Beth-El’s annual film fest features moving documentaries


This year’s Joanne Forman Film Festival highlights resilient people and their remarkable stories.

For the past 18 years, the Sisterhood of Temple Beth-El has presented the film festival on three consecutive Sundays. Originally co-chaired by Joanne Forman, the popular festival is now named in her memory.

This year, “we picked a festival of films that portray people who have survived and thrived and created wonderful things for themselves,” said current festival chair Ellen Silverman.

“These are hopeful films of people who have overcome adversity.”

The festival, which began on March 31, continues on Sunday, April 7, with “The Last Suit.” The film focuses on an 88-year-old tailor who rejects his children’s attempts to move him into a nursing home and instead embarks on a journey to find the man who saved him from the Holocaust. The post-film discussion leader is Rhode Islander Ada Winsten, a clinical social worker who often speaks about her post-Holocaust journey.

The final film in this year’s series will be screened on Sunday, April 14. “Big Sonia” is a moving documentary featuring 91-year-old Sonia, a Holocaust survivor who handles the adversities in her life with dignity, humor and resilience. Mike Fink, a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design and a columnist for Jewish Rhode Island, will lead the post-film discussion.

All films screen at 2 p.m. in the Meeting Hall of Temple Beth-El, 70 Orchard Ave., Providence. Admission is free and refreshments are included. For more information, call Temple Beth-El at 401-331-6070.

FRAN OSTENDORF ( is editor of Jewish Rhode Island.