Throughout his career, Charlie Chaplin was asked if he were Jewish; after he made 1940’s The Great Dictator
, a bold parody of Adolf Hitler and Nazism, the question was put to him like an accusation. He is said to have replied, “I do not have that honor.” It’s fitting that Chaplin’s work of comic resistance should be the opening-night selection for the Nashville Jewish Film Festival, starting Sunday at the Belcourt.
Now in its fifth year, the NJFF intends to offer “a week of film for everyone.” That’s hard enough for film festivals with a much broader scope. For NJFF co-directors Barbara Eskind, Jackie Karr and Loretta Saff, it means balancing adult programming with offerings for kids; religious content with general interest; and education with entertainment. Most precariously, it requires addressing the unavoidable subject of the Holocaust without slighting the countless other facets of Jewish history and tradition.
This year’s festival doesn’t have the high-profile local premieres of years past: there’s not a hotly awaited title to rival past selections such as The Holy Land
. (A likely candidate, Marc Levin’s controversial doc Protocols of Zion
, is booked for a run at the Belcourt in December.) Instead, it opens Sunday with a 9 a.m. screening of Paper Clips
, with co-director Joe Fab and other participants in attendance, and closes Nov. 12 with the zany German comedy Go for Zucker!
These are a few of the coming week’s highlights:
Mechina: A Preparation
(Monday, 12:15 p.m.) Filmmakers Maital Guttman and Madeline Sacker explore the lives of Israeli teens as they face mandatory military service and the ethical troubles of conflict. Co-director Guttman will attend the screening.
Another Road Home
(Monday, 7:30 p.m.) Israeli director Danae Elon embarks on a quest to find Musa Obeidallah, the Palestinian housekeeper who helped raise her for more than 20 years. Elon and relatives of Obeidallah may attend.
Berlin’s Jewish Museum: A Personal Tour With Daniel Libeskind (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.) In a walking tour accompanied by wide-ranging commentary on history, philosophy and art, the Polish-born architect describes the problems inherent in designing the Berlin Museum’s new Jewish Museum wing. After the film, T.K. Davis, director of the Nashville Civic Design Center, will moderate a panel discussion with Scene architectural critic Christine Kreyling, architect Manuel Zeitlin and others.
Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust
(Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.) A fascinating subject—whether any film is adequate to the task of representing the Holocaust—receives scrutiny from Steven Spielberg and Sidney Lumet as well as critics and historians in Daniel Anker’s documentary. Vanderbilt professor of German literature Sara Eigen will introduce.
For more information, call 352-7620 or see www.belcourt.org