The Boulder Jewish Film Festival


Save the date for the 2020 Boulder Jewish Film Festival

March 4 - 15, 2020

Stay tuned for more details in the Fall. In the meantime, take a look at the 2019 Film Festival lineup.

Opening Night

“It Must Schwing: The Blue Note Story” tells the moving story of two German Jewish refugees who founded Blue Note Records in 1939 and for the next 30 years recorded and befriended all the jazz greats they had idolized back in Germany – where jazz was banned. This musical homage to the harmonizing influence of music details an era when an African-American and Jewish alliance confronted racism in America and changed musical history. Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, and Quincy Jones express their admiration, gratitude, and love for visionaries Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, remembering how, as ostracized musicians, they were treated with dignity and humanity by two men who had narrowly escaped the Holocaust to fight for their equality in America. A jazz reception precedes the screening at 6 pm. Appetizers and Cash Bar.



Changing the way people see Israel and Judaism is the mission of Raphael Shore, who will be honored with a three-film tribute program. A Canadian-Israeli filmmaker, Shore is the founder of Jerusalem U, dedicated to connecting viewers emotionally with the Jewish homeland. His new film about Israel’s innovative solutions to water shortages, “Sustainable Nation,” will be shown Sunday, March 10. “Mekonen: The Journey of an African Jew,” and “When the Smoke Clears: A Story of Brotherhood, Resilience and Hope” will be shown Monday, March 11, with Shore in attendance.


Join Women of the J on Tuesday, March 12 for a special screening of “Love, Gilda,” an acclaimed new documentary about Gilda Radner’s brilliant comedy, ebullient personality, marriage to Gene Wilder, and tragic death from cancer at 43. Pre-reception in the Dairy Arts Center Gallery.


Yehudis Fishman will be honored at the annual Boulder Jewish Film Festival Centerpiece, which features a screening of “93Queen,” the inspiring new documentary about Ruchie Freier, an Orthodox force of nature who has triumphed over male opposition to achieve her goals.



Closing night at the Dairy on March 17 takes viewers back to the glory days of Latin music in America, when urban Jews went wild for the exotic rhythms of tropical lands. “The Mamboniks” revels in those heady days when Jewish and Latino dancers mingled on the dance floors of Miami Beach, the Catskills, and Havana – and pays tribute to a handful of irrepressible seniors still crazy for mambo! Followed by a mambo dance party. 



It Must Schwing: The Blue Note Story 

Thursday, March 7 | Jazz Reception at 6 pm, Screening at 7 pm | At the Boulder JCC


With ears uniquely attuned to jazz and hearts open to all musicians, two German-Jewish Holocaust  refugees popularized American jazz by founding the seminal Blue Note Records label.

This homage to the harmonizing influence of music details an era when an African American- Jewish alliance confronted racism in America and changed musical history. Arriving in New York penniless immigrants, Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff created what remains the definitive jazz label in 1939, and for the next 30 years recorded and befriended all the jazz greats they had idolized back in Germany – where the jazz they loved was banned by Hitler. Also a moving musical biography, the star-studded film features Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, and Quincy Jones, who express their admiration, gratitude, and love for two true visionaries, remembering how, as ostracized musicians, they were treated with dignity and humanity by refugees who had narrowly escaped the Holocaust to fight for equality in America.



Friday, March 8 | 1 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

Friday, March 15 | 12 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

A charismatic literature teacher and a strict, working-class father vie for influence over an Israeli teenager, who finds himself torn between the two very different role models.

A likeable but impulsive teen troublemaker with obvious anger management issues, Asher is a good kid who clearly needs guidance. But from where will his help come? From his loving but strict working- class father, or from the sensitive teacher who imagines a brighter future for Asher than his father’s scaffolding business? In his feature debut, Israeli writer-director Matan Yair draws on his experience as a high school history and literature teacher for pupils rejected from normal academic classrooms. Here he shows his compassion for kids from blue collar, Sephardic families who face harsh realities on their way to becoming adults. Nominated for best picture Ophir (Israeli Oscar).


The Interpreter

Friday, March 8 | 3:30 pm | At the Boedecker Theater | SOLD OUT

Tuesday, March 12 | 1 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

Sunday, March 17 | 10 am | At the Boedecker Theater

Oscillating between comedy and tragedy, this odd-couple road movie finds two aging men looking for closure from the Holocaust through an unlikely friendship.

