From Hollywood to Bollywood, the 2019 Carmel Jewish Film Festival is bringing stories of the Jewish experience from across the world to the Monterey Peninsula.
The March 2-17 festival will screen documentaries that span the globe, from “Bombshell,” the story of how movie star Hedy Lamarr invented an encrypted radio system to help the Allies bomb German U-boats, to “Shalom Bollywood,” about the Jewish women who were stars in the early Hindi film industry. One film even dives under the sea: “Picture of His Life,” about Israeli artist and explorer Amos Nachoum, known for his daring underwater photography.
Other documentaries offer insights into formative Jewish figures in world culture. “Carl Laemmle” tells of the German Jewish founder of Universal Pictures; his grand-nephew Greg Laemmle will be at a postfilm Q&A. “Itzhak” is the award-winning depiction of the life and art of the great violinist Itzhak Perlman.
But feature films aren’t neglected. “The Last Suit” is about an octogenarian tailor who returns to his native Poland from Argentina to find his erstwhile wartime savior — and possibly love. The French film “A Bag of Marbles” depicts the courage of two young boys during the German invasion of their country. And “An Act of Defiance” dramatizes the life of South African Jewish lawyer Bram Fischer, who defended Nelson Mandela during the apartheid regime.
There’s also an evening of short films from the U.S., U.K. and Israel, and a number of special events.
For the first time since it began nine years ago, the festival will feature a scholar-in-residence: Roberta Grossman, whose “Hava Nagila: The Movie” played at the festival in 2013. In two presentations preceding the festival, on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2 at Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel, she will discuss her body of work and her latest film. “Who Will Write Our History” tells the story of a group of Jews, led by the Polish historian Emanuel Ringelbum, who secretly documented life in the Warsaw Ghetto. See the website for dates, times and locations of all films and events.