TAMPA — The 25th annual Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival will run April 11-25 and will showcase more than 25 feature films.
Visit tbjff.org for ticket, movie and program information.
Since its inception in 1997, the TBJFF has featured Jewish films that touch on themes such as life, love, tradition, family, history and current affairs.
“This year the Tampa JCCs and Federation and the Jewish Federation of Florida’s Gulf Coast, are proud to present a simply outstanding display of the finest film making with a Jewish lens that we have seen yet,” said Brandy Gold, TBJFF director.
The 2021 TBJFF committee which is made up of 20 film aficionados led by Stewart Donnell and Roxana Levin, screening committee co-chairs. The committee was tasked with screening nearly 75 films since fall 2020. They carefully curated the lineup of 25 feature films to honor the festival’s silver anniversary. Two bonus mid-length features are also included in the festival lineup.
The variety of film genres and entertaining programming was developed by the executive committee led by co-chairs Sara Golding Chair and Loni Shelef. The sub-committee was more than creative in planning the grandiose festival with COVID-19 compliant regulations all in place.
“We were determined to carry out our plans for a unique celebration for the 25th anniversary and we were all in with careful and creative planning in light of COVID-19,” said Golding Scher.
The venues this year are predominantly virtual cinemas, however opening and closing night events will be offered in person and virtually. Space is limited at the opening and closing in-person events. The community is encouraged to purchase in-person tickets in advance.
The silver screen celebration will open in the virtual cinema and in person with the very first ever TBJFF drive-in movie experience on April 11. The STARR Award recipient will be honored. Attendees will be able to purchase concessions from on-site food trucks to enhance the movie-going experience. The festival will run through April 25. Those attending in person can enjoy a champagne toast to 25 years of festivals and a movie-on-the-lawn experience. Both celebrations will take place at a new outdoor venue located at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, 505 N. Howard Ave., Tampa.
Each day, two films will upload onto the virtual cinema platform. Once purchased and set to ‘play,’ the movie guest will have 48 hours to watch the film. Movies will upload at 1 and 7 p.m. each day except during Shabbat. Time of film upload will vary for Friday and Saturday. Guests may purchase individual movies for viewing at a cost of $12 plus streaming fee or purchase mini- or all-access passes.
The opening night drive-in movie ticket is $25 per car, and the closing night movie-on-the-lawn film is $25 for a pod of two chairs together and a champagne split to toast the STARR Award recipient.
Once tickets or passes are purchased, guests will be able to see the entire festival menu on their streaming device. The box office will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. throughout the festival except during Shabbat to assist guests in need. Visit tbjff.org for ticket, movie and program information.
Due to the pandemic, last year’s festival was delayed until June and became entirely virtual. Some of the films that were intended to premier during the planned festival were not available during the new timeframe. Four of those films are now available and have joined the 21 new award-winning feature and mid-length films that will highlight the art of telling stories with a Jewish lens.
“Stories of Jewish life presented in a variety of genres are sure to engage and inspire filmgoers,” said Gold.
“It has been quite a year for film, and all of the arts, I’m grateful to our committee for their efforts during the selection process. It wasn’t easy; however, we have an exceptional festival that we are quite proud of,” said Shelef. “Our screening committee did a superb job in difficult conditions.”
Due to social distancing of COVID-19, the committee was challenged to screen nearly 75 films at home, apart from one another.
The films selected this year are exceptionally moving and afford the opportunity for viewers to come to together to celebrate, think deeper and have motivating discussions about the realities of Jewish life. The Committee Choice Award went to the opening night film, “Golden Voices,” which tells the story of two Soviet film industry voice actors who must rebuild their lives after immigrating to Israel. In this bittersweet dramedy, Victor and Raya Frenkel, legends in the Soviet Union, dubbed major international movie stars’ voices for audiences behind the Iron Curtain. But after the USSR’s collapse, they join the wave of Soviet Jews moving to Israel. As strangers in a strange land, an absurd new reality tempers their dreams of a better life. With no need for Russian-speaking voiceover artists in Israel, the couple apply their talents in creatively bizarre and unexpected ways. Nominated for four Israeli Academy Awards including Best Actress (Maria Belkin), this deadpan delight is a perfect mix of levity and pathos, reflecting hopes and fears of immigrants the world over.
To expand the festival experience, TJBFF is bringing back Conversation Cafés in conjunction with several of the films, which enhances the movie watching experience. Conversation Cafés take place during the virtual cinema run of a film. This allows audience members the opportunity to watch the movie prior to or after the film club styled talks. These casual discussions are free for participants and will be led by proficient film screening committee members. The Conversation Cafés are open to all who have watched the movie, are planning to watch the movie or simply want great conversation.
Also enhancing the film festival this year are 10 Signature Engagement Programs, which feature guest filmmakers, directors, film talent and topic experts. SEPs are free of charge and the community is invited to participate. Registration is required to receive the personal and private links. Guests will be joining the webinar styled programs via Zoom and will have the opportunity in some cases to ask question directly to the speakers.
Both SEPs and Conversation Café sessions are free to attend.
Following is a partial list of feature TJBFF films listed in chronological order of opening on virtual cinema:
- “Golden Voices,” April 11
- “Perfect,” April 12
- “‘Til Kingdom Come,” April 12
- “Here We Are,” April 13
- “Angelica,” April 13
- “Mrs. G,” April 14
- “Marry Me However,” April 14
- “Rain in Her Eyes,” April 15
- “Menachem Begin: Peace and War,” April 15
- “Kiss Me Kosher,” April 16
- “A Starry Sky Above Roman Ghetto,” April 17
- “Sublet,” April 17
- “We Were the Others,” April 19
- “Shared Legacies – The African-American Jewish Civil Rights Alliance,” April 19
- “The House on Wannsee Street,” April 20
- “Thou Shalt Not Hate,” April 20
- “Love It Was Not,” April 21
- “Shalom Taiwan,” April 21
- “The Albanian Code,” April 22
- “Asia,” April 22
- “The Crossing,” April 23
- “If You See My Mother,” April 23
- “Sky Raiders,” April 24 0
- “Aulcie,” April 24
- “Underground Ballet,” April 25
- “A Common Goal,” April 25
- “Crescendo,” April 25