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Emerging Forces at New York Jewish Film Festival 2020


By Roger Costa


An impressive, timely directorial debut, Isaac Cherem’s modern romance channels this generation’s emotional conflicts as they seek acceptance and meaning among family and society. Set in now-a-days Mexico City, the film paints a relevant portrait of a Jewish community preserving their values and traditions. When Ariela (seductively played by Naian González Norvind) starts a love affair with a non-Jewish man, she becomes the center of an interior conflict that could lead them apart, dividing the family. Cherem deeply observes both sides of the conflict and their reasons, with focus on Ariela’s search for sexual and professional identity. Vibrant, stylish and precise, it’s an accomplished look at family traditions, a young woman’s quest for freedom and the uncontrollable force of desire. (Screens 1/15, 18.)


Set in early 90’s, director Yaron Zilberman’s sophomore feature film follows a young university student who becomes a radical leader determined to exterminate the enemy among his Jewish community, engaging on a political war against Israel’s Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin. Rising star Yehuda Nahari Halevi gives a breakthrough performance as the villain protagonist, building up his character with incredible skills: he must fulfill his duties with family, friends and girlfriend, all while trying to organize a fully-armed, rebel movement. Israel’s official entry for the 2020 0scars, and named Best Film by the Israeli Film Academy, it captures the anxiety and tension of the crime with extreme brilliance and fast paced action, while connecting to relevant romantic and familiar insights. Zilberman conceives a suspenseful, detailed and observational psychological thriller depicting a man’s journey from a regular activist guy to a notorious murderer. (Screens 1/19, 20.)


Award-winning French director Catherine Corsini’s latest drama, spans decades in the life of Rachel, a modest religious lady whose affair with a diplomatic bon-vivant lead her to a series of misfortunes and disappointments. Unveiling the emotions of both lovebirds with raw delicacy, Corsini masterly extracts their real senses: Rachel maintains herself humble, hopeful and despite the humiliation, a devoted woman to her heart-driven decisions; Philippe is a passionate seducer who right after conquering her heart reveals himself as a cruel, abusive and irresponsible bourgeois. She is forced to take care of their child on her own, facing financial difficulty and societal prejudice. Time goes on, and the film presents new characters, an eccentric clan of artists and enthusiasts, while subtly capturing her daughter’s coming of age. Corsini addresses relevant topics such as women’s rights, respect and integrity, as well as the role of society towards single mothers. Gorgeously shot and punctuated by the intense piano music, it’s a striking and heart-wrenching multiple character-study with tragic twists and superb performances. (Screens 1/25, 27.)


A fabulous slapstick comedy following the confusions promoted by an irreverent French couple who travels to Poland for an important Holocaust-remembrance event. Filled with clever dialogue examining our troubled times, and contagiously funny situations addressing political, regional and language barriers, first-time award-winning director Élise Otzenberger proves to be a promising comedic force. Fresh and absorbing, it’s also a delightful look at family endurance and perseverance. (Screens 1/21.)

(The New York Jewish Film Festival is a co-production by The Jewish Museum and Film at Lincoln Center, runs January 15-28. Go to for tickets and schedule.)

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