The annual Judy Levis Krug Boca Raton Jewish Film Festival (JLKBRJFF) is back with a huge slate of exciting screenings for 2023. Presented by the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center and running from March 5–26, the festival is showing more than 80 feature-length films, documentaries and shorts in cinemas throughout the region, making it one of largest and longest Jewish/Israeli film festivals in the country.
The three-week marathon of excellent films, special guests and more kicked off with a special Cinebash event featuring author and historian Dr. Robert Watson, who presented an episode from the U.S. Premiere of the all-new TV series Forgotten Frontlines: The Nazi Titanic, on February 28 at the Polo Club of Boca Raton.
Following that incredible show — about how one of the most opulent ships ever built became a propagandic coup, a transport vessel and eventually a concentration camp (according to recently unsealed records) — the festival continues with movies from more than 25 countries, including 41 dramas, 27 documentaries and 17 shorts. In-theater films will be shown at the Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton, Movies of Delray, and the Beifield Auditorium located at the Levis JCC’s Sandler Center.
JLKBRJFF is anticipating some 3,000 attendees as it attracts eager film buffs from all over Palm Beach County and well beyond, plus all the participating filmmakers, making it a great scene to talk shop, network or just gab about the movies we love. And there’s no shortage of quality films.
“This year’s Festival reflects storytelling at its finest,” JLKBRJFF Artistic Director and cofounder Wendy Honig says, adding, “With themes ranging from survival and resilience to art history, culture and romance, we are excited to offer such a wide array of films guided by the Jewish experience.”
Lesley Rich, festival program director and cofounder, explains that South Florida, especially Boca Raton and the Broward/Palm Beach County area in general, has a large Jewish community, which makes it a good home for the JLKBRJFF.
“The niche festivals, I believe, are all very important because they focus in on a particular aspect of society,” Rich says. “Here it’s on Jewish and Israeli concerns and interests — we have a lot of films on anti-Semitism, films about the Holocaust and also just things that are interesting to our community,” he continues, pointing out the diverse slate of movies on a wide range of subjects.
Festival organizers recommend a number of must-see films, including some North American and U.S. premieres, and movies showing for the first time ever in Palm Beach County. Visit the festival website (brjff2023.eventive.org) to explore scheduled screenings and read in-depth info about each film.
Must-See Movies at the Boca Raton Jewish Film Festival
The Rothschild Saga: Rise – Riches – Repercussions is a 52-minute Austrian short detailing the history of Mayer Amschel Rothschild, a wildly successful banker who became the target of anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda that still has an effect more than 75 years later as the name “Rothschild” continues to inspire anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Matchmaking is a feature-length romantic comedy out of Israel that adds a light Orthodox twist to Shakespeare’s classic play Romeo and Juliet.
Another Israeli feature film, Perfect Strangers tells the story of seven friends who attend a dinner and play a game with their cellphones that leads to disaster when all their darkest secrets are revealed.
Based on the novel of the same name, The Accusation is a timely and thought-provoking #MeToo drama from French screenwriter and director Yvan Attal. The film explores the dark side of human behavior when a 22-year-old student is accused of raping his mother’s boyfriend’s daughter who has complicated feelings about sex due to her Orthodox Jewish upbringing.
A feature-length, “all-women film” out of Israel, Indigo is a Kosher-certified movie by the Orthodox communities of Beit Shemesh and B’nai Brak that’s touted as a cross between Cinderella and Downton Abbey. This is its North American premiere.
The Path is a thrilling, German feature-length family drama that follows two children, a journalist father, and a dog as they flee from the Nazis and must make their way through the hazardous Pyrenees on their expedition to New York City. This is its North American premiere.
Modigliani and His Secrets, a French documentary about the iconic artist, is based on an ongoing scientific study and reveals the secrets behind the myths surrounding this mysterious bohemian painter. This is the U.S. premiere.
Rich, the festival director, personally recommends Tel Aviv / Beirut, a film made in France, Germany and Cyprus, and set in the 1980s and 2006 with the Israeli-Lebanese conflict as its backdrop. Spanning over 20 years, the movie follows two women, a Lebanese and an Israeli, who bond amid the war and embark on a road trip together to rescue a loved one separated at the border. This festival is its North American premiere.
Other important international, world, U.S. and North American premieres being shown during JLKBRJFF include Baltic Truth, a film by Dudu Fisher; 8-minute LGBTQ short film Sin and Repent; Yiddish film Shttl; and romantic comedy Marrying Myself, among many more.
“With the loyal support of Levis JCC Grand Benefactor Judy Levis Krug, our incredible screening committee and a strong collaboration with our film partners, we are proud to once again present our community with a premier cinematic experience,” Rich says of this year’s exciting Judy Levis Krug Boca Raton Jewish Film Festival lineup.
A full program guide, including dates, showtimes, trailers and a synopsis of each film, along with special events and more info, is available at bocajff.org.