The Queer Sessions at JIFF 2019

As the 2019 Jewish International Film Festival rapidly approaches, be sure to check out the festival’s rich programme. Amongst the festival’s offerings are three queer-themed films, screening at various locations in Melbourne and Sydney, as detailed below.


Family in Transition

“Defies expectations.” – The Hollywood Reporter

Amit, a father of four living in a small town in Israel, tells his wife, Galit, that he is a woman and wants to transition. Galit pledges her support, ready to overcome surgery, social stigma and bureaucracy to maintain her marriage. But as Amit transforms, tensions arise while everyone in the family readjusts to understand themselves and each other anew. In the process, Galit must redefine her own identity and what it means to be a parent, a spouse and a lover.

Winner Best Israeli Documentary at the 2018 Docaviv Film Festival.


Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life

“A quantum leap in the work of one of Israel’s leading documentary filmmakers.” – Haaretz

Jonathan Agassi is one of the world’s most successful gay porn stars. The director Tomer Heymann (Mr Gaga) followed him for eight years, both in his temporary hometown of Berlin and back in Tel Aviv with his mother. Alongside his acting, he performs in live shows and works as an escort.

Offering a rare and intimate look inside what is often a taboo world, Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life also gives us access to the unique relationship between a mother and son who courageously redefine familiar family concepts. 

Contains sex scenes and nudity.


Where’s My Roy Cohn?

“A diabolical public figure mesmerizes from the grave.” – The Hollywood Reporter

Roy Cohn was one of the most controversial and influential American men of the 20th century. An only son born to a Jewish family in the Bronx, Cohn is best known for being Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel, prosecuting Esther and Julius Rosenberg, and for influencing the career of the young Queens real estate developer Donald Trump. He was a closeted man who refused to publicly identify as gay even as he was dying of Aids.

Explosive and scathingly delicious, Where’s My Roy Cohn? is a thriller-like exposé that reveals the workings of a deeply troubled master manipulator.

Queer @ JIFF 2018

Enjoy the following queer offerings at JIFF 2018.  Full programme here.

JIFF 2018


THE PRINCE AND THE DYBBUK (KSIĄŻĘ I DYBUK) POLANDGERMANY / 2017

“Outstanding… one of the most amazing biographies of the 20th century.” — The Spiegel

The director of the Yiddish classic The Dybbuk is remembered as a Polish aristocrat, Hollywood producer, a rogue and liar, and an open homosexual. But who, really, was Michal Waszyński (born Moshe Waks), the son of a poor Ukrainian Jewish blacksmith, who died as Prince Michal Waszyński in Italy? Waszyński made 40 films with Sophia Loren, Anna Magnani, Orson Welles and other stars, but his most spectacular creation was his own life.

Presenting a modern take on the narrative of the Wandering Jew, The Prince and the Dybbuk asks whether it is ever possible to cut oneself off from one’s roots, and at what cost.

Winner Best Documentary on Cinema at the 2017 Venice Film Festival.

82 MINS / ENGLISH, ITALIAN, HEBREW, YIDDISH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

DIRECTOR — Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosolowski
CATEGORY — Documentary


DEAR FREDY (FREDY HAYAKAR) ISRAEL / 2017

“People loved him. Their eyes sparkled when they talked about him, and they accept him as he was.” — Director Rubi Gat

The extraordinary story of Fredy Hirsch, a charismatic gymnast and youth leader who provided care and dignity to over 600 Jewish children.

Born in Germany, Hirsch was 19 years old when the Nuremberg Laws were published, forcing him to flee to the Czech Republic. Soon deported to Auschwitz, Hirsch used his experience to entertain and comfort the children of the camp, and collaborated with members of the underground to plan a revolt that never came to pass. Combining survivor testimony, exquisite animation and archive, Dear Fredy explores the life and legacy of an unsung queer Jewish hero.

