JxJ is a multidisciplinary arts project encompassing the Washington Jewish Film and Music Festivals alongside original hybrid arts programming.
The Washington Jewish Film Festival, now in its 29th year, presents a robust lineup of international film premieres, Q&As, and sneak previews.
The Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation is the Lead Sponsor of the Washington Jewish Music Festival, which returns for its 20th edition.
Dir. Benjamin Till
13 min | United Kingdom | Short
One hundred Jewish Brits—one born in every year between 1917 and 2018—sing their shared story of Jewish diversity and memorable milestones, in this charming and uplifting musical.
Dirs. Samuel AlbaricUlysse LefortMartin Wiklund
17 min | France | Short
How does one grow up between an absent Iraqi father and a pervasive Jewish mother? Tossed around by the great upheavals of the modern times, Tim tries as hard as he can to find his place in the world.
Dir. Fernando Grostein Andrade
85 min | Brazil | Narrative
In this delectable charmer fresh from Sundance, twelve-year-old Brooklynite Abe navigates the complicated identity issues that arise from having a Jewish-Israeli mother and a Muslim-Palestinian father.
Dir. Matthew Shoychet
78 min | CanadaGermanyIsraelPolandUSA | Documentary
In 2015, 94-years old Oskar Gröning—the Accountant of Auschwitz—was finally prosecuted for the murder of 300,000 Jews. This gripping documentary presents the race against time to prosecute the last living Nazi war criminals, while raising questions about the very nature of justice.
Dir. Yael Reisfeld
6 min | Israel | Short
Three journeyers experience a strange night in the old Jewish cemetery in Zefat, where they are possessed by souls from the 16th century.
Combining their passion for Jewish liturgical traditions and American folk religious music, Jewlia Eisenberg and Jeremiah Lockwood lead a workshop on spirituals, protest music and related texts.
Dir. Ewald André Dupont
135 min | Germany | Concert Narrative
A cine-concert that combines a screening of the foundational 1923 silent film The Ancient Law with a live original score by Alicia Svigals (The Klezmatics) and silent film music legend Donald Sosin.
Dir. Aleksey Fedorchenko
75 min | Russia | Narrative
A harrowing and indelible portrayal of war, filtered through the eyes of six-year-old Anna, whose childhood dreams of becoming a musician are replaced by a simple and more immediate desire: survival.
Direct from Stage 42 on 42nd Street in New York City, Zalmen Mlotek, Artistic Director of National Yiddish Theatre, and Music Director of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, joins actors Jennifer Babiak (Golde) and Bruce Sabath (Leyzer-Volf) to discuss the creation of the new Yiddish-language production, which is directed by Joel Grey.
Dir. Yehonatan Indursky
210 min | Israel | Narrative
In this dystopian drama from Shtisel creator Yehonatan Indursky, Israel is divided by a wall separating the secular “State of Israel,” with Tel Aviv as its capital, and the “Haredi Autonomy” in Jerusalem, run by the ultra-Orthodox.
Dir. Jorge Gurvich
90 min | BrazilGermanyIsrael | Narrative
When soccer fanatic Roberto’s ex-wife heads to Rio on business trip—unexpectedly saddling him with childcare duties during the World Cup—he packs up his son and septuagenarian father for a voyage of their own.
71 min | AustraliaFranceGermanyIsrael | Shorts Program
The six shorts in this compendium tackle war, spirituality, and identity as past becomes future, and the future acts a rear-view mirror.
Dir. Chuck Smith
78 min | United States | Documentary
Filmmaker Barbara Rubin defied sexist conventions, connected Andy Warhol to the Velvet Underground, and Bob Dylan to the Kabbalah. Then, she left behind the 1960s NYC art scene to lead life as a Hasidic Jew.
Dir. Amit Breuer
33 min | Israel | Short
Amal is a Palestinian citizen of the State of Israel, a devoted mother, divorced Muslim, and Arabic teacher. The complexities and contradictions of Amal’s life unfold before us, offering an intimate and honest look at what it means to carry a mixed identity.
Dir. Sarah Smith
15 min | United States | Short
A Hasidic man living a secret double life misplaces his hat, which will cause his two separate lives to collide in a way he never intended.
Dir. Uri Barbash
76 min | Israel | Documentary
Often regarded as the greatest Yiddish writer of modern times, Avraham Sutzekver saved Jewish manuscripts from the Nazis, survived WWII after Stalin sent him a private rescue plane, and testified in the Nuremberg Trials.
