Athens festival amplifies Jewish voices through film | Arts & Culture

Devoted to educating individuals about Jewish tradition, the Athens Jewish Movie Pageant returned on Sunday with its first competition since 2019. This group occasion was open and welcoming to all, in hopes of offering perception into Jewish historical past and leisure by reside music, meals and movie.

Earlier than the movies started, attendees loved meals catered by native mainstay Mama’s Boy and reside music from Mary and the Scorching Hotty-Hots. Athens Academy, the venue of the competition, was stuffed with the sound of jazz and swing music, on theme with the function movie of the occasion, which takes place within the Nineteen Forties.

Attendees then moved into the theater, the place the night time opened with three rigorously chosen brief movies. The viewers chuckled because the occasion was kicked off with two comedies: “Two of Each Sort” and “Jewish Common Hospital.” Following the laughter, the subsequent brief movie, “Internal Flame,” tugged on the coronary heart strings of the viewers, because it highlighted the struggles of a deaf dancer.

“Farewell, Mr. Haffmann,” a function movie that depicts the lifetime of a French couple within the midst of World Warfare II that hid a Jewish man within the basement of his personal former jewellery store, was proven subsequent. The movie obtained a 100% ranking by critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes and gained a number of awards at movie festivals across the nation, such because the San Francisco Jewish Movie Pageant.

“[People] can see several types of motion pictures that may relate to the previous or to the current,” Ron Zell, president of the Athens Jewish Movie Pageant, mentioned. “Within the occasion of brief [films], new, creative younger individuals [are] doing these motion pictures, like comedies, dramas, stuff that [people] aren’t going to see anyplace else.”

The movie competition serves primarily to advertise the lived experiences of Jewish communities by movies, and confirmed worldwide movies moderately than solely American or Israeli movies. In keeping with vice chairman of the board Lynn Elmore, many individuals are inclined to assume Jewish movies are solely in regards to the Holocaust, however the Athens Jewish Movie Pageant strives to indicate that it’s about greater than that.

Begun in 2008, with their first competition in 2009, the Athens Jewish Movie Pageant is the longest-running movie competition in Athens and is the second-largest Jewish movie competition within the state of Georgia, simply after the Atlanta Jewish Movie Pageant.

Abraham Tesser, former board president and one of many individuals credited with bringing the competition to Athens, described Athens as an “oasis” that has “range” and “celebration of cultures of all types.” This is likely one of the the explanation why he and his spouse, Carmen Tesser, former secretary on the board, determined to start out the competition in Athens.

“There is a Jewish group in Athens, type of hidden,” Carmen Tesser mentioned. “It isn’t all a part of the synagogue or a part of Chabad or a part of Hillel. There’s Jews in every single place. And it is a optimistic factor that brings us all collectively.”

Abraham and Carmen Tesser have been concerned within the Atlanta Jewish Movie Pageant, and wished the group to have a subsidiary in Athens. After they put the thought out into the Jewish group, individuals have been enthusiastic. Even internet hosting conferences at their very own home, the Tessers took the subsequent steps to develop into a nonprofit group and create a board of Jewish and non-Jewish individuals alike, in hopes of being a group occasion moderately than a congregation occasion.

“It mirrored the Jewish group in a manner that not one of the particularly Jewish establishments do,” Abraham Tesser mentioned. “That’s to say, for a lot of Jews, the spiritual a part of their identification shouldn’t be practically as vital because the cultural, conventional a part of their identification, so it gave them a spot to specific themselves and to get pleasure from their tradition with out different issues.”

In keeping with Carmen Tesser, the Athens Jewish Movie Pageant emphasizes schooling of Jewish historical past and tradition. Laura McHugh, a loyal attendee of the competition, must agree with this. McHugh defined that she has discovered about many points of World Warfare II that she had not beforehand considered, corresponding to what occurs to survivors of the Holocaust.

“I believe it is easy for individuals to overlook what occurred,” McHugh mentioned. “When it is lined in highschool, it’s simply over a brief time frame and there is probably not time to delve into it sufficient.”

Like many public occasions, COVID-19 had a big influence on the Athens Jewish Movie Pageant. Usually, the competition happened over 5 days, however for the reason that pandemic, the board determined to scale back it to solely someday. The brief movies proven on Sunday have been the movies initially to be proven on the 2020 competition, which was canceled when the unique venue, Ciné, closed days earlier than the occasion was set to happen.

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