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AJFF In Conversation: The Jewish Film Podcast
22 minutes | a day ago
What to Watch in April 2021
Welcome back to a new season of AJFF In Conversation: The Jewish Film Podcast. Hosts Sara and Brad are back from the 2021 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and brief post-festival hiatus feeling rested and ready to bring you more interviews, deep-dive discussions, and much more, beginning this week with some recommendations of what Jewish movies and media to watch. From Hollywood historical dramas to classic sitcoms and past AJFF documentaries, this month’s episode includes a variety of suggestions for your viewing pleasure both at-home or, finally, in theatres, for those who are comfortable returning to cinemas.
60 minutes | a month ago
All About the AJFF Jury
Each year, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival bestows special recognition to outstanding films and filmmakers participating in its annual international celebration of the cinema arts. In Competition titles vie for honors across six Jury Prize categories, including Best Narrative, Documentary, and Short, as well as Building Bridges, Human Rights, and Emerging Filmmaker. These prestigious prizes are deliberated by an esteemed panel of industry luminaries, including fellow filmmakers, actors, film critics and journalists, academics, and exceptional students. Joining our In Conversation podcast to talk about the importance of Jury Prizes to audiences, filmmakers and the festival’s mission, we’ll talk with AJFF Jury chairperson Gabe Wardell. It’s also a chance to learn about which AJFF films are in contention this year, our impressive roster of jurors, plus a preview of the big Awards Show, coming up Wednesday March 10. So join host Sara and her special guest as we get ready to find out who the winners are!
67 minutes | 2 months ago
Q&As at AJFF: Kiss Me Kosher
One of the biggest silver linings of a hybrid edition of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is the ability to bring film talent together from all around the world in an even more robust way than in a typical year. There is perhaps no better example of that than our opening night. We kicked off the 2021 AJFF with the North American premiere of boundary-crossing (and bridge building) romantic comedy, Kiss Me Kosher, and were able to virtually host talent from across multiple time zones for a lively conversation that spanned the globe, from LA to Hawaii to Tel Aviv to Berlin. Listen to the Q&A which featured writer/director, Shirel Peleg, producer Christine Guenther, and the film’s stars, Moran Rosenblatt, Luise Wolfram, John Carroll Lynch, and Rivka Michaeli, and moderated by CNN Correspondent Holly Firfer. And you’ll hear from hosts Brad and Sara about some other guest highlights and upcoming not-to-be-missed panel discussions, and how to watch them.
36 minutes | 2 months ago
AJFF at the Drive-In
Though audiences will experience most of this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in the Virtual Cinema, organizers were also committed to finding fun and innovative ways to safely bring the community together. Thus, plans for a night at the drive-in were born! Three nights, actually. Thanks to an exclusive partnership with Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the 2021 AJFF will feature screenings at the 11-acre greenspace, The Home Depot Backyard. This safe-but-shared moviegoing experience, set against a spectacular backdrop, will include Young Professionals Night and the SXSW comedy of discomfort, Shiva Baby, plus a pair of campy, kitschy 80s classics: Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs and the musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors. To learn more about the drive-in experience AJFF has in store for you at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, including some special extras, join our latest podcast as host Sara is joined by our drive-in event planners, Film AJFF Programming Manager Shellie Schmals and Event Operations Manager Chris Holland.
46 minutes | 2 months ago
Professors' Picks 2021
We’re counting down to the start of this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, and here to help you get ready for our hybrid 21st edition. By now, you may have perused the film lineup in the AJFF program guide or website. With such a diverse array of international and independent movies to pick from, it’s not always easy to choose. Our latest podcast turns to two trusted voices: Emory Film Studies Chair Dr. Matthew Bernstein and AJFF Board member, as well as AJFF Film Evaluation Co-Chair and Emory Spanish and Jewish Studies Professor Dr. Hazel Gold. As you prepare to make your movie picks, we can’t think of better festival friends to guide you through the 38 feature narrative and documentary films (and don’t forget the shorts!), coming soon to the best seat in your house.