“The collaboration of singer-guitarist Lockwood and Charming Hostess vocalist Eisenberg encompasses Yiddish songs, Piedmont blues, and queer politics.”
—The New Yorker
Dir. Samy Szlingerbaum
80 min | Belgium | Narrative
In 1980, visionary director Samy Szlingerbaum mined the childhood memories of his parents’ immigration to the “promised land” of Belgium to produce the first feature-length Yiddish film in 30 years.
Dir. James L. Freedman
91 min | United States | Documentary
Universal Pictures founder Carl Laemmle produced hundreds of blockbuster comedies, westerns, and monster movies, earning him respect as a founding father of modern cinema. Remarkably, this professional success pales in comparison with his humanitarian deeds.
Dirs. Eli BatalionJamie Elman
62 min | Canada | Documentary
The sharply intellectual and marvelously zany comedic duo behind the viral Yiddish-language web series YidLife Crisis eat their way through Montreal, along the way engaging with the city’s storied Jewish history.
Dir. Jesse Sweet
83 min | United States | Documentary
An ultra-orthodox Hasidic group living 50 miles north of NYC wage a turf war to expand their community boundaries. When the Satmars attempt to double the size of their village, their secular neighbors fight back.
Dir. Alon Zingman
84 min | Israel | Narrative
Leaving behind a loving girlfriend and a successful career as a world-renown musician, Noah Gamliel (Lior Ashkenazi) finds himself conducting his ailing father’s community choir instead.
Dir. Zack Bernbaum
102 min | Canada | Narrative
In this twisted, witty, and charming story, an estranged sister and brother travel to Poland at the request of their dying grandmother to retrieve an object from her past.
“Accordion charged with punk rock… the free-spirited attitude of the New York Tzadik circle, cabaret flair, and scraps of Tom Waits.” —Rolling Stone
Dir. Leah Galant
13 min | USA | Short
97-year-old Holocaust survivor, WWII II spy, and famous songwriter Inge Ginsberg decides to break out as a death metal singer.
50 min | Weimar Republic (Germany) | Narrative
In 1910s Berlin, blackmail and scandal plague a young musician when his relationship with another man is discovered. When he pushes back against his extortion, the consequences prove tragic.
Dir. Yona Rozenkeir
91 min | Israel | Narrative
When a family patriarch dies, three brothers must put aside their differences to carry out their father’s last wishes, in Yona Rozenkier’s tender debut examining the nature of masculinity, family, and loyalty.
73 min | IsraelSpainUnited KingdomUnited States | Shorts Program
The adage, “our differences make us stronger” is borne out in unexpected, funny, and powerful ways in this collection of shorts.
Dir. Jaceck Borcuch
90 min | Poland | Narrative
In the wake of a terrorist attack in Rome, a Nobel-prize winning woman’s stable life begins to unravel as she develops a relationship with a young immigrant.
Dir. Tal Hake
64 min | IsraelUnited States | Documentary
When Radiohead invited Dudu Tassa and the Kuwaitis to join their 2017 US Tour, the Jewish-Arab Israeli ensemble with Yemeni and Iraqi roots grabbed their instruments, and a camera.
Dir. Malcolm Green
6 min | United Kingdom | Short
What happens when 86 year-old Holocaust survivor Janine teams up with African-American rapper Kapoo to make a film? A hip-hop story for humanity.
Dir. Rosa von Praunheim
100 min | Germany | Narrative
Throughout the decade leading up to the Third Reich, German-Jewish sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld and his peers fight to challenge and abolish anti-homosexuality laws in the Weimar Republic.
Dir. Evelin Kachulin
13 min | Israel | Short
Elina is the seven-year-old daughter of a Russian immigrant living in Israel. She desperately wants to fit into Israeli society, but her well-meaning mother has more difficulty assimilating.
Can’t make it to Tel Aviv for the Eurovision Song Contest Finals? No problem! Join JxJ and Eurovision USA for the official DC-area Watch Party, complete with a pop up bar, Eurovision prizes, trivia, and live musical host Ricky Paul.
Dir. Ofir Trainin
70 min | Israel | Documentary
The story of a family in a small traditional town in Israel, whose lives change completely after Amit, father of four children, confides to his wife Galit that he’s a transgender woman.
Dir. Max Lewkowicz
90 min | United States | Documentary
The first comprehensive documentary to chronicle the birth and life of Fiddler on the Roof, one of the most iconic offerings of American culture.