An elderly Holocaust survivor played by Jiří Menzel (famed Czech director of “Closely Watched Trains”), clumsily armed with a handgun, arrives at the apartment of a former SS officer he believes responsible for the murder of his parents. Instead, he finds the Nazi he seeks is long dead, but his son is very much alive. Georg is a roguish bon vivant superbly played by Peter Simonischek (“Toni Erdmann”). Bound by their terrible, intertwined legacy, the two strangers are left to ponder which is worse: to be the son of the victim or the son of the perpetrator. Director Martin Sulik performs a deft balancing act in this slyly amusing comedy with moral heft. The moral reckoning at the film’s heart may be left unresolved, but “The Interpreter” is deeply satisfying.

“A Tragicomic Road Movie of Remembrance” - Variety



Saturday, March 9 | 7:30 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

Rescheduled information coming soon

As a young Israeli couple build their dream home, the foundation of their marriage begins to crumble, challenging them to find the true meaning of home and to focus on the challenge of building a life together.

At what exact moment in life do we grow up? When we marry, have a child, build a house? Or is growing up a process that continues, painfully, throughout marriage and parenthood? Gilli and Yarra’s young marriage is strained by the construction of a new home in the Galilee, forcing them to cope with issues of maturity, identity, and honesty. A universal love story with a uniquely Israeli setting, “Outdoors” feels fresh and breezy, reminding us to be careful what we wish for. Noa Koler, who closed last year’s festival as the infectiously optimistic would-be bride of “The Wedding Plan,” again displays her charisma in this deceptively low-key domestic drama from director Asaf Saban, who uses landscape and architecture to express volumes.


Heading Home: Team Israel 

Sunday, March 10 | 11 am | At the Boedecker Theater

Sunday, March 10 | 1:30 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

This stirring story of sports, patriotism, and personal growth charts the underdog journey of Israel's national baseball team competing for the first time in the World Baseball Classic.

Ranked 41st in the world, and compared by ESPN to the Jamaican bobsled team, Team Israel was dismissed as a group of “has-beens and never-will-be’s.” But as they represented Israel on the world stage, with their Mensch on the Bench mascot by their side, a miracle occurred. Off the field, the American-born players who had only the most tenuous connection to their heritage emerge victorious as proudly Jewish. Pitcher Josh Zeid, whose Saturdays have been spent on the field instead of in shul, says, “Baseball kinda took me away, and now it’s bringing me back.”


Sustainable Nation

Sunday, March 10 | 7 pm | At the Gordon Gamm Theater

Discover how three Israeli innovators are taking valuable lessons learned in water-poor Israel to bring clean, safe water to millions of people around the world - from using plants to clean waste water to a computer system that monitors moisture in trees.

Using solutions developed in Israel, three individuals are doing their part to bring sustainable water solutions to an increasingly thirsty planet - from using plants to clean waste water to a computer system that monitors moisture in trees. They are working to change the status quo of a world where one in 10 people lack access to safe drinking water. But water is just the beginning. The work of this visionary trio highlights the nexus between food, energy, and water, and underscores how solving these enormous challenges can help free women, and the world, from life threatening poverty, illness, and lack of opportunity.


When the Smoke Clears:

A Story of Brotherhood, Resilience and Hope 

Monday, March 11 | 1:30 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

Young Israeli soldiers whose injuries leave them fighting for the strength to live finding meaning by reaching out to those in need, discovering that what didn’t kill them really did make them stronger.

Gil, Ofer, and Elad are young war veterans whose unthinkable battle experiences leave them with life-altering mental and physical scars. Returning to society, their trauma disconnects them from all they once valued, turning their lives upside down. When all seems lost, a revolutionary idea gives them the hope, courage, tools, and community to survive - transforming them into heroes in their own lives and in the lives of those around them. Banding together in a family of wounded soldiers, they learn to face their obstacles together and discover that in conquering their pain, they might have more to offer than ever before. Following this band of brothers during the darkest times of their lives, director Rebecca Shore proves that massive growth and healing can come through giving to others.


Mekonen: The Journey of an African Jew 

Monday, March 11 | 4 pm | At the Boedecker Theater | SOLD OUT

Once a young shepherd in Africa and now a commander in the Israeli Defense Forces, Mekonen strives to find his place as an African-Israeli Jew defending his new homeland and its liberal values of democracy, freedom, and equality.

Mekonen Abebe, a young African-Israeli Jew, is one of many brave young men and women drafted into compulsory service in the IDF. Born and raised in an Ethiopian village, Mekonen was a 12-year-old shepherd when his father died suddenly, less than a day before his family was to move to Israel. After a difficult adjustment period in Israel, Mekonen was fortunate to attend the Hodayot High School, which educates children from troubled backgrounds and helps integrate them into Israeli society. The uplifting and inspiring film accompanies Mekonen back to Africa on an emotional journey. He explores his roots, makes peace with his past and embraces his future in Israel. Mekonen becomes a decorated officer in the IDF, while staying true to his Ethiopian roots and culture.


