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NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival (March 6-20)
March 20 @ 7:00 pm - 9:15 pm EDT
Wednesday March 6th 2019 at 6:30pm – “Moroccan Opening Night & Pomegranate Awards Ceremony”
A sumptuous and star-studded celebration of Sephardi films and excellence in the arts. Featuring the Pomegranate Awards Ceremony, a Moroccan reception, and a musical performance by Moroccan star and 2019 Pomegranate Award recipient Maxime Karoutchi. All the Pomegranate Awards are hand-sculpted by Iraqi born artist Oded Halahmy.
Albert Memmi, this year’s Pomegranate Award for Lifetime Achievement recipient will appear via a video, RUE ALBERT MEMMI, recorded in his Paris home by the ASF.
The evening will also feature the NY Première of El Hara, a cinematic journey of the Hara (former Jewish Quarter of Tunis, Tunisia) today, punctuated by an exclusive interview with Albert Memmi and readings of his lyrical prose, directed by Margaux Fitoussi & Mo Scarpelli.
Directed by Margaux Fitoussi & Mo Scarpelli
USA/Tunisia, 15min, Short Documentary, NY Premiere
French & Arabic w/ English subtitles
How do the fortresses we build to protect ourselves affect the people we become? Through a cinematic journey of the Hara today, punctuated by an exclusive interview with Albert Memmi and readings of his lyrical prose, EL HARA explores how the places we come from shape who we become.
Thursday March 7th 2019 – “French Focus”
Directed by: Yves Azeroual and Mathieu Alterman
Produced by Alexandre Amiel
France, 2018, 52 min, Documentary, International Premiere, French with English subtitles
With: Enrico Macias, Norbert Saada, Philippe Clair, Régis Talar and Robert Castel
Arriving in France from North Africa with barely a suitcase in hand, these Sephardic immigrants and refugees became the stars and legends of French show-business: Recording-artist Enrico Macias, comedians Robert Castel & Lucette Sahuquet, impresario Regis Talar, actor, director, producer and screenwriter Philippe Clair (a/k/a Prosper Bensoussan!), and, the youngest of the lot, Norbert Saada. Starting from nothing they became: Les Magnifiques! With: Enrico Macias, Norbert Saada, Philippe Clair, Régis Talar, and Robert Castel.
Followed by Q&A with Director Yves Azeroual & Producer & Pomegranate Award winner, Alexandre Amiel
WHY DO THEY HATE US?
Directed by: Alexandre Amiel
France, 2017, 100 min, Documentary, US premiere
In French with English Subtitles
Alexandre Amiel, a French-Moroccan Sephardi filmmaker and veteran reporter, produced a trilogy of documentaries exploring hatred from the perspectives of its primary victims in French society by profiling three representatives: himself, Amelle Chahbi (a comedienne of Moroccan descent), and Lucien Jean-Baptiste (an actor and director who was born in the Caribbean). This critical and poignant trilogy has been shown all over the world, but here in its entirety, for the first time, in the U.S.
Followed by Q&A with Director & 2019 Pomegranate Award winner, Alexandre Amiel.
Saturday March 9th 2019 – “YemeNight”
MORI – SHABAZY’S RIDDLE
Directed by Israela Sha’ar Meoded
Israel, 2018, 55 minutes, Documentary, NY Premiere,
In Hebrew & Arabic, with English subtitles
How does Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, a 17th century Judeo-Arabic rabbinical poet in Yemen, get remixed by Madonna? Who was this Mori (spiritual leader)? While his oeuvre contains over 800 poems, only four biographical details are known. Director and ISEF scholarship recipient Israela Sha’ar Meoded embarks on a playful and imaginative journey in the footsteps of the greatest Yemenite poet, who, 400 years after his birth, is still read and beloved.