74 MINS / HEBEW, ENGLISH, CZECH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

DIRECTOR — Rubi Gat
CATEGORY — Documentary


STUDIO 54: THE DOCUMENTARY USA / 2018

“[A] thrilling and definitive documentary [that] captures the delirium — and the dark side — of the legendary New York disco, and imprints us with an indelible portrait of the nightclub that became the apotheosis of the disco era: the freedom, the excess, the aristocracy, the pulsating pop glory.” — Variety

Studio 54 was the epicentre of 70s hedonism – a place that not only redefined the nightclub, but also came to symbolise an entire era. Its co-owners, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, two Jewish friends from Brooklyn, seemed to come out of nowhere to suddenly preside over a new kind of New York society. Now, 39 years after the velvet rope was first slung across the club’s hallowed threshold, this feature documentary tells the real story behind the greatest club of all time.

98 MINS / ENGLISH

DIRECTOR — Matt Tyrnauer
CAST — Steve Rubell, Ian Schrager
CATEGORY — Documentary


SAVING NETA (LEHATZIL ET NE) ISRAEL / 2016

“Touching and rewarding.” — The Jerusalem Post

Four women with nothing in common find their lives profoundly altered by an encounter with a mysterious stranger. A collection of stories spanning the seasons, each episode introduces a woman ‘on the verge’: a career police officer unable to cope with the stress of work and her teenage daughter; a lesbian cellist ambivalent about raising a child with her partner; a mother who plans to tell her children she’s getting a divorce; and a businesswoman who goes home for her mother’s funeral and must institutionalise her mentally challenged sister. Impacting each of these fractured lives is Neta, a drifter struggling with his own personal crisis.

This sensitive and thought-provoking contemplation of femininity and parenthood won the Audience Award at the 2017 Jerusalem Film Festival.

90 MINS / HEBREW (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

DIRECTOR — Nir Bergman
CAST — Benny Avni, Rotem Abuhab, Naama Arlaky, Irit Kaplan
CATEGORY — Feature


RED COW (PARA ADUMA) ISRAEL / 2018

“An intriguing tale of forbidden first love.” — The Hollywood Reporter

Benny, an only child who lost her mother at birth, lives with her fundamentalist father in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem. As her father becomes more and more obsessed with a red heifer that he believes will bring the redemption, Benny drifts further away and into the arms of Yael, a young new woman in her life. She embarks on a personal journey that will shape her religious, political and sexual consciousness.

This sensitive and assured coming-of-age film won Best Israeli Film, Best Debut Film and Best Actress at the 2018 Jerusalem Film Festival.

91 MINS / HEBREW (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

DIRECTOR — Tsivia Barkai
CAST — Gal Toren, Moran Rosenblatt, Avigail Kovari, Dana Sorin
CATEGORY — Feature


 

JIFF 2016 – The Queer Sessions

This year’s Jewish International Film Festival includes a selection of films to tempt those looking for queer themes.  Click on the film title for the offical JIFF page and session details in Melbourne and Sydney.*

Barash

“…fresh, frank look at coming out and coming of age in contemporary Israel” — Variety

“A female-focused Israeli rebel romance” — The Hollywood Reporter

Described as the Israeli Blue Is the Warmest Color, Barash vividly captures the heady energy and infatuation of youth, set against the backdrop of the Arab-Israeli conflict. With conservative, detached parents and an older sister who has mysteriously vanished from the IDF, 17 year old Na’ama is bored of her sleepy suburbia. But when a new girl appears at school, she sends shockwaves through Na’ama’s rigid domestic sphere, propelling her headlong into a dizzying world of sex and drugs.

A vibrant coming-of-age tale, Barash premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival, and won Best Script, Best Actress and Best Actor at Haifa International Film Festival.

85 MINS / HEBREW (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)
DIRECTOR — MICHAL VINIK

 

Family Commitments (Familie Verpflichtet)

David and Khaled are happily in love, poised to marry. Their attempts for matrimonial harmony are thwarted by family foibles: a homophobic father, a pseudo-orthodox Jewish mother, and an unexpected pregnancy. The two men have a few things to straighten out before they can say their vows and live happily ever after. An endearing and wacky family comedy.