Who Will Write Our History 

Monday, March 11 | 6:30 pm | At the Gordon Gamm Theater

Producer Nancy Spielberg and director Roberta Grossman, the team behind “Above and Beyond” (BJFF 2016), return with an inspirational story of humanity and heroism in the Warsaw Ghetto.

“Will the Germans write our history, or will we?” That was the question Emanuel Ringelblum posed to the 60 members of the Oyneg Shabes group, persuading them to leave behind a record of their unimaginable life in the Warsaw Ghetto. Indeed, the resulting collection of photographs, diary entries, smuggling accounts, newspapers, and Nazi pronouncements – hidden and retrieved after the war – is a priceless time-capsule, opened for the first time in this astonishing film. The members of Oyneg Shabes risked their lives to create a comprehensive archive of life in the ghetto, “to meld thousands of individual testimonies into a collective portrait.” Director Roberta Grossman – “Seeing Allred”; “Above and Beyond” (BJFF 2016); “Hava Nagila” (BJF 2014) - reveals the vision, ingenuity, and courage of these women and men, and the inspiring vision of their leader, a community organizer, historian, public intellectual, and eternal optimist.

In Memory of George Lichter.


To Dust

Monday, March 11 | 11 am | At the Boedecker Theater

Tuesday, March 12 | 4 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

Thursday, March 14 | 4 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

Géza Röhrig (Son of Saul) plays a recent widower who forms a clandestine partnership with a community college biology professor (Matthew Broderick) as he struggles to find religious solace while obsessing over the physical process of human decay.

Winner of the audience award and the award for best new director at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival - despite or perhaps because of its macabre premise - this daring debut from director Shawn Snyder proves what we all know, that grief takes many forms. Films rarely dare probe our feelings about what awaits us all. Death. Decay. And what of the soul? However ludicrous this darkly comedic tale becomes, we recognize the universal, mysterious workings of the heart coping with the death of a loved one. Fearless and funny, with fabulous performances by Matthew Broderick as a bumbling biology professor and Géza Röhrig (“Son of Saul,” BJFF 2015) as a grief-stricken Hasidic cantor whose obsessive curiosity leads him from religion to science.

“Shmuel and Albert may be the funniest odd couple since Broderick and Nathan Lane’s Leo Bloom and Max Bialystock.” – NY Post

“A masterpiece of tone, balancing comedy with depth and emotional measure.” – MXDWN


Love, Gilda 

Tuesday, March 12 | Reception at 6:30 pm, Film at 7:30 | At the Boedecker Theater | SOLD OUT

Thursday, March 14 | 11 am | At the Boedecker Theater

Sunday, March 17 | 4 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

The irrepressible comedienne’s story is told by Gilda Radner herself, in copious interviews, along with recently discovered interviews and home movies, creating a memorable portrait of a beloved comic genius.

Laughter and tears are guaranteed responses to Gilda – both to the irrepressible Second City and Saturday Night Live star who died of ovarian cancer at 42 almost 30 years ago, and to this beaming, belated homage to the joyful genius. Gilda candidly recorded her thoughts on audiotapes, and wrote copiously in her dairies, which are read on camera by contemporary comics. Director Lisa Dapolito uses both to draw an intimate portrait of a loveable yet troubled woman struggling with body image issues – and a brilliant performer battling the male-dominated world of comedy. Her healing marriage to Gene Wilder, who died two years ago, puts the final bittersweet coda on this sunny, sassy love song to Roseanne Roseannadanna, Lisa Loopner, Baba Wawa, and Emily Litella.


What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael 

Friday, March 8 | 10:30 am | At the Boedecker Theater

Rescheduled information coming soon

Saturday, March 16 | 7:30 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

The preeminent film critic of the 20th century used her influence to shape modern cinema as well as our understanding of it, as revealed in this clip-filled homage to the movies Kael championed.

When Pauline Kael joined the New Yorker in 1968, she cut an unlikely figure as a feared and admired public intellectual. A middle-aged Jewish woman without academic pedigree, she soon proved a driving force in the exploding and explosive cinema of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Unbounded by theory or rules, she responded personally to every film she reviewed, at length, often differing from other critics as she assessed such new talents as Martin Scorsese, and propounded the auteur theory. The first bio doc of the critic, who died in 2001 having retired from writing due to Parkinson’s, allows us to see scenes from the films she reviewed to determine how her judgment has held up. Although a phenomenon in her day – her books were Bibles to the cineaste – she seems even more prescient and relevant today, and is sorely missed. This gem is every film lover’s dream.

