Press Releases

7th Annual Jewish Studies Film Festival October 10, 17 & 24

Date Released: 9/19/2007

Short films join full-length features this year as Purchase College presents its 7th Annual Jewish Studies Film Festival, October 10, 17 and 24 at 7:30 PM in the Humanities Theatre of the Durst Family Humanities Building. Tickets are $7, cash or check only, and can be purchased at the door. For more information, call 914-251-6516.

The film festival is co-sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program and Hillels of Westchester.

Purchase College, State University of New York, is located at 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, N.Y.

The festival opens on October 10 with the riveting personal documentary 51 Birch Street, which explores a universal human question—how much do you really want to know about your parents? Documentary filmmaker Doug Block had every reason to believe his parents’ 54-year marriage was a good one. But when his mother dies unexpectedly and his father swiftly marries his former secretary, he discovers two parents who are far more complex and troubled than he ever imagined. Rabbi Jonathan Blake, who appears in the film, will be the guest speaker.

On October 17, the short film Dark Night will be screened, followed by the feature film Blues by the Beach. In Dark Night, an Israeli military jeep, returning to base from patrol late at night, strikes a landmine while still in hostile territory. Two of the soldiers survive the blast only to be trapped in a Palestinian town teeming with militants. They seek refuge in the nearest house, inhabited by a Palestinian couple. As the night progresses, and the situation becomes more desperate, the soldiers discover something about the couple which may lead to a solution.

In Blues by the Beach, fate brings filmmakers together in Israel in April of 2003. They begin a documentary about a live music blues bar on the beachfront of Tel Aviv called Mike’s Place. Their aim is to show there is more to Israel than seemingly endless war and terrorism. But their filming people having a good time stops abruptly when harsh reality hits Mike’s Place and changes the course of their film.

The film festival closes on October 24 with screenings of the short Naturalized followed by the main feature Be Fruitful and Multiply. In Naturalized, a Russian immigrant to the United States wages a hilarious battle with his overbearing parents when he decides to undergo the ultimate rite of male Jewish identity.

How does it feel to have been pregnant or breastfeeding for most of your married life? This is one among many questions posed frankly in Be Fruitful and Multiply, which exposes the consequences of the biblical commandment—the mother of all Mitzvot—upon ultra-orthodox Jewish women, for whom life is a continuing cycle of pregnancy, childbirth, nursing and nurturing. The film profiles four ultra-orthodox women, in the U.S. and Israel, including a mother of 16 and a mother who limited her family size to 4. Be Fruitful and Multiply documents the women's daily routines and in separate interviews, the women discuss their lives, focusing on their belief in the traditional and distinctive roles for women and men as dictated by Jewish religion, as well as on the condition of perpetual motherhood as the “natural” and desirable state of being for women. This screening is co-sponsored by the Purchase College Gender Studies Program.