85 MINS / GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)
DIRECTOR — HANNO OLDERDISSEN

 

The People vs. Fritz Bauer (Der Staat Gegen Fritz Bauer)[contains some LGBT themes; * screening nationally]

“…riveting and revelatory” – Forward

Germany, 1957. Attorney General Fritz Bauer receives crucial evidence on the whereabouts of the so-called ‘Architect of the Holocaust’, Adolf Eichmann. Bauer, himself Jewish, has been trying to take crimes from the Third Reich to court ever since his return from exile, but has been stymied by an unforgiving German government. Bauer covertly elicits the help of the Israeli secret service to bring Eichmann to justice, and, in doing so, commits treason against Germany.

With fast-paced direction from Lars Kraume (Tatort), The People vs. Fritz Bauer is a historical thriller that exposes the elusiveness of evil while celebrating the tenacious heroism of Bauer. Audience Award winner at the Locarno International Film Festival, and winner of six 2016 Lolas (German Oscars), including Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay.

IN HONOUR OF Peter Sharon Ivany for their support of Jewish Film in Australia

105 MINS / GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)
DIRECTOR — LARS KRAUME

 

Tikkun

“A heady, sometimes headlong blend of fable and nightmare, with overtones of David Lynch and Franz Kafka…” — NY Times

Compelling, memorable and visually spectacular, Avishai Sivan’s sophomore film tells the story of a young Hasidic student who undergoes an immense spiritual crisis. Haim-Aron is the son of an overbearing butcher, and a devout and methodical follower of the scriptures: adhering to rituals and traditions of his faith with a bored detachment. A freak accident and a (near) death experience change everything, as Haim-Aron finds himself at odds with his sexuality and religious beliefs.

Magnetising audiences with its bold depictions of sexuality and faith, Tikkun is a stylish and unsettling film that offers a visceral and tumultous experience of a man struggling against repressive forces. Winner of Best Feature Film, Best Cinematography, Best Script and Best Actor at Jerusalem Film Festival, and the Silver Leopard Prize at 2015 Locarno Film Festival.

121 MINS / HEBREW, YIDDISH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)
DIRECTOR — AVISHAI SIVAN

 

Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me (Lama Azavtani)

Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me doesn’t just have all the elements of a cinematic feat; it is one.” — Nisimazine

Muhammed is a young Israeli Palestinian man, meandering along the fringes of society. He is sexually and culturally confused and is drifting aimlessly through life. He is drawn in by the enigmatic Gurevitch, a motorbike-riding mechanic and the two begin an illicit and dangerous relationship. With a cast composed of non-actors, Israeli director, Hadar Morag, has created a visceral and immersive landscape, and a filmworld permeated by a sense of unease. Premiered at Venice Film Festival in the Orizzonti Competition.

94 MINS / HEBREW, ARABIC (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)
DIRECTOR — HADAR MORAG

The Good Son | JIFF

The Good Son

Israel, 2013

Please select your session time to purchase tickets:

Melbourne —

Tue 11 Nov 9:00pm (Elsternwick)
Fri 14 Nov 2:45pm (Elsternwick)

“The Good Son tells the poignant story of a young Israeli man … who takes the radical step of changing his gender: without telling his family first.” – International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, 2013.

This is the incredible story of Or, a 22-year-old Israeli man who plans to secretly have sex reassignment surgery. Or’s own home videos make up the first part of the film – the emotionally gruelling lead-up to the procedure, lying to his family about his acceptance to university abroad and stealing from them to pay for the operation in Thailand. Then he teams up with filmmaker Shirly Berkovitz, who not only documents the remainder of Or’s lonely and guilt-ridden journey through recovery and personal reinvention, but also acts as friend and confidant. Berkovitz captures Or’s first steps in her new life as a woman, talking with fellow transgender people and finally, confronting her family and the price of seeking her true identity. This is an extraordinary tale about overcoming self-doubt, conflicted loyalty and being true to one’s self.

SCREENING WITH SHORT FILM Salomea’s Nose


52 MINS/ ENGLISH, HEBREW (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)
DIRECTOR — SHIRLY BERKOVITZ
CATEGORY — OTHER ISRAEL

JIFF Archives
The Good Son

Queer @ Jewish International Film Festival 2012

The 2102 Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF) has a couple of Queer offerings.

Dead Europe

Yossi