Movies That Matter
Our audience comes to see – and be entertained by – the diversity of the Jewish experience as shown in a wide variety of independent films. In this way, they also get a better understanding of their own lives whether or not they’re Jewish.
A Showcase for Downtown Baton Rouge
The Festival promotes economic development in the Baton Rouge region by showcasing Baton Rouge (and South Louisiana) as a progressive, cosmopolitan, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic region.
Community Education Programs
Every year, the Festival underwrites Holocaust educational programs specifically for students and teachers in the region.
The Festival sponsors “off-season” community-wide cultural events in Baton Rouge. In years past this has included co-sponsorship of scholar-in-residence and noted Jewish educator Ron Wolfson as well as the community sing-along showing of “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Manship Theatre.
How much do tickets to the Festival cost?
You can purchase tickets at the Manship Theatre box office for $8.50. Tickets can also be purchased via phone (866.451.2787) or via the Manship website (see below).
“We took our daughter to the Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival as a teachable moment, but it led to the start of a cherished tradition for our family…The Festival takes a huge buffet of culture, history and entertainment and serves a manageable portion to participants that leaves us both satisfied and wanting more year after year.”Frances Spencer
“I have learned more about Jewish culture from the BRJFF than I did in more than three decades of living in my native New York. I look forward to the festival each year as a way to learn about the various experiences of Jews around the world, and to share that with my friends both Jewish and non-Jewish alike. We laugh! We cry! We suddenly remember to call our mothers! “Renee Bacher
See you at the movies!
OPENING NIGHT: Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017 @ 7:00 PM
Short: Blue Like Me
Siona Benjamin is a daughter of Israel, born of India, and a citizen of the world – and that world is blue. Filmmaker Hal Rifkin captures her transfixing artwork, resplendent with jaw dropping imagery painted in a riot of color: Benjamin synthesizes her Jewish roots with Hindu, Catholic, Muslim, and Zoroastrian iconography, producing something wholly original and utterly mesmerizing.
(2015, Documentary, 28 min., Director: Hal Rifkin, English/Marathi with subtitles, general audience)
“Blue Like Me: Through creating rich illustrations that seamlessly weave Hindu, Jewish and American culture elements, Siona Benjamin has used her art to establish her identity and cultivate a sense of belonging.”
~ Jerusalem Post
“Attending the Jewish Film Festival each year gives me the opportunity to experience life from a different perspective as well as learn more about the Jewish culture through the art of film. The food tasting and guest speaker last year made it fun and memorable.”Elena Moreno Keegan
Feature: 400 Miles to Freedom
What does it mean when others insist that you can’t be who you know you are? A man’s search for answers leads him to other African, Asian, and Latino Jews. Together they discover what it takes to heal a broken past, to overcome the invisibility and the questioning of one’s identity.
(2012, Documentary, 60 min., Directors: Avishai Mekonen, Shari Rothfarb Mekonen, USA/Israel, English, general audience)
“400 Miles To Freedom is a refreshing meditation on identity and religion”
~ San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
“To me, the Jewish Film Festival is a fun, yearly reunion where you get to schmooze and catch up with a couple of hundred of your friends in between some high-quality movies. The festival always features a perfect balance of comedy, drama, history and tradition. I’m looking forward to the 10-year reunion in January!”Silvia DeWitt
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017 @ 7:00 PM
Fever At Dawn
Diagnosed with lung disease and given six months to live, Hungarian Holocaust survivor Miklos Gardos was determined to find love in the short time the doctors said he had left. Taken to a Swedish hospital from a Nazi concentration camp in 1945, Gardos wrote letters to 117 Hungarian women at hospitals across the Nordic country, claiming to have known them back home. Now the story about how he found the woman of his dreams, another camp survivor, by sending those letters to complete strangers, is told in a movie made by his film director son.
(2015, Drama, 114 min., Director: Peter Gordos, Israel/Sweden/Hungary, Hungarian, mature audience)
“Fever at Dawn is a tale of passion, striving, and betrayal; true and false friendships; doubt and faith; and the redeeming power of love.”
