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Comedies, dramas at 13th Jewish film festival (con't)

The yearly schedule focuses on films about the Jewish experience and many over the years have dealt with topics like the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And while many of these films are exceptional and award winning festival organizers wanted to throw more comedies into the mix.

But it was difficult coming up with them.

Aren’t some of the world’s greatest comedians Jewish?

True, says Selby, and the organizing committee searched for films about them.

“There’s some documentaries about Jewish comedians but we didn’t select those because after seeing them they weren’t that funny,” Selby ironically notes.

But the committee did come up with two comedies for this year’s line-up, and they both look like hoots.

One is Hunting Elephants (picture above left) starring Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame.

It’s about a group of old timers in a retirement home.

They’re veterans of the Israeli underground, a group whose activities date back to the 1940s and helped forge the modern state of Israel.

Using their old combat skills they set up a heist to avenge a wrongdoing done to a 12-year-old’s father.

“I found it really funny despite the fact that it really employs a lot of old folks’ stereotypical stuff,” Selby says noting he himself is of said age.

But, he adds, “it’s just not stupid stuff, there’s a family story in it.”

Another comedy is Serial (Bad) Weddings, last year’ French box office hit.

The movie plays on unjust racial stereotypes and fitting comeuppance for misdeeds, and showing that no one race has a monopoly on prejudice.

This year’s opening night film is 24 Days, poignant in light of the Charlie Hebdo massacre earlier this year in France.

It’s a thriller based on a true story of a kidnapping of a young Jewish man in a Parisian suburb.

“It’s partly a police procedural and its partly a family story,” Selby says.

The kidnappers targeted Ilan Halimi because he was Jewish and “if he’s Jewish he must be rich,” says Selby.

Other films at the festival include Defiant Requiem, about an upcoming Czech composer during World War II, himself a prisoner, who led a death camp classical chorus performing among other music Verdi’s Requiem.

There’s also the charming 1975 Hester Street, staring Carol Kane, about the New York Lower East Side Jewish immigrant experience.

The festival features 10 movies altogether.

Following opening night, films will be shown at 2, 5 and 8 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

For more information to the Jewish Community Centre’s website 

Tickets to all films are available at the WJCC, 1641 Ouellette Avenue, (519-973-1772) and at the cinema’s festival desk before each performance ($10 cash).

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