SPOTLIGHT: Jewish Film Festival

Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

The Louisville Jewish Film Festival strives to show the richness and diversity of the Jewish experience by presenting the best contemporary international films. We chatted with Jewish Film Festival Executive Director Marsha Bornstein to get all the details on this can’t-miss event!

What is the Jewish Film Festival?

The Louisville Jewish Film Festival is celebrating its 19th year of showcasing outstanding national and international films illuminating some aspect of the Jewish experience. It will be held four weeks in February at five different venues. A committee of 15 film buffs, chaired by Keiley Caster, reviews 30-40 films before they vote on the 12 films to be shown during the festival. When making their selections, the committee takes notice of award-winning films with some universal themes that would appeal to the non-Jewish community as well as the Jewish community. We believe the art and power of film is a way to increase tolerance and understanding, educate and entertain. A good film is thought-provoking and makes you want to learn more. It is our goal each year to see more diversity in the audience.

What can guests expect at the event?

Frequently, you can expect to see a film that you would not view in a commercial theater. You might see old friends or find yourself gathering with others after the film to discuss it. This year, there are three special events with receptions, where you can socialize while enjoying great food. The Israeli food scene is very popular now, since it is a fusion of many cultures. Accompanying the film “In Search of Israeli Cuisine” will be an array of modern Israeli foods by Izzy’s as well as wine, many of which are mentioned in the travel food guide. This is perfect for all those Food Network viewers! Other films will have moderators to lead discussion following the film. “Disturbing the Peace,” shown at the Speed Museum Cinema, depicts a group of former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters who join together to challenge the status quo and say, “Enough.” There will be plenty of discussion about the current situation, which will be ably led by Dr. Ranen Omer-Sherman, chair of the Department of Jewish Studies at UofL. 

Why is the event important for the Jewish Community of Louisville and the greater community?

Film is a perfect vehicle to promote understanding by learning about other people’s lives and problems. Compassion and empathy can be a byproduct of watching a film when you can relax, open your mind and engage your senses. In these difficult times, film is more important than ever. The tickets are reasonably priced, and it is easy to attend alone or with a group.

How has the event grown over the years?

When I started the job in 2005, we showed five films in five days in one location. Last year was our most successful year, presenting 11 films, four receptions, five venues, three sell-out events and 1,400 in attendance. We are delighted to have developed wonderful community partnerships. The only thing that has not grown (much) is our ticket prices. Although a typical rental fee for one showing of a film costs $1,000, we have only increased our advance ticket price for a regular film by $1 since 2005. We are seeing much more diversity in our audiences as people realize you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy these films.

How do you hope the event changes in years to come?

It is our hope to continue to partner with local organizations, which helps promote our goal of increasing diversity in the audience. We need media exposure so people know about the festival and put it on their calendar. We will continue to bring the very best films we review and hope to increase the size of our audiences and sponsors. We would like to be able to bring in more artists associated with the making of the film if the support is available. Last year, we were able to bring in the Israeli rock musician that starred in the film “Rock the Red Zone.”

Where can you purchase tickets? Is it too late to get tickets?

Online sales, descriptions of the films and the schedule are available at Tickets are also available one hour before the film at the venue, or can be bought by calling 502.238.2771. They are also available in the lobby of the J at 3600 Dutchmans Lane.

Who are sponsors that make this possible?

Florence Morguelan Z “L,” Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, Louis Levy and Wilma Probst Levy Film and Theatre Fund, Bellarmine University Hillel, Ann and Coleman Friedman Children’s Fund, The Temple, Congregation Adath Jeshurun, Speed Art Museum UofL’s Middle East and Islamic Studies, Hillel, and Jewish Studies, The Eye Care Institute. VT

Jewish Film Festival

February 4-26 | Multiple Venues

$8.50 in advance, $10 at the door, $6 student unless otherwise stated. On the day of the show, tickets will be available one hour prior to the film at the venue.