Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 1/5/19
Monday, February 10th through February 27th
The 2020 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) is proud to announce the Opening Night, Young Professionals Night, and Closing Night film selections to be featured at its 20th annual festival, which returns from February 10 through February 27.
Announced first by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the 20th anniversary of the festival kicks off on Monday, February 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre with the World Premiere of Shared Legacies: The African-American Jewish Civil Rights Alliance. Revisiting and reviving the legacy of Black-Jewish cooperation during the Civil Rights era, this powerful documentary focuses on a proud chapter of American social justice, in which two communities joined forces in the name of racial equality, while acknowledging their shared history of hardship. Pivotal events come alive through a treasure trove of archival materials, narrated by eyewitnesses, activists, Holocaust survivors, and leaders of the movement, including prominent Atlantans such as Congressman John Lewis, Amb. Andrew Young, Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, Rabbi Peter S. Berg, Martin Luther King III, and many others. Opening Night general admission tickets are available for $36 and include complimentary parking as well as the screening and post-film Q&A.
On Saturday, February 15 at the Woodruff Arts Center, AJFF will feature the buddy comedy Standing Up, Falling Down at Young Professionals Night, presented by ACCESS, the young leadership division of American Jewish Committee. Starring Emmy-winner Ben Schwartz and comedy legend Billy Crystal, the film follows an aspiring stand-up comic after he is forced to move back to his hometown. An unexpected friendship across generations leads them to confront their own regrets and failures. The evening begins with a pre-screening party at 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by the film at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $36 and include the party and screening.
The 20th festival closes out with a touching screening of Saul & Ruby, To Life! on Thursday, February 27, at 7:00 p.m. at the Byers Theater of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. The film follows Holocaust survivors, Saul and Ruby, who find a new purpose in life. They use the power of music to share their stories and promote peace in a world that is as tumultuous as ever. The Holocaust Survivor Band, featuring Saul and Ruby, will treat moviegoers to a post-screening performance. Tickets are $36 and include complimentary parking, the screening, a post-film Q&A and performance, plus a dessert reception.
Audiences can expect diverse films from this showcase of international cinema. A first look at what to expect in this year’s lineup was recently announced, and is available here. The preview includes the following seven films: Aulcie, Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn, Crescendo, The Glass Room, Golda, No Pork on the Fork, and The Mamboniks. The full lineup and official schedule, along with the release of program guides, will be announced on Friday, January 10. Tickets go on sale via AJFF.org beginning Monday, January 27. Tickets for the festival are $16 for General Admission and $14 for Seniors/Students/Children.
Full descriptions of Opening Night, Young Professionals Night, and Closing Night films are below:
Shared Legacies: The African-American Jewish Civil Rights Alliance
Documentary • USA • 93 minutes
The crucial historical lessons of Black-Jewish cooperation are revisited and revived in this utterly fascinating, urgent call to action. The modern alliance between African-Americans and Jewish Americans dates to the NAACP founding in 1909. Since then, both groups have endured segregation and racism, from the codified bigotry of southern Jim Crow laws, to blatant bias in real estate, employment, higher education and politics. Common cause was found in the turbulent ‘60s Civil Rights era, as Jewish leaders backed Dr. King’s efforts at racial equality and harmony. Yet, the relationship has frayed in recent years, as a once mighty bond of support and respect has seemingly faded, been forgotten or ignored.
Pivotal events come alive through a treasure trove of archival materials, narrated by eyewitnesses, activists, Holocaust survivors, and leaders of the movement, including prominent Atlantans such as Congressman John Lewis, Amb. Andrew Young, Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, Rabbi Peter S. Berg, Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr., members of the King family, and many others. With divisive seeds of hate taking root anew in the American landscape, a new generation also affirms their pledge to actively promote the values of social justice. This potent, inspiring story of unity, empathy and partnership validates the ubiquity of the human experience, and how freedom and equality for all can be achieved only when people come together.
Standing Up, Falling Down
Narrative • USA • 91 minutes
Emmy-winner Ben Schwartz (NBC’s Parks and Recreation) and the legendary Billy Crystal, topline this bittersweet, warmly funny buddy comedy about an unlikely intergenerational friendship between a struggling stand-up comic and an older, disillusioned barfly. After years of trying and failing to break into the Los Angeles comedy scene, thirty-something Scott (Schwartz) reluctantly moves back in with his parents (Kevin Dunn and Debra Monk) on Long Island, tail between his legs. Wracked with self-doubt and panicked at the prospect of having to get a soul-crushing “real” job, he soon realizes that life did not stand still without him. Not only have all his friends moved on to start families of their own, he must face unresolved emotions toward his hometown ex-girlfriend, Becky (Eloise Mumford), now happily married. But he encounters a surprising kindred spirit in Marty (Crystal, playing decidedly against type), a larger-than-life, charming but desperately lonely dermatologist obsessed with karaoke and swigging away his troubles every night at the local bar. Before long, the two drinking buddies form a real bond over their shared feelings of loss, remorse and inadequacy. As Scott works to overcome his fear of pursuing his dreams and returning to the stage, together they find the strength to address their long festering regrets. Buoyed by the easy-going chemistry between Schwartz and Crystal, and powered by a top-notch supporting cast that includes Grace Gummer and Nate Corddry, the simple pleasures of this heart-and-soul comedy are a reminder that redemption can be found in the unlikeliest of places.
Saul & Ruby, To Life!
Documentary • USA • 81 minutes
An inseparable pair of sprightly Holocaust survivors brings their tuneful call for peace and healing from assisted living facilities in Florida to the world stage, in this uniquely uplifting tribute to the human spirit. Launching a late-in-life musical career from total obscurity, Saul Dreier was 89 when he picked up drumsticks and founded the Holocaust Survivor Band. Everyone, including his wife and rabbi, thought he was crazy. But Saul had a dream: to share the music that sustained him during his internment in concentration camps. Along with accordion player Ruby Sosnowicz, the klezmer duo performed in Jewish community and retirement centers around Florida, laying on the charm with small but enthusiastic audiences. With their joyful sound and infectious love of living, Saul and Ruby soon took their music, their stories, and their message of strength and friendship to larger venues across the country. With anti-Semitic rhetoric on the rise, Saul and Ruby wanted their untrained voices to be heard more than ever. So they set about making an enduring vision come true: to bring their music back to where both men suffered painful loss, their birthplace of Poland, to honor their own families and the countess other mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who suffered and died there. Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning documentarian Tod Lending expertly weaves comedy and tragedy in this charming, poignant and, above all, affirmative celebration of family, friendship, heartache, resilience and hope.
For additional information, visit AJFF.org.