Tonight I went to An Evening of Food and Film at the LA Jewish Film Festival which was fantastic. First, they had a reception with delicious Jewish food and desserts, and I got to mingle with the filmmakers and attendees. Then we all moved to the screening room, and saw several outstanding short films by emerging young filmmakers. This was followed by a Question and Answer session with several of the filmmakers and cast. The films were outstanding, of particular note was Negative directed by Yoav Hornung; Gambling Mensch, directed by Jason Zavaleta, Dr. Gutman's Eulogy, directed by Melanie Wainberg, and my favorite Jew, directed by Michael Carney.
Jew is a longer short film that explores hate crimes and how we all need to overcome our rage and love and accept each other, despite our differences. It comes to a shattering climax which had many in the audience sniffling, myself included. It stars Josh Berger, pictured above. After the screening I had an opportunity to briefly interview Mr. Berger, who was most accommodating and polite.
The film is wonderfully made, with powerful acting, and there are extensive fight scenes. I asked Mr. Berger if he was a fighter before the filming, or did he train. He said he trained for it, and also said that although he is Jewish but not an Orthodox Jew, he spent a month living as one to prepare for the role, which was quite involved. I also asked him how does one emotionally recover from filming such a dark section of the movie. He said he was depressed for about a week, but has studied acting extensively, and that is one of the jobs of an actor, to be able to go to those dark places but not stay there. Look for more exceptional films from Mr. Berger and others participating in this screening, as the quality of films shown was quite high, and in some cases, breathtaking.
More photos on my Flickr page here: flicker.com/joybennett. Tickets are still available for many of the festival events here lajfilmfest.org.
On a personal note, I am delighted to announce that today I was asked to join the community of bloggers at the Jewish Journal here in Los Angeles. You will soon be able to read my blog there as well as here. I will be blogging there as A SHIKSA IN HOLLYWOOD and cover local films, festivals, music, and cultural events in our magical city.