29 minutes | 3 months ago
A Chat With AJFF Leadership
Our hybrid 21st edition of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is nearly here! The movie lineup has been unveiled online, program guides are arriving in mailboxes…and now, it’s time for you to get ready to fest! With so much to explore and anticipate, there is no better way to usher in the annual festival than to hear directly from our very own festival leadership. Join podcast host Sara for a conversation with AJFF Board president and vice president, Max Leventhal and Sari Earl, as well as AJFF Executive Director Kenny Blank. They’ll share their reflections on the extraordinary challenges of mounting a film festival during the pandemic, as well as the festival experiences they are most excited to share with the community. It’s a unique behind-the-scenes vantagepoint on what has been an extraordinary undertaking and labor of love in service to you, our devoted audience.
37 minutes | 3 months ago
Get Ready to Fest!
The 21st edition of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is right around the corner. It’s going to be a film festival unlike any other. As anticipation builds, so do the burning questions. How will this year’s film festival be different, and what do I need to do to get ready? Get the inside scoop on what to expect with our reimagined festival experience, including the Virtual Cinema, before program guides hit mailboxes and tickets go on sale. We’ll break it all down with In Conversation host Brad Pilcher, joined by our own AJFF Special Projects Manager, Sarah Davenport. After this podcast, you will definitely be ready to fest!
39 minutes | 4 months ago
Film in Georgia: 2020 and a Look Forward
It may be some time before the full global economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is fully understood. Certainly among those hard hit sectors is the world of entertainment, including what has been a booming film industry in Georgia. As a proud champion of the film ecosystem of our city and state, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is deeply appreciative of the countless artists and other workers whose livelihoods depend on the continued success of this near-$10 billion dollar industry. With the COVID crisis continuing to hinder Hollywood’s return to business, we close this challenging year with a look back at how local film and TV productions have been impacted. Our latest podcast also looks ahead to questions now facing the creative industries, such as studio COVID safety protocols and upcoming action in the legislature that could shape the future of the state’s film tax incentives. An amazing panel joins hosts Sara and Brad, including deputy commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment office Lee Thomas, Georgia Production Partnership governmental affairs lead Peter Stathopoulos, and Beth Talbert of Eagle Rock Studios Atlanta.
59 minutes | 4 months ago
Festival of Lights on Film
Let’s face it: if you’re looking for a great Hanukkah movie to celebrate with this winter, you’re likely to be left out in the cold. While Christmas movies are a genre of their own, it’s hard to credibly name one Hollywood offering that could be called a Hanukkah classic. Could it be that the only "true" Hanukkah movies in existence are Adam Sandler’s animated comedy Eight Crazy Nights and lesser known cult classic The Hebrew Hammer? And, do these films actually capture how the holiday’s true origins and traditions? Could a Disney Channel original movie made for kids actually feature the most authentic cinematic representation of Hanukkah? All three of these examples are nearly twenty years old now. It’s time to confront the truth about why it’s so hard to find a decent movie about the Jewish holiday. In our latest podcast, we’ll ask founder and editor of feminist Jewish culture site Alma, Molly Tolsky, whether it will take a miracle to find an authentic cinematic representation of the Miracle of Lights.
45 minutes | 4 months ago
What About Shorts?
For most audiences, a night out at the movies means a full course meal. But increasingly, tastes are growing for the diversionary delights and emotional payoffs that come with the oft overlooked short film format. The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has long proudly given a platform to shorts, a subgenre every bit as powerful, compelling and innovative as any feature-length film. With another banner year of short films on tap for our 21st annual festival in February, it’s time to stop giving short shrift to short films. In our latest podcast, we give these bite size movie morsels their due, exploring everything from the creative considerations that go into shorts filmmaking, to the unique challenges and opportunities for programmers, and how audiences accustomed to Hollywood epics can grow their appreciation for the special joys that come with shorter attention spans. Hosts Sara and Brad welcome two amazing guests to the “In Conversation” studio: filmmaker and former Sundance programmer Roberta Munroe, author of “How Not to Make a Short Film,” as well as Emory film professor and shorts film curator Nsenga Burton.