Sunday March 10 – “Egyptian Secrets”
FROM CAIRO TO THE CLOUD – THE WORLD OF THE CAIRO GENIZA
Directed by Michelle Paymar
Canada, 2018, 92 min, Documentary, NY Premiere
In 1896, Solomon Schechter, a Cambridge University Professor, came upon an extraordinary discovery inside a rundown Cairo synagogue: a vast room containing sacred ancient religious texts, manuscripts, and letters. Paymar’s documentary deftly details this amazing treasure trove, which includes handwritten documents by the influential physician and philosopher Moses Maimonides, as well as more commonplace correspondence and lists that reveal the ebb and flow of life in medieval Egypt during a period when Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities coexisted.
Presented in partnership with the Muslim American Leadership Alliance.
Followed by Q&A with Director Michelle Paymar and special guests.
Monday March 11th 2019 – Noble Intentions : Honoring SASSON GABAY
Directed by Daniel Syrkin
Israel, 2018, 90 min, TV series, U.S. Premiere
In Hebrew with English Subtitles
When a renowned economist is found dead in his bed, his friends decide to hide his death for five days, enough time to allow him to win the coveted Nobel Prize in Economics. Determined to retain some integrity for their friend, while also gaining, by proxy, some notoriety for themselves, the plan threatens to unravel in a nail-biting, hysterical, thoughtful, not-to-be missed popular series with an all-star cast: Sasson Gabai (THE BAND’S VISIT), Doval’e Glickman, Gidi Gov, and Tikva Dayan.
Followed by Q&A with Sasson Gabay, 2019 Ronit Elkabetz A”H Pomegranate Award recipient.
Wednesday March 13th 2019 @ INSTITUTO CERVANTES – “Spanish Memories”
YOUR WISHES IN HEAVEN (TU BOCA EN LOS CIELOS)
Directed by Miguel Ángel Nieto Solís
Spain, 2019, 56 min, Documentary, International Premiere
In Spanish with English subtitles
Rachey Muyal, an 87-year-old descendant of Sephardim expelled from Spain in 1492 delivers a handwritten letter to the tombs of Catholic Monarchs at Granada. The letter takes us on a delightful journey covering 500 years of coexistence enjoyed by the Jews in the lands of the Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisia, & Algeria). With this touching film, Director Miguel Ángel Nieto Solís reminds us that we’re all capable of forgiveness.
Followed by Q&A with Director Miguel Ángel Nieto Solís @ Instituto Cervantes
* The Instituto Cervantes is located at 211 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017
Thursday March 14th 2019 – “GAD ELMALEH Celebration”
Directed by & starring Gad Elmaleh
France, 2009, 105 min, French with English Subtitles
Coco, a 40-year old immigrant who started with nothing, is the perfect Sephardi success story. As his son Samuel’s bar mitzvah nears, he plans a spectacular party with 2,000 guests. But as he becomes overly involved in the preparations that include stadiums and large-scale concerts, he fails to see that his family is slowly drifting apart. COCO, based on a character sketch he created for his one-man show, “La Vie Normale,” is Gad Elmaleh at his best.
Followed by a Moroccan Costumed After Party including food, drinks, and Moroccan Entertainment: DJ & Belly Dancers.
Saturday March 16th 2019 – “A Syrian Sephardi Thriller”
THE LAST CROWN
Directed by Avi Dabach
Israel, 2018, 65 min, English and Hebrew with English subtitles
The Aleppo Codex, aka The Crown, is considered the most accurate and valuable edition of the Hebrew Bible. After being safeguarded for seven centuries by the Syrian Sephardic community of Aleppo, more than a third of its pages disappeared when it was smuggled to Israel in 1957. As Avi Dabach, the filmmaker and great-grandson of the Crown Keeper navigates the dark corridors of hidden history, archival documents and rare testimonies reveal an astonishing story involving an Israeli president, Mossad agents, passionate rabbis, and antique dealers.
