By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Gershman Y will kick off its “new” Philadelphia Jewish Film Fest this week.
The 33rd annual Jewish Film Festival is promising: more opportunities for community engagement, more venues and more variety in show times with the goal of reaching a broader audience.
“This festival integrates the new direction of the Gershman Y as a whole,” says Linda Steinberg, who came on as executive director of the Gershman Y earlier this year. “There is a family day, there are date nights with very tantalizing and comedic films. There are films that were picked for a university audience where students can come for free.”
The festival features 18 films. Eleven are being shown for the first time in the Philadelphia region. Festival director Olivia Antsis says many of the films are critically acclaimed like the opening night attraction God’s Neighbors which was selected for the 2012 Cannes Film Festival Critics Week.
“It’s about the conflicting relationship inside a very religious man living in Israel who has fallen for a very secular woman,” she says.
Other films include Katie Halper’s Commie Camp, which will be shown on Election night and the Israeli-French film, Rock the Casbah. Isreali Oscar winner, Bethlehem will be premiering in the area. Another notable film is Red Flag, which will be shown on November 6 a.k.a. ‘date night’ at Ritz East. The film’s director and star, Alex Karpovsky, known for playing ‘Ray’ in the HBO hit Girls is the special guest.
“We are really excited to introduce him to the Philadelphia community,” says Antsis. “He’s playing in the film a character named Alex Karpovsky and it has a lot of overlap with his real life.”
Karpovsky is not the only special guest. The Gershman Y is hosting actors, directors, producers or someone knowledgeable about each film as a special guest, as part of a panel discussion or question and answer session after every feature. There are also after parties.
“This is not just see a film, eat popcorn and go home,” says Steinberg, “this is see a film, think about it, have a chance to talk about it and let it take you somewhere.”
The festival runs November 2nd through 16th. Go to pjff.org for more info.
Follow Cherri Gregg on Twitter @CherriGregg.