For film lovers the cinema can be a kind of temple. For 15 years the Kane Street Synagogue has been taking that truth to heart, hosting the Brooklyn Israel Film Festival in the same building in which its congregants meet for services.
This year the festival is adding a short film series, screening an Israeli classic and continuing its well-attended children’s programming that started last year.
The three-day festival begins Thursday January 24 with a screening of Gilberto Tofano’s 1969 film “Siege” about a widow (Gila Almagor) of the Six Day War caught between starting a new life and keeping her husband’s memory alive. A roundtable discussion with actor and congregation member Dominic Fumusa and Columbia University and Ramapo College film professor Stuart Weinstock will follow the screening, continuing the festival’s tradition of guest speakers.
“Last year we had the director of ‘The Settlers’ come and speak on Shabbat and did a Q&A,” Festival Chair Laureve Blackstone said. “And a couple of years ago when we showed ‘Freedom Runners,’ about the refugee crisis in Israel, we had an activist who appeared live via Skype after the film.”
Screenings continue Saturday night with 2018’s “Echo” directed by Amikam Kovner and Assaf Snir. The film is a domestic drama about a husband (Yoram Toledano) who spies on his wife (Yaël Abecassis) when he suspects she’s having an affair, only to discover a more disturbing truth.
Sunday evening will mark the return of the family screening with Alon Gur Arye’s 2017 movie “Operation Egg” in which zookeepers must recover a rare eagle’s egg from a pair of thieves who want to use it to win a reality cooking show.
Sunday also features the festival’s first short film series with Vidi Bilu’s 2018 drama “Strings,” Nadav Shlomo Giladi’s comedy of errors “Across the Line” and Leon Prudovsky’s immigration romp “Welcome and… Our Condolences.” That last film was a hit last year, Blackstone said, and inspired the committee to introduce more shorts to the lineup.
Kane Street Synagogue’s 15-year-old festival began during a period of increased terror attacks in Israel. Members of the synagogue conceived of and organized the three-day event with the support of Rabbi Samuel Weintraub in an effort to highlight the Jewish state’s artistic life. So far the tradition seems to be working.
Dates and other information about the Brooklyn Israel Film Festival at Kane Street Synagogue can be found here.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.