~ JPL Montreal
“The Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival exposes me to cinema I would otherwise be unaware of. And if you think the BRJFF offers of nothing but dry, boring documentaries, think again! Listen – you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the BRJFF. (But it couldn’t hurt!)”Scotty Drake
Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 @ 7:30 PM
Rock in the Red Zone
Rock in the Red Zone is an intimate portrayal of life on the edge in the war-torn city of Sderot. Once known for its prolific rock scene that revolutionized Israeli music, for 13 years the town has been the target of ongoing rocket fire from th e Gaza strip. Through the personal lives and music of Sderot’s diverse musicians, and the personal narrative of the filmmaker, who ends up calling the town home, the film chronicles the town’s trauma and reveals its enduring spirit. “You don’t need to be a music fan to enjoy and feel touched by Rock in the Red Zone. It provides a powerful snapshot of the ‘real’ Israel that shies away from politics but unflinchingly focuses on the effects of politics on the lives of people viewers can’t avoid feeling connect to.”
(2015, Documentary., 105 min., Director: Laura Bialis, Israel, Hebrew, PG-13)
Avi Vaknin LIVE after the Saturday evening showing
“It’s refreshing to see a soft and sweet relationship film come out of this otherwise grim genre.”
~ Manousos, LetterBoxd.com
“Without a doubt, Rock in the Red Zone is the feel-good, get-angry, and get-down movie of the year. When it is over, you will have seen a heck of a lot of life happening and far too much tragedy.”
~ Joe Bendel, The Epoch Times
“Like the best films, Rock in the Red Zone raises and deals with serious questions about roots, a person’s sense of belonging, what a country’s responsibilities are to its citizens, and salvation through music. If that description sounds like a visual presentation of a particularly earnest Bruce Springsteen song, that’s because, like Springsteen’s most affecting work, the film forces the viewer to think about those very issues by skillfully weaving a tale with grace, dignity and attention to poignant details”
~ David Brinn, The Jerusalem Post
“Every year I always look forward to seeing what the Jewish Film Festival has to offer. And every year I’m delighted. I’ve laughed, cried and been deeply moved, many times all in the same movie. Baton Rouge is fortunate to have JFF bring us beautiful, funny, thought-provoking films.”Yuri Paula Weydling
Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 @ 3:00 PM
A delightful 90-minute selection of short films, ranging from five to 18 minutes each, some funny, some animated, all thoughtful, fun-sized films from the around the world. Special thanks to Jewish Film Institute Presents: Selected Shorts.
The Jewish Film Institute is the premier curatorial voice for Jewish film and media internationally and a leading arts organization in the San Francisco Bay Area. JFI has introduced audiences to new voices, ground-breaking stories, and thought-provoking content, inspiring communities to expand their understanding of Jewish life through film, media, and dialogue.
“I LOVE the films that are selected each year. I learn new things every year!”Julie Watson Rutherford
100 Lafayette St. Baton Rouge, LA
Community Education Programs
For Students & Teachers
What is “For Students & Teachers?”
Who Can Participate?
Who Should I Contact?
Contact your school office to coordinate timing and logistics. Then contact the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge by calling 225-379-7393.
Where and When Does It Take Place?
The films are shown at Independence Park Theater, 7800 Independence Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA.
“I just wanted to say thank you for inviting McKinley High School to the Jewish Film Festival screening. I truly believe that our students benefited from this experience. As we delve further into the Holocaust at our school, I am thankful for this rare opportunity for the students to see how teens such as themselves have made such wonderful strides to continue educating the world. Thank you again.”Lena Yokyongskul Burrows
“I would like to thank you for giving my students the opportunity to view the film, Secret Lives: Hidden Children and Their Rescuers and for the privilege of seeing Mrs. Anne Levy in person and hearing her courageous story of how she and her family withstood the horror and degradation of the Holocaust. She brought history alive for my students, giving them a personal connection that could never be achieved through just print or pictures. You along with Mrs. Levy have given my students a priceless gift that will impact them for the rest of their lives. For this, we are very appreciative and grateful.”Rhonda Roshto
For Teachers Only
What is “For Teachers Only?”
Every year, the Festival (in association with the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge) underwrites Holocaust educational programs specifically for teachers in the region. We do this by making it possible to send deserving teachers to the Belfer National Conference for Educators in Washington DC, held at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in July of each year. Funded by a grant from the Belfer Foundation, this conference is designed for middle and high school educators and community college faculty. At the conference, Museum educators and scholars share rationales, strategies, and approaches for teaching about the Holocaust. Participants have the opportunity to tour the Museum’s Permanent Exhibition, as well as the special exhibitions Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story and Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration & Complicity in the Holocaust, and to explore the Museum’s full range of resources.
Who Can Participate?
Teachers from public, private, and parochial middle/high schools in E. Baton Rouge, Livingston, W. Feliciana, and Ascension parishes are eligible to apply for inclusion into program.
Who Should I Contact?