Sunday March 17th 2019 – “Sephardi Politics in Israel”
PEPE’S LAST DANCE
Directed by Michael Alalu
Israel, 2016, 63 min, Documentary, NY Premiere, Hebrew with English subtitles
After decades of political struggles, Pepe Alalu, the leader of the left party in Jerusalem decides to run for mayor of the Holy City. Although it’s a slim shot, Pepe believes in presenting the public with an alternative. Michael, his son and the movie’s director joins him and together they embark on a Don Quixote Sancho Panza battle against the powerful windmills of the most complicated city in the whole world—Jerusalem.
LABOR, REBELLION, UPHEAVAL
Directed by David Deri, Ruth Yuval and Doron Glaezer
Israel, 2018, 50 min, Documentary, US Premiere, Hebrew with English subtitles
From the Creators of the electrifying documentary, THE ANCESTRAL SIN (NYSJFF 2018), comes a controversial new film [As part of the documentary series] about immigrant children from North Africa who are placed in vocational schools in periphery towns in Israel. While the systematic policy was meant to keep newcomers from Asia and Africa at the bottom of the social strata, the second generation created a grassroots movement for social and economic justice, ultimately rejecting exclusion and neglect.
Followed by Q&A with Director David Deri.
Directed by Eliran Malka
Israeli, 2018, 92 min, Narrative, NY premiere, In Hebrew with English subtitles
Eliran Malka’s directing debut is a dramatic underdog story filled with comedic relief. This close-to-reality account of the founding of Shas, the Sephardi Haredi political party, has been an audience favorite everywhere it goes. Exposing the injustice and discrimination that Shas sought to challenge, its first successes in the early 1980s, its ultimate achievement in winning 17 of the 120 Knesset seats in 1999, followed by the in-fighting and corruption behind the scenes. Fun, funny and poignant & not to be missed.
Presented as Festival Centerpiece. Followed by Q&A with director Eliran Malka.
Monday March 18th 2019
Master Class with David Deri
Q&A and discussion
Meet the Israeli director behind the documentaries everyone has been talking about in Israel: LABOUR, REBELLION, UPHEAVAL (NYSJFF 2019) and THE ANCESTRAL SIN (NYSJFF 2018). Deri, an alumnus of ISEF, will introduce clips of his films and discuss his groundbreaking documentaries.
“Sephardi Women in Front of and Behind the Camera”
COMME T’Y ES BELLE!
Directed by Lisa Azuelos
France, 2006, 85 min, In French with English subtitles
Like SEX AND THE CITY but way better because it’s French Sephardi! This box office hit and second feature from Sephardi filmmaker Lisa Azuelos, is a perfectly directed romantic comedy about four women juggling love, parenthood, new relationships, and their professional careers. An absolute crowd-pleaser.
Followed by Q&A with Director and 2019 Pomegranate Award Winner Lisa Azuelos.
Wednesday March 20th 2019 – “Iraqi Closing Night”
Pomegranate Award Presentation to Filmmaker LISA AZUELOS .
Directed by Adam Baroukh
US, 2018, 13 min, Short Narrative
In Arabic and English with English subtitles
Director Adam Baroukh makes you beam with pride—and cringe with discomfort at the same time—in this dead-on short comedy about the insular family ties of a typical Iraqi-Jewish community.
Directed by Levi Zini and Kobi Farag
Israel, 2017, 77 min, Documentary, NY Premiere
A riveting documentary, Photo Faraj recounts the tale of ten siblings from Iraq who immigrated to Israel and revolutionized photography. Faraj Bilbul started photographing in Baghdad when he was nine years old and continued after he immigrated with his family to Israel. The brothers opened the largest chain of photography studios in the country. Using rare archival footage, nephew Kobi Faraj tastefully embarks on a journey to solve the riddle that is his family.
Pomegranate Award Presentation to Director Lisa Azuelos
Post-screening Iraqi-style Megillah Reading
Closing Night Reception and Purim Party