First annual Jewish Film Festival to kick off this weekend

| Movie Editor

Editor’s Note: The original version of this article stated that Washington University Foreign Policy Engagement would be one of the groups involved in the post-film discussion. This will not be the case. Student Life regrets the error.

Organized by an independent group led by sophomore Ari Allen, this weekend’s Jewish Film Festival is designed to provide cultural programming for Jewish students who are less interested in religious programs.

Allen said, “Looking at what the Jewish community lacked, we wanted programming that wouldn’t turn away people who are atheist or questioning their theological beliefs.”

The festival will be kicked off with hors d’oeuvres at the Hillel House at 6 p.m. Saturday. Immediately following at 7 p.m. is the first film screening in Brown room 100: “A Serious Man.” The 2009 film by the Coen brothers stars Michael Stuhlbarg as Larry Gopnik, a Jewish professor who struggles with faith and his family. Although not one of the Coen brothers’ most well-known movies, it still shows their distinct style and black humor. “We wanted a fun kickoff movie for Saturday night that still had Jewish themes and characters,” Allen said.

Two films will be shown on Sunday: “Trembling Before G-d” and “The Attack,” along with discussions following both films. The day begins at 11 a.m. with “Trembling Before G-d,” a 2001 documentary that looks at the struggle between faith and orientation for gay Orthodox Jews around the world. “We wanted to pick a movie for Sunday that has universal themes, that people who aren’t Jewish could connect to still,” Allen said. Pride Alliance will help lead the discussion following the movie in a chance to talk about this timely issue through a Jewish lens, according to Allen.

“The Attack,” which will be shown at 4 p.m. Sunday, is a 2012 drama that follows an Arab doctor living in Israel whose life is devastated when his wife commits a suicide bomb attack. The post-film discussion will include students from J Street U, Washington University Students for Israel and Washington University Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Even though the event is called the Jewish Film Festival, Allen said that “it is open to all students no matter their religion or theological beliefs, and we’re trying to create a pluralistic audience, and hopefully everyone can learn from everyone else.”