32 minutes | 4 months ago
Be Our Guest
The best movies don’t just entertain while engendering a visceral emotional response, but also serve as a spark for stimulating conversation. The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival seeks to foster and amplify those conversations, bringing together the community in dialogue around the film arts and the important issues of our time. Festival screenings often feature the participation of filmmakers, actors, academics, authors, journalists and other experts. These curated conversations enhance the moviegoing experience, while fulfilling the AJFF mission to build bridges of understanding. In our latest podcast, we’ll share insights into AJFF’s programming philosophy when it comes to guest speakers: what is the value and importance of hearing from film artists and other voices at the film festival, and the larger role of community conversation in transforming an otherwise passive experience into a meaningful give and take of ideas. Host Sara Glassberg is joined by AJFF Guest Programming Co-Chairs journalist Dave Schechter and Emory Ethics professor Jonathan Crane.
40 minutes | 5 months ago
Jewish Film & TV to be Thankful For
In a year that has been filled with unprecedented challenges, it’s all the more important to find things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Fortunately, when it comes to the world of Jewish film and television, there’s plenty to be grateful for. Join hosts Sara and Brad as they chat about just a few of their favorite TV and movie moments and milestones from 2020. Plus, if you’re looking for some entertainment options to complete your holiday plans, we’ve got some outstanding movie recommendations, both available now and soon-to-be new releases.
60 minutes | 5 months ago
AJFF Cinderella Stories with Menemsha
Over the past twenty years, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has showcased countless films from all around the world that have gone on to have incredible, impressive journeys -- from long and lucrative theatrical runs to Academy Awards recognition to continuing to build bridges of understanding along the festival circuit. Many of these AJFF Cinderella stories come from film distributor, Menemsha Films. There is no better guest to help us uncover and understand these films’ journeys than Menemsha’s very own founder and president, Neil Friedman, and with AJFF Film Programming Manager Shellie Schmals co-hosting. Together with Neil, Shellie and Sara will not only discuss the successes around films like cross-cultural comedy Dough starring Jonathan Pryce, or sports documentary Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel, but also films that are perhaps at just the beginning of their journeys, like Shared Legacies: The African American-Jewish Civil Rights Alliance, all of which have screened at AJFF in years past. Plus, we will chat with Neil about Menemsha’s own journey as well, from its beginnings as a film distribution company to its new streaming platform Chai Flicks and everything in between.
47 minutes | 5 months ago
Aaron Wolf: One Filmmaker’s Journey
A longtime friend of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Aaron Wolf has an eclectic young Hollywood career both in front of and behind the camera. Based in Los Angeles, he wears many showbiz hats: narrative and documentary filmmaker, writer, actor and co-founder of a full-service production company. You can also add podcast host, improv comedian, juggler, magician and voiceover talent to the list. Aaron has not only made a name for himself, but instills his work with a generous spirt and Jewish ethos. His short film, The Walk co-starring Peter Riegert, was featured at the 2015 AJFF, followed by his acclaimed 2017 documentary Restoring Tomorrow, which chronicles the restoration of Los Angeles’ Wilshire Boulevard Temple. His latest film might seem like a complete departure: a fun throwback horror movie entitled Tar, now playing on demand and in select theaters. For a fresh and inspiring perspective on an emerging industry talent, join host Sara Glassberg for her conversation with Aaron about his personal and creative journey.
46 minutes | 6 months ago
Oy the Horror!
Halloween is here, a perfect time to spook ourselves with an immersion into the world of horror movies that tell uniquely Jewish stories. Israeli filmmakers have been among those most recently tackling the horror genre with such AJFF titles as the zombie flick JeruZalem, and a retelling of the classic folktale The Golem. A critically-acclaimed title from the Toronto International Film Festival, Demon, offers a modern-day take on the dybbuk legend while reflecting on Poland’s historical sins. From monsters and myths, to themes of religious or cultural identity, the collection of cinematic Jewish horror is surprising in its breadth and depth. And like the best horror movies, with psychological underpinnings rooted in our deepest fears and traumas. Joining our podcast conversation is B. Sonenreich, Editor-in-Chief of Oz Magazine (who has published and presented on the topic of the Shoah within horror cinema), and author Ed Simon who has written on Judaism and horror for publications like Tablet Magazine. Along with host Sara Glassberg, our special guests consider the theological and historical preoccupations of onscreen horror stories, and to what extent this genre is such an effective vehicle for exploring Jewish themes.
