In this, the second annual Forward Fives selection, we celebrate the year’s cultural output with a series of deliberately eclectic choices in film, music, theater, exhibitions and books. Here we present five of the most important Jewish films of 2010. Feel free to argue with and add to our selections in the comments.
By Avi Nesher
Set in Haifa in the aftermath of the Six Day War, Avi Nesher’s “The Matchmaker” follows a matchmaker and Holocaust survivor named Yankele Bride and his young protégé, Arik. Through the eyes of his 16-year-old protagonist, Nesher explores the coming-of-age of a teenager and a country dealing with the trauma of the Holocaust as well as more recent military triumph.
Watch the trailer for ‘The Matchmaker’ below and read the Forward’s review here.
A Film Unfinished
By Yael Hersonski
The 62 minutes of footage shot by the Nazis months before the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 has been used piecemeal by nearly every Holocaust documentary ever made, but Israeli director Yael Hersonski’s “A Film Unfinished” is the first film to examine the footage as a whole. Though the Nazi film has often been accepted as documentary material, Hersonski shows how the scenes were arranged for the Nazis’ own propagandistic purposes. Despite being slapped with an R rating in the United States for its graphic nature, “A Film Unfinished” ranks as one of the most important films yet made about the Holocaust.
By Julia Bacha
Though not without its flaws, Brazilian filmmaker Julia Bacha’s documentary about the Palestinian non-violent movement provides an unprecedented look at what could be the most important recent development in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Focusing on Palestinian activist Ayed Morrar, “Budrus” depicts Palestinians’ mostly non-violent efforts, along with those of international and Israeli supporters, to retain control over their olive groves against the encroachment of the Israeli-built separation barrier in 2003 and 2004.
By Richard J. Lewis
The work of Canadian Jewish literary icon Mordecai Richler was first introduced to American filmgoing audiences with the 1974 adaptation of “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.” Now the author is having a second, posthumous run south of the border with “Barney’s Version,” the Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman starring adaptation of Richler’s last novel, published in 1997. More than 10 years in the making, Richard J. Lewis’s version of “Barney’s Version” presents a faithful rendering of Richler’s work.
The Strange Case of Angelica
By Manoel de Oliveira
At 102 years old, Manoel de Oliveira is the world’s oldest active filmmaker. His latest film, which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, was 64 years in the making, and is the Portuguese director’s first movie to tackle a Jewish subject. “The Strange Case of Angelica” tells the story of Isaac, a photographer who is called upon to take pictures of an ethereal young bride just after her death. With its otherworldly sadness, “The Strange Case of Angelica” shows an accomplished director still at the height of his powers.
Watch the trailer for ‘The Strange Case of Angelica’ below and read the Forward’s coverage of the film at Cannes here.