Film & DVD
Central Florida Jewish Film Festival expands to three days
Enzian’s 15th annual celebration of Jewish films and culture expands its offerings
Published: November 13, 2013
What does stick with you is the theme of the olive branch, which is extended between Jew and Arab both literally and metaphorically, making Zaytoun, despite its shortcomings, a worthy addition to the lineup.
When Comedy Went To School
★★★ (out of 5 stars)
Ever heard the one about the Jewish comedian who got his start in the Catskills? Chances are if you haven’t seen When Comedy Went to School (11 a.m. Sunday, Enzian), you haven’t heard the full story.
The lone American film among the five selections, this documentary offers a glimpse into the history of Jewish-American comedy, from the days of vaudeville to the transition to modern stand-up. It also reveals a bygone era, a more innocent time when the resorts of New York’s Catskill Mountains were the nation’s top summer travel destination and a training ground for comedians. And the best part is that this world is brought back to life by legends such as Jerry Lewis, Jerry Stiller, Sid Caesar and Jackie Mason, not to mention countless clips of everyone from Woody Allen to Rodney Dangerfield.
“You had to have a sense of humor, for Christ’s sake. That’s what got the Jews through it,” says Lewis. “It was our salvation, and it was our understanding that we’ll get through if it we’re not too terribly serious.”
Although simultaneously funny, touching and informative, the film too often plays like a TV special thanks to bad writing, an overbearing score, unnecessary re-enactments and heavy-handed narration by Robert Klein. Still, Comedy, though the weakest of the five movies, is a nice counterbalance to the more serious festival fare.
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)
The town of Jedwabne, Poland, kept a horrible secret for 60 years. Until Polish historian Jan Gross revealed the truth in his 2001 book, Neighbors, the townspeople were silent about their wartime past. As controversial as the book was, writer-director Wladyslaw Pasikowski’s Aftermath (1:30 p.m. Sunday, Enzian), which is getting its Southeast premiere at the festival, may be even more incendiary, as it introduces elements of fiction while turning the story into a tense, twisty thriller.
The film focuses on two fictional brothers, one who lived in the town his entire life and one who moved to America. The American brother has now returned to check up on his sibling, who has mysteriously become the village outcast.
Aftermath is better when you know little in advance, and you’ll get no spoilers here, other than to reveal that reaction to the movie has been so strong that Maciej Stuhr, who plays the Polish brother, has been subjected to the same racial abuse as his character. People have called him “a Jew, and not a Pole anymore,” and have even threatened his life. Intrigued? You should be, and you won’t be disappointed, as the film is the best of the festival.
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