“Kael had a more positive influence on the climate for film in America than any other single person over the last three decades.” - Roger Ebert

“She was more than a great critic. She reinvented the form and pioneered an entire aesthetic of writing.” - Owen Gleiberman, E-Weekly



Tuesday, March 19 | 6:30 pm | At the Gordon Gamm Theater

Hasidic women create the first all-female volunteer ambulance corps in New York, led by a female force of nature who defies male authority while respecting tradition.

Don’t ever tell Ruchie Freier that she can’t do something because she is a woman. First she will get mad, then she’ll prove you wrong. And you will love her for it. A surprising look at female empowerment inside the Hasidic community of Brooklyn’s Borough Park, Paula Eiselt’s nuanced feature debut is, above all, a preconception- shattering study in personal tenacity. Ruchie is the charismatic star of the film, and master of her own destiny. The mother of six children and a practicing attorney who earned her law degree at age 40, and the first Hasidic woman to ever hold public office in the U.S., she defies limitations while refusing the mantle of feminist superhero.


The Museum 

Thursday, March 14 | 1:30 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

Friday, March 15 | 2 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

Explore the Israeli soul through the galleries, storerooms, staff, and visitors of Tel Aviv’s astounding Israel Museum, the nation’s most important - and illuminating - cultural institution.

What does the famed Israel Museum tell us about the Jewish experience, the Jewish people, and their homeland? As it turns out, the museum holds invaluable clues to the character, psyche, values, and aspirations of a nation. The treasures of Jewish civilization and Israeli culture are beautifully displayed by director Ran Tal, who spent 18 months observing the daily routine of the museum at the time of its 50th anniversary. She also displays the people who value them - curators, artists, guards, volunteers, soldiers, students, art lovers, and others. More than a mere repository of aesthetics and ideas, the museum is a living organism central to our understanding of its complex society.


Operation Finale 

Thursday, March 14 | 6:30 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

Sunday, March 17 | 1 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

The capture of Adolph Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) by a team of Mossad agents is superbly depicted in this uncommonly intelligent 2018 Hollywood thriller starring Oscar Isaac.

In 1960, a team of crack Mossad agents, many Holocaust survivors themselves, were sent on a perilous mission to Argentina. Israel’s reputation would rest on their highly symbolic success in capturing the logistical mastermind of the Final Solution, and bringing him to Israel to stand trial. Accurately based on the dangerous top-secret mission of the same name, “Operation Finale” focuses equally on heroism and humanity. Peter Malkin, portrayed as steely yet sensitive by Oscar Isaac, and his captive Eichmann (brilliantly evoked by Ben Kingsley), engage in a deadly game of cat and mouse. The electric scenes between these mortal enemies – victim and perpetrator caged together – lend a rare dimension of emotional suspense to Chris Weitz’s gripping drama of high- stakes international espionage.


The Waldheim Waltz 

Friday, March 15 | 4:15 pm | At the Boedecker Theater

The astounding story of a former Nazi’s rise to post-war power, and the lies, secrets, and betrayals that led to the incredible injustice.

Filmmaker Ruth Beckermann, who participated in protests against Kurt Waldheim during his Austrian presidential campaign in 1986, returns to her native country to take another look at the controversy caused by revelations of Waldheim’s wartime past. She also clearly documents the outbreak of anti-Semitism and patriotism that finally led to his election despite these damning revelations and the attempt to hide the truth. The former UN Secretary- General had often presented himself as an honest soldier caught on the wrong side, an idea closely aligned with the then-popular notion that Austria was “Hitler’s first victim.” A nation finally reckons with its past in this unsettling film, revealing a truth much more complicated and disturbing.


The Mamboniks

Sunday, March 17 | 6:30 pm | At the Gordon Gamm Theater

Its Yiddish-inflected title refers to Jews who went crazy for the Cuban fusion of European melodies and African rhythms known as mambo – and are still swaying to the Latin beat.

Why did Jewish people fall head over heels in love with Latin dance in the years directly following World War II, earning them the nickname, “mamboniks?” For proof, one need to look no further than popularity of the album “Bongos and Bagels.” At a time when America was racially segregated, and anti-Semitism was commonplace, two cultures, Jewish and Latino, met on the dance floors of New York, the Catskills, Miami Beach, and sultry Havana. While chronicling the rise and fall of mambo itself, this high-spirited film spotlights a lovable, somewhat zany group of Florida retirees who remain unrepentant mamboniks.