22nd Toronto Jewish Film Festival [fr]
One of the largest festivals of its kind in the world, Toronto Jewish Film Festival returns May 1st and runs through May 11, with 116 films from 23 countries that reflect aspects of Jewish identity and diversity with universal themes.
France is well represented in this 2014 edition with 11 French Films scheduled including the opening night film and international premiere 24 days by Alexandre Arcady.
24 days by Alexandre Arcady (filmmaker in attendance))
Openning film – International Premiere – Drama – 110 minutes
Invited by the Consulate General of France in Toronto, the director of 24 days, Alexandre Arcady, will be in Toronto to present his moving feature that tells the true story of the kidnapping of Ilan Halimi in a Paris suburb by The Gang of Barbarians, who expect a huge ransom as they assume that all Jews have money. Based on the book by Ilan’s mother Ruth, Arcady’s film follows the police as they try to keep one step ahead of the kidnappers. 24 Days also compassionately presents a family under the immense pressure of possibly losing their son.
Thursday, May 1st at 8:30 PM at Varsity Cinema and Saturday, May 3 at 9:00 PM at Famous Players Canada Square Cinemas
The Dune by Yossi Aviram
Canadian Premiere – Drama – 89 minutes
On a deserted beach in the west of France lies an unconscious man. His identity is unknown and he does not speak. Reuven (Niels Arestrup, A Prophet) is a police investigator who is convinced to take on one last investigation. Featuring a wonderfullynuanced lead performance from Lior Ashkenazi (Footnote, Late Marriage), The Dune tells the story of two men at life’s crossroads. Filled with enigmas that slowly reveal themselves, this beautifully photographed awardwinning film is richly rewarding. Also starring Emma de Caunes (The Science of Sleep, Ma Mère).
Wednesday, May 7 at 7:30 at Famous Players Canada Square Cinemas
For A Woman by Diane Kurys
Winner of the 2014 Micki Moore Award – Drama – 100 minutes
Featuring some of France’s top actors—Benoit Magimel (The Piano Teacher), Nicolas Duvauchelle (White Material) and Sylvie Testud (La Rafle)—filmmaker Diane Kurys (Entre Nous) delivers a lush and well-made melodrama offering a unique perspective on Jewish life in postwar France. After having met in a concentration camp, Michael and Lena are married and have made a new life by opening a tailor shop. When Michael’s brother, previously thought dead, reappears, a story of secrets, betrayals and infidelity unfolds.
Sunday, May 4 at 8:00 PM at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk and Sunday, May 11 at 1:00 PM at Rom Eaton Theatre
Kidon by Emmanuel Naccache (filmmaker in attendance)
Canadian Premiere – Drama – 97 minutes
The film invents an international espionage thriller surrounding the real-life murder of Mahmoud al Mabhouh. Director Emmanuel Naccache’s story begins when the assassination makes headlines around the world and fingers are pointed at the Mossad, which hasn’t heard of any such assignment. Thus begins the exciting ride as the Mossad struggles with this puzzle. Naccache cleverly weaves a labyrinth of plot twists that keeps the action moving and the audience guessing. Featuring a French and Israeli all-star ensemble that includes Tomer Sisley, Lionel Abelanski and Bar Refaeli…
Thursday, May 8 at 8:30 PM at Famous Players Canada Square Cinemas and Saturday, May 10 at 9:15 PM at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Friends From France by Anne Weil & Philippe Kotlarski
Drama – 100 minutes
Set in Odessa at the height of the Cold War, this suspense-filled drama tells the story of two young Jews from France and their attempt to help ‘Refuseniks’—Jews persecuted by the Soviet regime for wanting to leave the country. Posing as a couple celebrating their recent engagement, Carole and Jérôme spend their nights secretly visiting Jews. With their risk of discovery increasing each night, it becomes clear that Carole is motivated by political commitment and a taste for risk, while Jérôme’s motivation is his desire for Carole. Featuring a strong international cast that includes French singer/actress Soko as well as Russian-Israelis Vladimir Friedman (Five Hours from Paris) and Ania Bukstein (The Secrets).
Monday, May 5 at 4:30 PM at Rom Eaton Theatre and Thursday, May 8 at 8:30 PM at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk
The Jewish Cardinal by Ilan Duran Cohen
Toronto Premiere – Drama – 90 minutes
Ilan Duran Cohen’s intriguing drama chronicles the life and impact of one of Catholicism’s most controversial figures, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger. Born to a Jewish immigrant family from Poland, Lustiger converted to Catholicism of his own accord at the age of thirteen, and eventually rose to prominence within the French, and later global, Catholic Church. Forcefully engaging with Pope Jean-Paul II on Jewish-Catholic relations and overseeing the disbanding of the Catholic Church’s monastic settlement in Auschwitz, Lustiger struggles to balance his identity as—how he terms it—“a fulfilled Jew.”.
