Heebish Highlights of the Sundance Film Festival 2011


In Deep Water: Ariel Kleiman’s short drama portrays a deeply frustrated submarine crew and trawls below the surface of their actions.
In Deep Water: Ariel Kleiman’s short drama portrays a deeply frustrated submarine crew and trawls below the surface of their actions.

By Gabrielle Birkner

Published February 02, 2011, issue of February 11, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Many of the selections at the Sundance Film Festival, which ran January 20–30 in Park City, Utah, were the work of Jewish directors or about Jewish themes — the following films among them.

• Prolific documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus was back at Sundance this year, premiering “Bobby Fischer Against the World.” The film tells the bizarre life story of the Brooklyn-bred Jew who is widely considered to be the greatest chess player of all time. It centers on Fischer’s 1972 World Championship match, billed as a proxy battle in the Cold War, and the chess master’s subsequent descent into reclusion and paranoia. It touches only briefly on Fischer’s virulent anti-Semitism, made all the more curious by his own religious roots. The film will air on HBO in July.

• Five years in the making, Yoav Potash’s absorbing documentary “Crime After Crime” chronicles the extended legal battle of Deborah Peagler, who was convicted and imprisoned in connection to the 1983 murder of her abusive boyfriend. Potash captures Peagler’s extraordinarily productive prison life, and the tireless efforts of her two pro-bono attorneys. The lawyers, in an attempt to secure their client’s freedom, work for years to expose what they see as holes in the case against Peagler and a pattern of misconduct in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. One of Peagler’s lawyers, Joshua Safran, is an Orthodox Jew, who sees his work on the case as part of a religious mandate to pursue justice and free the wrongly imprisoned.

“Deeper Than Yesterday,” a short film by Ariel Kleiman, takes place almost entirely underwater — on a Russian navy submarine, where, without sun and without sex, the seamen become more depraved with each passing day. The limits of their savagery are tested when they discover a beautiful woman’s lifeless body floating in the water. The 2011 festival marks the second year in a row that a short film by Kleiman, the 25-year-old son of Russian Jews who immigrated to Melbourne, Australia, has screened at Sundance. “Deeper Than Yesterday” won this year’s jury prize in the international short filmmaking category.

• Nearly a quarter century after the Beastie Boys released “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party),” and its havoc-wreaking music video, Adam “MCA” Yauch — a founding member of the hip-hop group — has directed “Fight For Your Right Revisited.” The lushly produced short film, which resembles an extended music video, shows viewers what happens after the trio leaves the sleepy party turned Budweiser-fueled pie fight. This raucous Sundance selection features Danny McBride as MCA, Elijah Wood as Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Seth Rogen as Michael “Mike D” Diamond, as well as cameos by more than a dozen other Hollywood A-listers, from Will Farrell to Susan Sarandon.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.