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.