Dir. Lucille Smith
69 min | United Kingdom | Documentary
In May 1940, a young Dutchman named Sally Noach escaped from Belgium days before the Nazis occupied the Low Countries. Now, nearly forty years after his death, his daughter Lady Irene Hatter has decided to retrace his steps and uncover the truth behind her father’s wartime exploits.
Dir. Bille August
168 min | Denmark | Narrative
Per leaves behind Jutland and a strict religious upbringing, setting sail for the metropolitan Copenhagen of the 1880s, in this sweeping epic from Academy Award-winner Bille August.
Dir. Tawfik Abu Wael
26 min | Israel | Short
An Arab woman rides the train to Tel Aviv and shares an encounter with an Israeli soldier, out of time and place.
Dir. Michelle Paymar
92 min | CanadaEgyptFranceIsraelUnited States | Documentary
In 1896, Solomon Schechter discovered a trove of manuscripts in an ancient synagogue in Cairo, revolutionizing our understanding of a thousand of Jewish life in the heart of the Islamic world.
Dir. Arkady Kogan
84 min | Israel | Documentary
The story of Soviet ‘Refuseniks’ told through the prism of Natan Sharansky’s heroic life. The premiere screening features a post-show conversation with Natan Sharansky and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer.
“With Yalo singing in both Amharic and English, his band cook up a whole range of retro flavours, from golden-age Ethiopian horns and old-school synths to the classic R&B rhythm-section sound…[listen] and you will feel like the coolest person alive. After Gili Yalo, of course.”
Dir. Yotam Knispel
22 min | Israel | Short
Dafna is a drummer with lots of love to give, but no one to give it to – the sound of a guitar playing across her courtyard might change that.
The perfect Mother’s Day experience: bring your Yiddishe Mama to laugh, cry and kvell at the Yiddish comedy duo of Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion. Their live variety show looks at the global Jewish communities they visited to shoot the documentaries Narishkayt—about an eye-opening visit to Krakow—and Chewdaism—a kaleidoscopic culinary tear through Montreal.
Dir. Stephan Nielsen
7 min | United Kingdom | Short
A Tinder-addicted bachelor seeks out relationship advice from his irascible German grandma and her quirky boyfriend, with hilarious results.
“[The Guy Mendilow Ensemble] explode with artistry, refinement, and excitement” –Hebrew Union College
“[Beyond the Pale are a] mind-blowing flight into a very new Jewish-Balkan sonic atmosphere” –LA Weekly
Dirs. Asaf GalayAvida Livny
90 min | Israel | Documentary
A fascinating peek at the creative process of three of the top Orthodox artists working in the music industry today: Gad Elbaz, Motty Steinmetz and Zusha.
Dir. Eyal Datz
54 min | Israel | Documentary
A unique journey into the meeting point of Jewish faith and the Holocaust. Through the Admor of Sanz-Klausenburg’s story of heroism, the film exposes the complex relations between the ultra-orthodox Jews and the memory of the Shoah.
“Isle of Klezbos tests the elasticity of the genre” –The New Yorker
“Alicia Svigals’ fiddle ruled…” –The New York Times
Dir. Dan Shadur
87 min | IsraelUnited States | Documentary
The arc of Benjamin Netanyahu’s career is tracked using archival footage of his media performances, which contextualize his evolution from Israel’s great political hope to a controversial and divisive figure.
Dir. Daniel F. Amselem
15 min | Spain | Short
In a world governed by violence and injustice, The Galactic Drifter—a superhero who has advised humanity for centuries—visits a Jewish therapist to regain his lost powers.
Dir. Isaac Cherem
95 min | Mexico | Narrative
A young Jewish woman from Mexico City finds herself torn between her family and her forbidden love for a non-Jewish man.
Dir. Silvia Quer
96 min | Spain | Narrative
The harrowing true story of Elisabeth Eidenbenz, founder of the Mothers of Elne, which saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish mothers and children along with other refugees during WWII.
Dir. Sari Tzalle
10 min | Israel | Short
A bride-to-be has a mysterious experience at the Mikveh when she ignores the attendant’s instructions.
Dir. Joachim Lang
130 min | BelgiumGermany | Narrative
Against all odds, Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera becomes a phenomenal success, and the film industry picks up the scent, seeking to make the master direct a film version of his “play with music.”