Thursday, May 6 at 6:00 PM at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk and Thursday, May 8 at 1:00 PM at Rom Eaton Theatre
Like Brothers by Hugo Gélin
Toronto Premiere – Drama – 104 minutes
A box office hit in France and nominated for three César Awards (French Oscars), this bittersweet road movie centres on an unlikely trio who embark on a 500-mile road trip to fulfill their dear female friend Charlie’s dying wish. The three men share nothing in common except for their love of Charlie. The stars of For A Woman (also playing at this year’s festival)—Nicolas Duvauchelle and Mélanie Thierry—lead the wonderful cast, with the latter playing Charlie, whose story unfolds through touching flashbacks. Like Brothers also features gorgeous cinematography of the French countryside.
Monday, May 5 at 8:00 PM at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk and Thursday, May 8 at 3:30 PM at Rom Eaton Theatre
Cupcakes by Eytan Fox
Canadian Premiere – Comedy – 92 minutes
Award-winning filmmaker Eytan Fox (The Bubble, Walk on Water) returns with a delightful musical comedy that follows a group of Israelis who make a ritual out of the annual televised Eurovision-style song contest (similar to American Idol). While improvising a song to cheer up a friend, they are unwittingly chosen to represent Israel at the upcoming contest. These newcomers are suddenly forced to navigate the unscrupulous world of showbiz. The splendid cast—featuring Dana Ivgy (Jaffa) and Anat Waxman (Noodle)—is a joy to watch.
Wednesday, May 7 at 8:30 PM at Famous Players Canada Square Cinemas and Sunday, May 11 at 3:00 PM at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
It Happened in Saint-Tropez by Danièle Thompson
Toronto Premiere – Comedy – 100 minutes
Monica Belucci leads a dynamite ensemble cast in France’s answer to Four Weddings and a Funeral—but this time we’re in for a veritable chocolate box of familial complications. Roni and his brother Zef couldn’t be more different. Things only get worse when the funeral of Zef’s wife coincides with the wedding of Roni’s daughter. What follows is an unavoidable array of betrayals, infidelities, confrontations, and misunderstandings that take us from London to Paris, and New York to Saint Tropez.
Thursday, May 6 at 6:30 PM at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema and Thursday, May 8 at 5:15 PM at Famous Players Canada Square Cinemas
Where We Grew Up by Idit Cebula
Toronto Premiere – Comedy – 100 minutes
Richard Berry (Father’s Footsteps) and Emmanuelle Devos (The Other Son, TJFF 2013) star in this lovely family comedy from France. Three estranged siblings—Emma, Charles and Rosemonde—reunite at their mother’s funeral. Their return to their childhood home in Paris stirs reminiscences, but also buried rivalries and insecurities. For Emma however, this return home may also lead to romance. Filmmaker Idit Cebula offers an enjoyable mix of broad humour and touching drama.
Sunday, May 4 at 3:30 PM at Famous Players Canada Square Cinemas
From Hollywood to Nuremberg: John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens by Christian Delage
Toronto Premiere – Documentary – 53 minutes
During the war, Hollywood filmmakers John Ford and George Stevens worked with the U.S. Armed Forces and Secret Services, and shot footage that was used for newsreels and Academy Award®-winning documentaries. Meanwhile, Samuel Fuller was a young journalist and screenwriter who served as an infantryman while independently recording the war with a camera his mother sent him. Using private letters as well as rare—and often harrowing— footage from each director’s personal archives, filmmaker and historian Christian Delage (Nuremberg: The Nazis Facing Their Crimes, TJFF 2007) explores how these men used their knowledge of filmmaking to capture the realities of the battlefield and the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, and how the atrocities they witnessed would mark their future film work.
Wednesday, May 7 at 3:30 PM at Rom Eaton Theatre and Sunday, May at 4:30 PM at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk
We also recommend:
Natan by David Cairns & Paul Duane (David Cairns in attendance)
Canadian Premiere – Biography – 67 minutes
Bernard Natan was running France’s most successful production company, Pathé, in the 1920’s and 1930’s and was essentially one of the fathers of French cinema. Why has his name been completely erased from the history of cinema? Persecuted for his Romanian-Jewish heritage, Natan encountered fierce anti-semitism, and was defamed as a pornographer in what can be viewed as the film world’s Dreyfus Affair. Filmmakers David Cairns and Paul Duane investigate the rumours and falsehoods that have surrounded Natan’s story for decades.
Thursday, May 8 at 8:00 PM at Famous Players Canada Square Cinemas and Saturday, May 10 at 9:15 PM at Koffler House, University of Toronto.
For more information, go to the Toronto Jewish Film Festival website.