61 minutes | 6 months ago
The Politics of Aaron Sorkin and the West Wing
Joining us for this edition of AJFF In Conversation: The Jewish Film Podcast, is very special guest Eli Attie, whose own time in politics and natural writing talent helped shape the much-beloved The West Wing, created by Aaron Sorkin. This fall, Sorkin is back with The Trial of the Chicago 7, based on the infamous court proceedings of seven defendants charged with conspiracy for their protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. He is also gathering the cast of The West Wing for a reunion special in support of voter turnout. Forays into the political have been a mainstay of Sorkin's work, beginning with A Few Good Men and The American President. Even when his films and TV shows have focused on sports, showbiz, or social networks, the tinge of politics finds a way in. Before the 2020 election season comes to a close, we dissect Sorkin's political preoccupations, and his vision of political idealism and civic virtue, best personified in the fictional Bartlet administration.
58 minutes | 6 months ago
Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy
What do Meryl Streep, Jessica Chastain, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac all have in common? For over 50 years, Israeli-born Julliard drama teacher Moni Yakim has trained Hollywood’s most celebrated actors. This affectionate portrait takes us inside America's greatest performing arts school, while Moni's famous former students share reflections of the revered movement instructor. Watch the new documentary Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy, then listen to this conversation with Moni Yakim himself and his son, filmmaker Boaz Yakin. Moderated by Atlanta Opera Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun. This month's In Conversation webinar is presented in partnership with Actor's Express, Alliance Theatre, The Atlanta Opera, Aurora Theatre, Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company, and Rialto Center for the Arts.
73 minutes | 7 months ago
Profiles in Political Leadership
As we prepare to cast ballots in perhaps the most consequential election in U.S. history, what can cinematic profiles in leadership tell us about picking our future elected officials? From a big city mayor to British and Israeli Prime Ministers, political biographies are a hallmark of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. For our latest election-themed podcast, join host Brad Pilcher for a conversation with two of Atlanta’s best political journalists: Bill Nigut of Georgia Public Broadcasting and Denis O'Hayer of 90.1 FM WABE. We’ll go beyond ideology and policy to examine what the movies can reveal about the indispensable qualities of successful leaders, and lessons we can learn from these historical figures as we prepare to vote in the 2020 elections.
36 minutes | 7 months ago
Out on Film Sneak Peek
The fall festival season is already in full swing right here in Atlanta, including Out on Film, one of the oldest LGBTQ+ film festivals in the United States. In our latest podcast, we’ll get a preview of the 33rd annual edition of Out on Film with festival director Jim Farmer and board chair Craig Hardesty, including a couple of Jewish-themed titles our AJFF audiences won’t want to miss. Join host Sara Glassberg and her guests for a discussion of the current state and future of LGBTQ+ cinema, the intersection between LGBTQ+ and Jewish cinematic storytelling, and the role of festivals in bringing those stories to audiences.
57 minutes | 7 months ago
How to Build a Film Festival
The seasons are changing. And with the arrival of fall comes the most exciting and consequential time of year in the cinema industry: the major fall film festivals and the unofficial kickoff to awards season. For film critics, it’s a paradise of prestige movie releases and buzzy speculation as to which titles will go on to claim Oscar gold and a slot at next year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. There’s one person who has an insider perspective as both a critic and a programmer: our 2021 AJFF Film Evaluation Committee Co-Chair, Jason Evans, who’s also a longtime film critic/journalist. In our latest edition of the podcast, hosts Sara and Brad chat with Jason for a peek inside the selection process for the 21st edition of AJFF, as well as the larger landscape of film exhibition, festivals, and other aspects of the industry that may surprise you, especially in this most unusual year.
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