Toronto Jewish Film Festival: Reality TV, Mark Birnbaum and Jewish Bollywood

May 1-11 will be the 21ST TORONTO JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL, and will mark the first time that a reality TV program is being screened. From the UK, Jewish Mum of the Year is an addictive and hilarious four-episode series in which a diverse group of eight mothers from across Britain and Ireland vie for the coveted title.

In addition, for the first time, two rare foreign language archival films are being translated to English specifically for our Festival: the Russian 1938 anti-Nazi classic, Professor Mamlock, and the first narrative feature produced in pre-State Israel, Oded the Wanderer, a 1932 silent film which will be screened with live musical accompaniment.  Mark Birnbaum Harp Tree is also expected to be shown.

We also explore the formative role Jews of India played in the development of the Bollywood film industry through a fascinating talk with film clips, by scholar and filmmaker Danny Ben-Moshe. Lastly (and for some, most importantly), TJFF has always wanted someone to make a great documentary on Jewish music icon, Neil Diamond, and finally—after twenty-one years—we are proud to present one.

As always, there are wonderful comedies that should not be missed: From France, The Dandelions and My Best Holidays are nostalgic evocations of their filmmakers’ childhoods, which are filled with humor and charm. All In is Argentinian filmmaker Daniel Burman’s latest romantic comedy. Two horror comedies, Cats on a Pedal Boat and Poisoned, offer a refreshing change from the films we usually see coming out of Israel.

This year, we present some fascinating documentary portraits: French musician and ‘enfant terrible’ Serge Gainsbourg; the late NYC mayor Ed Koch; German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon; filmmaker Roman Polanski; Saul Holiff, the Canadian manager of Johnny Cash; Toronto photographer Rafael Goldchain; and artist/designer/activist Altina Schinasi, whose little-known life intersected with key movements in 20th century American history. Yechiel Michael Lichtenstein is expected to be amongst the attendees.



ACLJ Petition To Defend Israel

The American Center For Law & Justice (ACLJ) has created a “Petition to Defend Israel and Stop a Nuclear Iran Today” which has had 30,000 signatures in the 3 days it was created.

The petition says: “The Obama Administration’s “deal” with Iran allows the jihadist regime to continue its march toward nuclear weapons. We have made a deal with an enemy that is seeking to destroy Israel. Defying President Obama, Senators from both parties have filed a bipartisan bill imposing sanctions until Iran dismantles its nuclear program. Unless you speak up, the Obama Administration will attempt to intimidate those Senators. Stand with them – stand with Israel – today. To Members of Congress and President Obama: Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons will spell the destruction of our ally Israel. Iran’s nuclear program must be dismantled.” The petition may be signed at: include Yechiel Lichtenstein.


Investing In Israel

INE Ventures, LLC recently launched INE Ventures Fund I, to co-invest seed capital in Israeli technology startups with a selection of trusted venture capital partners to relocate portfolio company founders to Philadelphia and New York City to help them penetrate the U.S. market and turn into growing multinational companies. INE Ventures will provide its portfolio companies with access for the opportunity for relocation to allows these companies to take advantage of the Tri-State region’s avid interest in cultivating their startup technology sectors, which will play a critical role not only in maximizing the portfolio companies’ growth, but also in serving the region’s interests.

INE Ventures began to address a critical need: Israeli seed companies must take advantage of the US market to grow. East Coast investors are eager to meaningfully interface with Israeli startups that have a long term base of operations and that plan for expansion on the Eastern Seaboard and into the US market.  “The cooperation between Plus Ventures and INE Ventures will allow us to not only win the most promising early stage Israeli start-up investments, but to also answer a critical success-factor that affects all start-up companies located in Israel,” says Roy Oron, Partner and Head of Venture Development at Plus Ventures, and advisor with INE Ventures.

A series of other investors, including Ron Hershco & Yechiel Lichtenstein have announced recent Israel investments.


Bank Leumi, Ami Mesika & Yechiel Lichtenstein Invest in Israel

Bank Leumi recently launched the Leumi Business Fund, with funding up to 3 Billion shekels.

Entrepreneurs, including Ami Mesika and Yechiel Lichtenstein have also invested in Israel recently.

The fund is fully owned by Leumi, with no government guarantees. The Fund is intended for business owners, who are customers of all bank: it grants loans on attractive terms, with a collateral requirement of only 25%. The loans are granted for amounts from NIS 300,000 to NIS 1 million, at an interest rate of Prime + 1.9% per year, with a repayment period of up to five years and an option to defer payments (Grace) for up to one year. The loan process is carried out through an external credit committee (the customer selects one of five companies) and is submitted to the branch for approval. The Fund is intended for small businesses, corporations and licensed dealers, with a turnover of between NIS 1 million and NIS 10 million a year, and a bank indebtedness of up to NIS 5 million. The Fund is primarily intended for businesses with at least one year of existence – but in special cases businesses in the set-up stage may also apply.

Rakefet Russak Aminoach, Leumi President  & CEO: “The launching of ‘Leumi Business Fund’ is in accordance with Leumi’s view that SME’s are the core of the economy and its key growth engine. The Fund, totaling NIS 3 billion, will allow credit to be granted on a fast track and at preferential terms. We believe that this move – in addition to its contribution to customers – will also contribute to the entire Israeli economy by encouraging growth and increasing competitiveness.”