Women have been rockin’ the J’s film program lately! First, Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to visit a couple of weeks ago. It’s not every day that we have a Supreme Court justice here, on stage, for any reason. Justice Ginsberg – most gracious, thoughtful and displaying a keen sense of humor – was part of a panel talking about Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, another award-winning film by our very own star filmmaker, Aviva Kempner. The Justice appears in the film and came to share with the sold-out audience her thoughts and memories of the Goldbergs on radio and tv. She recalled her own family and childhood growing up in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood. The event was a special program and party to celebrate the DVD release of Aviva’s film, which is about yet another groundbreaking woman, Gertrude Berg.
One young woman in the audience, Robin Janofsky, was inspired after the Q&A to confess that she had “a life-changing moment” right in our theater! Robin asked the Justice what advice she would give to young women today. “Have confidence in yourself…work hard to make your dream come true,” Justice Ginsburg answered. “There has not been a better time in history for young women than now.”
From the audience, CBS News reporter Dan Raviv asked if a program like the Goldbergs on radio and tv contributed to acceptance of Jews in the US. Justice Ginsburg explained that she views the program as part of the universality of the immigrant experience. “Italian and Irish families could also related as could all families coming to a new world…hoping their children could achieve and not lose their own identities.”
And we’re not done yet. This week mother-and-business-woman-turned-filmmaker Vicki Abeles brought the DC premiere of her new film Race to Nowhere to our WJFF Year-Round screen. The film is a powerful and provocative exploration of our pressure-cooker educational system and its too often destructive effect on children and families.
The discussion with Vicki after the film was serious, heartfelt and enlightening. Parents asked how they can help their kids, even those as young as pre-school. Speaking from the audience were principals of two alternative DC schools as well as teachers from DC, VA and MD – sharing their reactions to the film and their own experiences as educators. Some had questions and some wanted to support Vicki’s call for grass-roots action to make changes in the US educational system. One teacher, for example, expressed the desire to show the film to the as yet un-named new superintendent of the Montgomery County schools in the hope of helping the county schools move away from the emphasis on testing. For those of you who missed it, Vicki and the film will be at the Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema again on Monday, October 4.
On last thing…if you want to see a lovely film, head to Nora’s Will which is going into an extended run at the Avalon. The WJFF sponsored its screening at Filmfest DC last April. The film won 7 Mexican Academy Awards including Best Picture, and now Michael O’Sullivan in the Washington Post called it “sweet, surprising and satisfying.”
Now it’s time for me to get back to planning the 21st Washington Jewish Film Festival. Just wait until you hear what’s coming this December 2012!! More news soon. In the meantime, tickets are on sale for our next film program on October 18 – Sayed Kashua: Forever Scared plus one episode of this incredible author’s groundbreaking Israeli tv series, Arab Labor.
Susan Barocas, WJFF Director