The Miami Jewish Film Festival: Ethiopians on the Run, Jews in Cuba, and Lesson Number One: "Be Nice to Your Mother"

Categories: Film and TV
MJFF 400 Miles to Freedom.jpg
courtesy of Miami Jewish Film Festival
from 400 Miles to Freedom
All that television and rap music? Your mother worries you're not seeing enough movies. Fortunately, the 2013 Miami Jewish Film Festival kicks off on Saturday, January 26, and the schedule is more packed with goodness than your stomach after a weekend at home. Cultist spoke with festival director Ellen Wedner about some of this year's highlights. (Speaking of which, would it kill you to call home once in a while?)

"There was an old ad slogan in New York for Levy's rye bread," Wedner told us. "It was: 'You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's.' Well, you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy these films. You don't have to be one thing or another."

Like most film festivals, there are entries from around the world, but if you're expecting two dozen films featuring Jackie Mason complaining on benches in various world capitals, then you are mistaken, boychick.

MJFF Aliyah.jpg
courtesy of Miami Jewish Film Festival
from Aliyah
At venues across Miami, the MJFF will screen films as disparate as 400 Miles to Freedom, a tense documentary about African Jews fleeing a dictatorship in Ethiopia; Divorce Invitation, a romantic comedy starring Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Lainie Kazan and Eliot Gould; and The Third Half, this year's Academy Award submission from Macedonia.

"You'd be shocked by how many films I get from Macedonia," Wedner said. In her festival, place has little to do with a film's Jewish qualities.

"Last year we had an animated film from China and it was very Jewish. I hope I always have them from the U.S., Spain and France. But this year we have The First Fagin, from Tasmania and it's about the real life person they think Charles Dickens modeled Fagin on."

But this isn't just any old Jewish Film Festival. This is the Miami Jewish Film Festival. Wedner wants her festival to reflect its setting.

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