Dir. Lex Gillespie
90 min | United States | Documentary
During the 1950s, free-spirited, mostly Jewish dancers from New York City fell head over heels for the mambo, a hot dance from Havana, Cuba. Their love for Latin rhythms earned them a nickname: the mamboniks.
Dir. Nick Broomfield
97 min | United States | Documentary
Renowned filmmaker Nick Broomfield’s most personal and romantic film to date captures the beautiful, yet tragic, love story between Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse, Marianne Ihlen.
Dir. Alex Herz
11 min | United States | Short
A young Orthodox Jewish girl unearths a golem and other hidden secrets in her grandfather’s attic.
Dir. Davis Simanis
87 min | Latvia | Narrative
Zanis and Johanna Lipke’s heroic and clandestine efforts to save Jews during WWII directly led to the rescue of one fifth of the approximately 200 Jews who survived the war in Latvia.
Isle of Klezbos and Metropolitan Klezmer plumb the fascinating range of music found in vintage Yiddish film soundtracks, from tango and tragic lullaby to a tenement wedding dance. Original arrangements are inspired by scenes from The Dybbuk and Uncle Moses, to newsreels from Moscow’s State Yiddish Theater, and a host of Molly Picon favorites.
Dir. Elise Otzenberger
88 min | France | Narrative
Fresh off their wedding ceremony, a Jewish couple from Paris travel to Poland for a memorial service. The eye-opening trip awkwardly doubles as their honeymoon in this delightful romantic comedy.
The Guy Mendilow Ensemble present a multimedia lecture—incorporating video from sand artist Kseniya Simonova—which traces modern day interpretations of Sephardic music from the former Ottoman Empire.
Dir. David Freid
17 min | USA | Short
What may be the last WWII Nazi trial was also the first to use virtual reality in the courtroom.
Dir. Jeff Vespa
90 min | KazakhstanLatviaUnited States | Narrative
Kazakh folk hero Amre Kashaubayev’s journeys to 1925 Paris Expo to compete in an international singing competition, where he develops an unlikely friendship with Jewish-American songwriter George Gershwin.
Dir. Ryan Porush
70 min | EthiopiaIsraelUnited States | Documentary
For centuries, there was a thriving Jewish community in Ethiopia. After the establishment of Israel, thousands relocated there, and now thousands more are fighting to join their families and friends.
Dir. Natalya Sharapova
3 min | Russia | Short
A family photo album gives a cutting perspective on a young girl’s Jewish identity.
Dirs. Joseph Madmony Boaz Yehonatan Yacov
104 min | Israel | Narrative
One of the leading lights of contemporary Israeli cinema, Joseph Madmony (Restoration), returns for this spiritually rousing, emotionally intelligent story of exhilaration and faith.
Dir. Simon Cunich
14 min | Australia | Short
A cassette tape and a map send Sarah into the unforgiving Snowy Mountains and into the puzzle of her family’s past.
Dir. Celia Lowenstein
90 min | France | Documentary
A visually audacious tour of the 3,000-year history of the Jewish Diaspora, told through Jewish spaces of worship. If synagogues could speak, they would tell the story embodied in Sacred Spaces.
Dir. Nina Paley
93 min | United States | Narrative
An animated musical that channels Passover Seder story, with events from the Book of Exodus retold by Moses, Aharon, the Angel of Death, Jesus and the director’s father.
Dir. Luis Ismael
100 min | Portugal | Narrative
A sweeping epic that covers Jewish history in Portugal from the times of the Crypto Jews in 1496—when King Manuel I prohibited the open practice of Judaism—through to the Nazi regime and modern times.
73 min | IsraelRussiaSwitzerland | Shorts Program
A series of shorts that examine what sets us apart from our families, communities, and peers.
Join local congregations throughout the DC area for musical Shabbat celebrations.
Dir. David Kreiner
87 min | Israel | Narrative
While helping his war-weary students find their voices, a high school teacher attempts to start a new life in Sderot, an Israeli town constantly under threat.
Dir. Philipp Jedicke
82 min | Germany | Documentary
Grammy-winning composer and entertainer Chilly Gonzales zags between rap, electro and solo piano music, along the way inspiring and collaborating with Feist, Jarvis Cocker, Peaches, Daft Punk and Drake.
Dir. Guy Nattiv
110 min | United States | Narrative
The full-length version of the short film that just garnered Guy Nattiv the first Israeli Oscar win since 1978 centers on the true story of Bryon Widner, a young man raised by skinheads, now desperately trying to turn his back on hatred.