Please contact the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge by calling 225-379-7393.
Where and When Does It Take Place?
“My principal has just confirmed that we will be offering a new elective next school year based on Holocaust education…This would not have been possible without the Jewish Federation’s support in sending me to the Belfer Conference. I just cannot thank you and the Jewish Federation enough for all you do. Thank you!”Bonnie Chelette
“During this past July, I received a scholarship from the Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival and the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge. This made it possible for me to attend the Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Conference in Washington, D.C…
“Each day over the course of the conference, we had a variety of expert speakers including a museum historian, an author sharing the story of his descendants experience in relation to the Holocaust, and a personal testimony by Henry Greenbaum, a Holocaust survivor whose story of survival was very moving. I was excited to hear that Henry will be the guest speaker for the Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival’s Student Film in January…
“Through collaboration at the Belfer Conference, I found out about the various organizations and foundations that provide the materials, guidance, training, and funding needed for its teachers. Part of my goal from this experience is to help build a Louisiana based network of Holocaust educators who can share resources that can be made available like other states have…
“I am graciously thankful of the Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival and the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge for selecting me for the scholarship. Attending the Belfer Conference pointed me in the right direction and increased my motivation for teaching the Holocaust. I am excited with their willingness and interest in assisting local Louisiana teachers in their academic and professional growth in Holocaust education.”Bryanne Mader
“The Arthur and Rochelle Belfer National Conference at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was a life changing experience. I spent three days surrounded by fellows of the museums, amazing teachers, authors, historians, and survivors. Each day provided resources and outstanding lessons to use with your students. Not only did they share lessons, they showed you how to teach them, and then gave you what you need to teach the lessons.
“With the generosity of a scholarship from the Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival and the support of the Jewish Federation of Baton Rouge, I spent three days in Washington D.C. immersed in practical learning. I left with materials from the bookstore, which have shaped my overall understanding of the Holocaust, as well as, lesson ideas that answer the questions all students have when studying the Holocaust. One of the most amazing experiences is when the Museum is open just for attendees to walk around and really see it all. I spent so much time noticing things I had missed in my previous visits. We were able to use parts of the museum and its online resources to create lesson ideas as well. Additionally, hearing the words of survivors is the most amazing learning you can have, first-hand experience. This experience was a gift that inspired me to continue to learn more and to shift the way I teach the Holocaust.
“Through collaboration at the Conference, I learned of other resources, various organizations, and was able to meet amazing teachers from around the country for whom I still keep in contact with to discuss lessons and to share ideas. My goal from the workshop is to help grow the Jewish Federation’s education part of the website.
“I am so grateful for the Jewish Film Festival and the Jewish Federation of Baton Rouge for your support of local teachers. Your belief in me and how much local teachers are trying to educate our students on this important historical topic. I was told once by a fellow educator, “The more answers you find about the Holocaust, the more questions you will have, but you have to keep asking.” Thanks to this opportunity, I have resources and ways to keep asking and to keep learning. I hope to continue to share my learning with the community and students for years to come.”Mandy Perret
“Having attended the Belfer conference, I now have a wider understanding of the machinery of the Holocaust and World War II. I find now that there are many layers, hidden and overt, to the Holocaust. Before this conference, I thought of the Holocaust as having a regimented beginning and end, with schedules, orders and a exacting plan. While the Holocaust does have those features, it also is more sly in some ways like mist that covers the road in the morning making it difficult to see, but yet the road is still there.
“I also was privileged to receive many materials from Belfer to assist in teaching; my students will be using Salvaged Pages to read journals and diaries from witnesses to the Holocaust. I will be using the on-line materials also provided by the Belfer conference, including the timeline project, which so beautifully shows the complexity of life leading up to and during the Holocaust. Lastly, we will also be investigating what it means to be a witness to the Holocaust, and then shifting to how students can become upstanders in daily life.”Katy Riley
Teaching About The Holocaust
Teaching Holocaust history demands a high level of sensitivity and keen awareness of the complexity of the subject matter. It also requires approaches appropriate for effective teaching in general, while being particularly relevant to Holocaust education.
Benefits of Being a Patron
The Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival is made possible by the support of our friends and patrons. As in years past, you are very important to the success of the Festival. We need your support as a Patron to help us underwrite Festival expenses. Please support the 2017 Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival today by calling the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge at 225-379-7393.
Your Name in Lights!
Each year, all of our Patrons are recognized on-screen in the pre-show credits, for their invaluable generosity and good will in making our Festival a reality. Thanks again, guys – we love you!