A Tree of Life – DOC NYC 2021

A Tree of Life is a must-watch documentary about the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, one of the worst antisemitic attacks in the US. October 27, 2018 is a date that the Jewish community will never forget. Eleven Jews–half of the people in the building–died that day. I found out about the act of hate while I was making my way to shul that morning. Over three years later, it’s a terrorist attack that none of…

"A Tree of Life – DOC NYC 2021"

We Burn Like This – Tallgrass 2021

For one young descendant of Holocaust survivors, trauma becomes real in Alana Waksman’s personal film, We Burn Like This. When Rae (Madeleine Coghlan) becomes a target of Neo-Nazis in Billings, Mont., the trauma her ancestors faced becomes all too real. Eventually, she hits her lowest and returns home. This is where Rae learns the truth about an accident during her childhood. Meanwhile, the rising antisemitism in Billings leads Rae on a journey in her own…

"We Burn Like This – Tallgrass 2021"

Where is Anne Frank – Animation is Film 2021

Where is Anne Frank works fine as a film but this one is geared more so for children than adults when it comes to Holocaust education. This film depicts Kitty (Ruby Stokes), the imaginary person that Anne Frank (Emily Carey) was writing to in her diary, coming to life in Amsterdam some 75 years after Anne was arrested and sent to her death. There are flashbacks to the past even though the film is set…

"Where is Anne Frank – Animation is Film 2021"

Mayor Pete – Chicago Film Fest 2021

Documentary filmmaker Jesse Moss brings audiences inside Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign in the new documentary, Mayor Pete. My first thought upon watching this film is that it’s amazing that Boys State was finishing up while Moss was hard at work on this film. But more than that, it shows the ins and outs of a presidential campaign. We get an inside look at the debate prep that comes with running for president. Getting elected to…

"Mayor Pete – Chicago Film Fest 2021"

18½ – Woodstock 2021

Slamdance co-founder/filmmaker Dan Mirvish and screenwriter Daniel Moya revisit the Richard Nixon years in their historical fiction film, 18½. Richard Nixon was one of the most paranoid presidents in American history. He recorded every word ever spoken in his office. And yet, we discovered an 18½-minute gap in the recordings. What was on the tape? Nixon secretary Rose Mary Woods is on the record as erasing the tape by accident. Is this truth or a…

"18½ – Woodstock 2021"

Marry Me However – Reeling Film Festival 2021

Marry Me However is a brief documentary about Orthodox men and women who have hidden their sexuality by entering cis-het marriages. Before I dive into the film, I want to address something first. Reeling labels the screening as the US premiere. However, I know for a fact that this is not true. This film has certainly screened virtually for 2021 Eshel National Retreat. Moreover, Eshel lists a number of previous U.S. festival screenings on its…

"Marry Me However – Reeling Film Festival 2021"

Burning – Toronto 2021

Eva Orner follows the devastating Australian wildfires in Burning and how the government is not willing to address the crisis at hand. The year 2020 brought a whole new meaning to the world being on fire. Heck, 2019 also saw several fires breakout in California. Here in the states, wind conditions brought hazy conditions to states that were nowhere near some of the recent fires. While the US was dealing with fires out west, Australia’s…

"Burning – Toronto 2021"

Charlotte – Toronto 2021

Charlotte may be a beautifully animated film but given the setting before and during the Holocaust, this film is emotionally intense. Please stay through the end of the credits. Charlotte Salomon (Keira Knightley in English, Marion Cotillard in French) is a German-Jewish artist with the unfortunate luck of growing up during World War II. Referred to as Lotte by her father and step-mother, she grew up in Berlin with dreams of being an artist. Against…

"Charlotte – Toronto 2021"

The Survivor – Toronto 2021

Ben Foster turns in a career-defining performance in Barry Levinson’s new film, The Survivor, based on the life of Harry Haft. While many perished at Auschwitz, Harry Haft (Ben Foster) found the will to survive. Not so much because of boxing for the Nazis’ amusement–including Nazi camp commander Dietrich Schneider (Billy Magnussen)–but because he wanted to reunite with his girlfriend, Leah (Dar Zuzovsky). If not for boxing, it’s doubtful Harry would have lived. But this…

"The Survivor – Toronto 2021"

Jagged – Toronto 2021

Jagged is a revealing documentary about singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette and focuses on her Jagged Little Pill years. While Morrissette opens up about some of the years that followed, this film is really about her early years. The same years that gave us such hits as “You Oughta Know,” “Hand in My Pocket,” and “Ironic.” If you are wondering, audiences don’t find out who “You Oughta Know” is about either. Chances are likely that we’ll never…

"Jagged – Toronto 2021"