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Reeling in Beantown

It may not be as prestigious as Cannes or as cutting-edge as Sundance, but this year’s Boston Jewish Film Festival boasts an impressive 57 films — including dramas, comedies, documentaries and shorts — from 16 countries around the world. Founded 18 years ago by Michal Goldman, the festival champions independent films focused on Jewish life and themes. The program features three world premieres, three North American premieres and four American premieres. Discussions with artists and directors are also included, in addition to a variety of international musical performances.

Some highlights are the world premiere of Richard Berge, Nicole Newnham and Bonni Cohen’s recent documentary, “The Rape of Europa,” which examines the saga of the theft, destruction and survival of priceless works of art during World War II; the Boston premiere of Doug Block’s “51 Birch Street” (2005), in which, following the death of his mother, the filmmaker examines the complexities of our relationships with our parents and the mysteries of his parents’ 50-year marriage; Frieda Lee Mock’s “Wrestling with Angels,” a recent film that focuses on the life and controversial work of Tony Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner, and Oliver Hirschbiegel’s “Just an Ordinary Jew” (2005, in German with English subtitles), which examines whether or not life ever can be ordinary again for a Jew living in Germany.

The films are presented at seven locations in and around Boston.

Boston Jewish Film Festival; Nov. 1-12; movie tickets: $10 general admission; for schedules and further information, call or visit the Web site. (866-468-7619 or (www.bjff.org)[http://www.bjff.org])

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