The Tuscaloosa Jewish Cultural Arts Festival at the Bama Theatre (downtown Tuscaloosa) begins this weekend and includes a film festival Saturday through Tuesday. General details follow below, but I want to draw your attention to some specific films...

Saturday, 1/24, 7:30 pm: The Counterfeiters (Austrian, 2008)

Winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the 80th Academy Awards in 2008. Based on the true story of the Nazis' foiled scheme to collapse the US and UK economies by flooding America and England with fake currency, The Counterfeiters is told from the point of view of Salomon "Sally" Sorowitsch, a Jewish master
counterfeiter who was imprisoned in concentration camps and forced to lead the massive counterfeiting operation. Sorowitsch and his fellow imprisoned workers are forced to strike a balance between delaying the perfection of their phony bills (and trying to stymie the Nazi effort) versus preserving their own lives, which depend upon their Nazi overseers thinking that they are working as fast as they can to fabricate fake dollars and pounds. Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky.

Sunday matinee (double feature), January 25th, 2:00pm, at Reese Phifer Hall 216. (All other screenings are at the Bama Theatre.)
Sponsored by the TCF Department.
Circumcise Me
Directed by David Blumenfeld & Matthew Kalman, 43 min
Yisrael Campbell was born Chris Campbell to a Catholic family near Philadelphia. As a teenager, he struggled with substance abuse before discovering newfound attractions both to comedy and to Judaism. After several years of study, he decided to convert-not just to Judaism, but eventually to ultra-orthodox Judaism, but he never lost his taste for comedy, and he now uses his stand-up career to shed an irreverent light on his religion and life. A hilarious look at Jewish life and culture from both an outsider's and insider's perspective.
Matzo and Mistletoe
Directed by Kate Feiffer, 58 min
Kate Feiffer grew up in a Jewish family, in a neighborhood and a city filled with other Jews. Yet during her childhood, her parents never celebrated Jewish holidays, attended a
synagogue, or discussed their heritage, and every December, they decorated a Christmas tree-as did every other Jew she knew! In this fun and thought-provoking documentary, Feiffer turns a light-hearted eye to the question of what it means to be a secular Jew in America. In the process, she interviews friends, rabbis, and famous folks such as Alan Dershowitz, newscaster Mike Wallace, and her father (famed illustrator Jules Feiffer) about their own Jewish identities.

Monday, 7:30 p.m.:
Directed by Ayelet Menahemi, in Hebrew-Mandarin Chinese (with English subtitles)
Nominated for 10 Israeli Film Academy Awards

Miri is a widowed Israeli flight attendant who has tightly regimented her life and deeply repressed her emotions. However, when Miri's housekeeper is suddenly deported from Tel
Aviv to Bejing (unwillingly leaving behind her young son), Miri's controlled life turns to chaos as she scrambles to care for a scared little boy who only speaks Chinese. As Miri and her unexpected ward warm to each other, the film becomes a moving and funny portrait of two misplaced people who rediscover hope and joy.

Two animated shorts (3 minutes each) will precede Noodle.

Tuesday, 7:30 pm.:
Then She Found Me
Directed by Helen Hunt, Starring Helen Hunt, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Colin Firth.

Academy Award-winning actress Helen Hunt cowrote and made her directing debut with Then She Found Me, an amusing and touching feature film based on the bestselling novel by Elinor Lipman. April, a newlywed elementary school teacher eager to have a child, finds her world rocked by near-simultaneous exits and entrances. Just after her immature husband announces he wasn't ready for marriage after all and walks out, her flamboyant and famous biological mother (who gave her up for adoption almost 40 years earlier) bursts into her life.

The comedy short, Jewno, precedes Then She Found Me.

-- press release --

( Tuscaloosa ) The Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa County and Temple Emanu-El will present the 7 th Annual Jewish Cultural Festival January 20 April 12, 2009 at the Bama Theatre and The University of Alabama. The festival consists of an exhibit at UA's Hoole Library, a Jewish food and film festival, and a book discussion series. Admission will be charged for the food/film festival with other events free. Food/film festival passes are available at the Arts Council office for a discounted price of $30. Tickets for individual films will also be on sale at the box office prior to their start. Note: Film screenings will take place at both the Bama Theatre, Greensboro Ave. , downtown Tuscaloosa , and Reese Phifer Hall on the University of Alabama campus.

Tuscaloosa 's inaugural Jewish Film Festival took place in 2003 through a partnership between Temple Emanu-El and the Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa County. The festival was established with the goals of introducing local audiences to the best of Jewish filmmaking and expanding cultural and social understanding. Now in its seventh year, the festival has grown to include specific areas of Jewish culture such as food and literature.

Festival sponsors include the Gloria Narramore Moody Foundation and the Tuscaloosa Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For more information call 205-758-5195 or visit for a complete synopsis of films and festival details.

>>>January 24, 2009 at 6pm: Jewish Food Festival and opening night of the Film Festival at the Bama Theatre
The festival continues on Saturday, January 24, 2009 with a Jewish Food Festival at 6pm and the screening of The Counterfeitors at 7:30 p.m. (Admission $10 includes food festival and screening of the film). From bagels to hummus, the Jewish Food Festival will feature a huge selection of sweet and savory traditional cuisine, all identified with a description of their purpose in the Jewish culture and holiday season. The festival will represent both traditional foods and those adapted to the modern Jewish table. The opening night of the festival will continue with the screening of the film The Counterfeitors (Drama-RATED R) at 7:30 p.m.

>>>January 25, 2009 at 2pm: Sunday matinee (double feature): Circumcise Me and Matzo and Mistletoe
Reese Phifer Hall on the University of Alabama Campus (at the corner of University Boulevard and Colonial Drive );
Admission: $5-$7

>>>January 26, 2009 at 7:30pm: Monday evening (triple feature): Bound for Gory (short), Let My People Grow (short), and Noodle
Bama Theatre, 600 Greensboro Ave., downtown Tuscaloosa ; Admission: $5-$7

>>>January 27, 2009 at 7:30pm: Tuesday evening (double feature): Jewno (short) and Then She Found Me
Bama Theatre, 600 Greensboro Ave. , downtown Tuscaloosa ; Admission: $5-$7

General admission is $7. Student admission is $5.

Jeremy Butler

Professor - TCF Dept. - U Alabama
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