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Film & DVD

Central Florida Jewish Film Festival expands to three days

Enzian’s 15th annual celebration of Jewish films and culture expands its offerings

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Photo: , License: N/A

'The Attack'


Saturday-Monday, Nov. 16-18 | Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland | 407-629-0054 | enzian.org | $10-$70

This year’s Central Florida Jewish Film Festival will be the largest and longest in the 15-year history of the event, screening five features instead of the usual four and opening on Saturday instead of Sunday – but just after sundown, to honor Sabbath restrictions. The event will also expand beyond Enzian Theater for the first time, to the Orlando Science Center.

“Science Center got involved because the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando got involved, and they’ve been doing quarterly screenings at the Science Center of recent Israeli films,” says Matthew Curtis, Enzian programming director. “We’d been talking about how we can expand, because obviously Enzian is a single screen and it’s challenging … to bump a Saturday-night show at Enzian … but going outside of the venue and doing it off-site was an inspired idea.”

Though the festival contains no shorts this time, all five features – whittled down from more than 60 potential films – are worth seeing.

“We’ve got a pretty wonderful balance of three narrative features [and] two doc features,” Curtis says. “We’ve got some lighter stuff and some heavier stuff, and we just thought … this is a nice mix.”

The food options are expanding this year, too. Although the themed menu will be available only inside the Enzian during screenings – not at Eden Bar or the Science Center – it’ll still be impressive enough to draw both Jewish and gentile foodies. There will be Hebrew National kosher hot dogs and homemade dishes such as potato knishes, latkes and apricot-raisin ice cream. For something a bit rarer, try tzimmes, a traditional stew of vegetables and dried fruit.

★★★ (out of 5 stars)

A road-trip movie unlike any you’ve seen before, Zaytoun (7:30 p.m. Saturday, Orlando Science Center) tells of the unlikely pairing of an Israeli pilot (Stephen Dorff) and an orphaned Palestinian refugee (Abdallah El Akal) during the 1982 war between Lebanon and Israel. The pilot has been shot down in Beirut, while the 12-year-old boy longs to return to his ancestral village in Israel, if only long enough to plant a zaytoun (Arabic for olive) tree that he and his father nurtured together. The two slowly realize that their journey will succeed only if they stick together.

A British-French-Israeli production directed by Eran Riklis (Lemon Tree) in English, Arabic and Hebrew, Zaytoun is noble in concept and tone but often lacks urgency. Shot well and with a lot to say about cooperation and humanity, it nevertheless isn’t as memorable as the festival’s other narrative features, perhaps because the pair’s journey from Beirut to Israel, though balanced fairly well between comedy and drama, feels too brief, too forgettable.

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