Boston Jewish Film Festival celebrates 25 years


one with an insatiable movie appetite, the Boston
Jewish Film
Festival is manna
from heaven. This
year marks BJFF’s 25th anniversary –
a milestone for any film festival, let alone a niche one.

Jaymie Saks, executive director since 2009, and Amy Geller, artistic director since 2011, are BJFF’s operational and creative leaders. They are proud of BJFF’s longevity.

“In these times when funding is being cut and festivals come and go, the fact that we’re around is a testament to the work we do and to the community that supports it,” Saks said.

Part of the reason the Boston Jewish Film Festival is so successful is the diversity of films screened each year.

“There are so many ways to explore and celebrate being Jewish,” Geller explained. “If you go to 10 different movies at the BJFF, you may see your history represented, but maybe you’ll [also] see the experiences of other people that are different.”

Both believe the discussions and sense of community the Festival fosters are important attractors. Saks and Geller are especially interested in broadening programming for young adults and professionals.

“Fresh Flix: Not Your Bubbe’s Festival” is a program within the BJFF geared to young adults. Launched in 2011, it has been hugely successful. The excitement it generated led CJP’s (Combined Jewish Philanthropies) Young Adult Division to contact the Festival and offer collaboration and support. “Fresh Flix” features a short film competition, director Q&A’s, a midnight show, and pre- and post-screening meetups.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to build off the magic we all experienced at last year’s short film competition,”Geller said.

The women predict that newtechnology will have a major impact on how people experience film in the future.

“I think there will be a radical transformation in what we now think of as watching film,” Saks said. “Audience involvement will change from [simply] viewing a movie, to one where viewers become participants.”

Despite cyber advances, Geller believes people will still want to come together to watch cutting edge films in theaters and participate in live discussions. “I see how film can impact people. I see that there are people who really care about that sense of community,” she said.

Highlights of the BJFF

The BJFF will screen more than 48 independent, full-length, short, fictional and documentary films in 12 locations from November 6-18.

Highly Recommended:

“Aya,” “Big Bad Wolves” and “Bethlehem” won 2013 Ophirs, the Israeli Oscar. “Bethlehem” will be Israel’s submission to the American Oscars.

“Stories from Israel” is a trio of Israeli
 films made by and about women. “El
Gusto” is a charming and educational
documentary about an Algerian orchestra of Jews and Muslims.

“Sukkah City” is a documentary about 12 contemporary architects and designers who construct personalized, artistic sukkot in New York’s Union Square (See “Sukkah City experience … ” in the August 30 issue of The Jewish Voice), and the riveting “Generation War” is a television miniseries about the effects WWII had on five young German adults.

North Shore Screenings:

On November 12, Cinema Salem will show “The Dewey Stone Connection,” a saga about Brockton native and Zionist philanthropist Dewey Stone, and “Ben Gurion Hosting,” an animated biography of Ben-Gurion by the creators of “Waltz with Bashir.”

On November 18, Hollywood Hits in Danvers will screen “One Small Hitch,” an engaging romantic comedy.

Editor’s note: Shelley A. Sackett ( is a Providence native residing on Boston’s North Shore. This article originally appeared in the Jewish Journal, Mass., and is reprinted with permission.