Dir. Aviva Kempner
98 min | United States | Documentary
Dynamic filmmaker Aviva Kempner delivers the first feature-length documentary about Moe Berg, the enigmatic and brilliant baseball player who turned spy for the OSS during WWII.
Dirs. Nicholas ChampeauxGilles Porte
106 min | France | Documentary
Nelson Mandela’s story seized center stage during the Rivonia trial in 1963-1964. He, alongside eight others, faced the death penalty. To a man, they stood firm and turned the tables on the state: just as they were on trial, so too was South Africa’s apartheid regime.
Dir. Micah Smith
70 min | Israel | Documentary
Sustainable Nation follows three extraordinary individuals doing their part to bring sustainable water access to an increasingly thirsty planet, using solutions developed in water-poor Israel.
Discussion Documentary Narrative
The 9th annual exploration of the daily lives and challenges of Arab Citizens of Israel features screenings of two mid-length films—Freedom Train and Be/Longing—followed by a conversation with the main subject of Be/Longing, Amal Rihan and JDC Israel Tevet’s Director of Employment Programs for Arabs and for Career Advancement, Suzan Hasan.
“A lot of the musical vocabulary, a lot of the techniques I use when I’m playing Jewish music translate really well to playing [Brazilian] choro music”
–Eric Stein, Tio Chorinho
Dir. Nikolaus Leytner
108 min | Germany | Narrative
A tender tale of a young man’s friendship with Sigmund Freud (Bruno Ganz) during the Nazi occupation of Vienna.
Dir. Ondřej Trojan
144 min | Czech Republic | Narrative
Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Ondřej Trojan (Zelary) presents a fascinating historical drama revolving around Zdeněk Toman, a controversial and singular figure in Czech politics.
Dir. Samuel Patthey
6 min | Switzerland | Short
Tel Aviv as seen through the eyes of a Swiss art student who spends six months in the city, documenting his experiences in an animated journal.
Dir. Katia Lom
8 min | United Kingdom | Short
A reflection on the nature of time and memory based on the true story of the director’s family escaping the build up to what became known as “The Slánský Trials,” the first explicitly anti-Semitic show trial in Eastern Europe.
Bar Crawl Shorts Program
Joining together our three loves—good people, good movies, and good drinks—we present a cinematic pub crawl featuring films from the JxJ short series Diverse or Di-Tryin’.
Dir. Eliran Malka
99 min | Israel | Narrative
The underdog story of the founding of the Sephardi Haredi political party, Shas, is a crowd-pleasing comedy-drama with a powerful message.
Dir. Iris Zaki
70 min | Israel | Documentary
Despite their initial hesitation, settlers from various backgrounds open up and engage in honest, surprising, and sometimes funny conversations, providing a fresh take on Israeli reality from both sides of the Green Line.
Dir. Mackenzie S. Bates
7 min | United States | Short
In the wake of the Warsaw Uprising, a young Jewish girl meets a mysterious old woman and learns about the importance of storytelling and hope.
Dir. Tal Pesses
52 min | Israel | Documentary
Behind the heavy metal doors of an old Jerusalem bomb shelter, there lies a tiny animation studio, where the children of Russian immigrants meet weekly to create a colorful carnival of monsters and earthquakes.
Dir. Michal Aviad
93 min | Israel | Narrative
With her husband’s restaurant business in jeopardy, a mother of three gets a job as assistant to a powerful realtor, and must fight back against his sexual advances and workplace harassment.
When Yankl, the town drunk and a notorious philanderer, gets married, everyone predicts that it won’t last. Everyone, that is, except Yankl’s young wife.
This evening features a play reading as part of Theater J’s Yiddish Theater Lab, dedicated to preserving and reviving the forgotten literature of the Yiddish Theater.
“[Yemen Blues] sound like an Arabic pop orchestra accompanying serpentine melodies, or a North African trance group driving a modal riff” –The New York Times
“[Nani is a] breathtaking artist, her ballads go under your skin” –Frankfurter Allgemeine, DE
Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion, the creators and stars of the award-winning Yiddish comedy web series YidLife Crisis, mix skits, discussion and screenings and use the “trojan horse” of comedy to bring Yiddish and yiddishkayt to the fore and engage the topic of Jewish identity for all–from a young 20s and 30s crowd through to those 65 and over.