sale only in observance of Shabbat. Tickets to these screenings will not be available for purchase at the door.

Spotlight
DC Premiere
SHELTER (2018)

Naomi (Neta Riskin, NORMAN) is a Mossad agent sent to Germany to protect Mona (Golshifteh Farahani, PATERSON), a Lebanese informant, in Eran Riklis' (LEMON TREE) international espionage thriller. Together for two weeks in a quiet Hamburg apartment, the two women develop a tense relationship that is by turns complicated, dangerous and alluring. Naomi learns that Mona is close to a Hezbollah leader she once betrayed, and fate takes a surprising turn in this suspense-laden, elegant neo-noir. Also starring Lior Ashkenazi (FOXTROT). DIR/SCR/PROD Eran Riklis; PROD Bettina Brokemper, Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre, Michael Eckelt, Moshe Edery, Leon Edery. Israel, 2018, color, 93 min. In Hebrew with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Sat, May 12, 2:30 p.m. | Pre-Sale Only*
*Saturday screenings before 6:15 p.m. are pre-sale only in observance of Shabbat. Tickets to these screenings will not be available for purchase at the door.

Spotlight
DC Premiere
THE CAKEMAKER

German baker Tomas' affair with Israeli businessman Oren ends abruptly when Oren dies. Without time to process, Tomas travels to Jerusalem, and finds work in a cafe run by his lover's widow, Anat, but keeps his identity a secret. Both mourning the same man, they stave off loneliness by finding common cause in the kitchen: Anat's menu springs to life with mouthwatering cakes, pastries and glossy confections. Business booms, but the newfound attention exposes rifts between Israel and Germany, secular and religious, and gay and straight. DIR/SCR Ofir Raul Graizer; PROD Mathias Schwerbrock, Itai Tamir. Germany/Israel, 2017, color, 105 min. In English, Hebrew and German with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Sat, May 12, 4:30 p.m. | Pre-Sale Only*
*Saturday screenings before 6:15 p.m. are pre-sale only in observance of Shabbat. Tickets to these screenings will not be available for purchase at the door.

Mid-Atlantic Premiere
BUDAPEST NOIR

Set in the politically fraught autumn of 1936, this mystery follows hard-boiled reporter Zsigmond Gordon as he probes the murder of a young prostitute. Against the backdrop of the funeral of a fascist-leaning Hungarian prime minister, Gordon follows clues that take him into the city's underbelly – a world of pornography and fixers, boxers and brothels, powerful crime syndicates and secret Communist cells – and all the way to the highest echelons of power. DIR Éva Gárdos; SCR Vilmos Kondor, András Szekér; PROD Ildiko Kemeny. Hungary, 2017, color, 94 min. In English and Hungarian with English subtitles. NOT RATED

East Coast Premiere
THE STARRY SKY ABOVE ME [LE CIEL ÉTOILÉ AU-DESSUS DE MA TÊTE]

Laurent Poitrenaux delivers a tour-de-force performance as the neurotic and wounded Bruno in the charmingly odd THE STARRY SKY ABOVE ME, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and opened stateside at Slamdance. While Bruno is indeed a writer, he has not published anything for 20 years, and lives in a shared flat, where he leads a bohemian lifestyle clad in boxer shorts and dressing gown. Out of concern, his family and friends show up at his house with the best of intentions – but is it possible to help, against the will of the man himself? DIR/SCR/PROD Ilan Klipper; SCR Raphaël Neal. France, 2017, color, 76 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED

North American Premiere
THE LEGEND OF KING SOLOMON

In this animated family adaptation of the biblical story, the young Solomon must save the kingdom of Jerusalem from the evil devil Asmodeus. After he is banished into the Arabian Desert, Solomon teams up with the beautiful Princess Naama of Petra and the Queen of Sheba as they seek to put an end to Asmodeus' tyrannical thirst for power. "I hope that this film, with an Arab princess and a Jewish king as protagonists, will be a kind of prophecy and a message of hope for the young generations." – director Albert Hanan Kaminski. DIR/SCR Albert Hanan Kaminski; SCR Gyula Böszörményi; PROD Moshe Edery, Leon Edery, Edna Kowarsky, Elinor Kowarsky, Réka Temple. Hungary/Israel, 2017, color, 80 min. In English. NOT RATED; recommended for ages 7+

Sun, May 13, 10:15 a.m.

WJFF Classic
New 2K Restoration
THE DYBBUK (1937)

In this tale of star-crossed lovers, ill-fated vows and supernatural possession, two friends tempt fate by betrothing their unborn children. Years later when the pledge is broken, and the couple's love is thwarted, Channon (Leon Liebgold, TEVYE) turns to the mystical Kabbalah to win back his love (Lili Liliana, KOL NIDRE). Made in Poland on the eve of WWII in a stylized, expressionistic manner dubbed "Hasidic Gothic," THE DYBBUK is considered one of the most important and influential Jewish films of all time. DIR Michael Waszyński; SCR S. A. Kacyzna, from the play by S. Ansky; PROD Zygfryd Mayflauer. Poland, 1937, b&w, 125 min. In Yiddish with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Digital Restoration by The National Center for Jewish Film.

Sun, May 13, 12:30 p.m.

Mid-Atlantic Premiere
THE HERO (2016) [DE HELD]

Sara Silverstein is looking forward to returning to the Netherlands with her family after many years living as an expat in LA. Her happiness about reuniting with her elderly parents and sister is overshadowed almost immediately by a series of anti-Semitic violent assaults, which reveal a dark family secret. The horrors of WWII still reverberate in this chilling and original thriller, written and directed by Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Menno Meyjes (co-writer of THE COLOR PURPLE and INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE). DIR/SCR Menno Meyjes, from the novel by Jessica Durlacher; PROD Rachel van Bommel. Netherlands, 2016, color, 95 min. In Dutch with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Digital Restoration by The National Center for Jewish Film.

Mid-Atlantic Premiere
THE DEAD NATION [TARA MOARTA]

A Jewish doctor from Bucharest begins keeping a diary after an anti-Semitic Nationalist is elected Prime Minister of Romania in 1937. Heralded auteur Radu Jude (AFERIM!, SCARRED HEARTS) reads between the lines of this telling text, setting the chilling narrative against everyday stills taken by a rural photographer, and a stark soundtrack composed of patriotic anthems from the time. These interwoven elements unlock a harrowing story that the photos alone could not reveal - one of rising anti-Semitism, violence, pogroms and deportations in the lead up to the Romanian Holocaust. DIR/SCR Radu Jude; PROD Ada Solomon. Romania, 2017, color, 83 min. In Romanian with English subtitles. NOT RATED