With the Washington Jewish Film and Music Festivals rapidly approaching, we checked in with the creative team at JxJ to get an inside look at the stories this year’s festivals tell, the ways that art informs our connection with Jewishness, and the next generation of Jewish storytelling.

Samuel: What overarching story do you see this year’s festival telling?

Yael: It’s about bringing people back to movies, to concerts, and to each other. The content has that incredible ability. There’s nothing like art and culture to bring people together.

Lena: A lot of people are still grappling with how to build and grow connections after so long in a containment mindset. What used to feel challenging feels almost impossible now. I see this festival’s story as investigating how those connections outside ourselves are made and what they mean. Whether it’s through romance or sense of duty or grief, movies don’t work without human connection. Sometimes, it’s portraying connection as a struggle, but that can be cathartic, too. Like, yes, I also think this sucks!

Jacob: I keep coming back to this phrase: ‘new lenses.’ Camera puns aside, so many of these films focus on exploring new sides of the Jewish condition. They also talk about empathy. In this post-quarantine world that we are still struggling to live in, stories about empathy and connection feel more relevant and more necessary than ever.

Read the rest at Gather DC