Joyeux anniversaire to the Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF)! This year, the WJFF celebrates its 25th year with 11 days of film programming, and cultural events exploring the diversity of the Jewish experience across the globe. Between February 19 and March 1, 2015, D.C. audiences will be treated to some 100 movie screenings and related events across the DMV, including many premieres and an exciting roster of filmmaker and cast appearances. To honour the festival’s past, former festival directors have also selected a special line up of retrospective film screenings that includes the heartbreaking classic Louis Malle film Au Revoir les Enfants (on Feb 21 at the Goethe Institut and Feb 24 at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center.) Here are some of the French or French-language films that will be shown at this year’s festival:
Yidlife Crisis (episode 1 & 2 on February 21, 8:30PM and episode 3 & 4 on March 1 at 4:30PM, both screenings at the Goethe Institut) ~ this series is actually in yiddish, but I wanted to include it in the list because it’s set in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood and is directed by/stars a McGill University graduate, like myself. Check out the first episode below. It’s about Yom Kippur and is set at la Banquise. Chaimie orders his poutine with sauce on the side to try and make it more kosher friendly…. and it’s hilarious!
Belle et Sebastien (February 28, 12:30PM at DCJCC and March 1 at 11AM at the DCJCC) ~ I actually really want to see this heartwarming feature film adaptation of a sweet TV cartoon I used to watch as a kid. Belle et Sebastien tells the beautiful story of the friendship between a boy and dog, with the German occupation and the French Alps as backdrop. Actually, I don’t remember there being Nazis in the TV series… so I guess they changed a few things here and there… but there’s still a beautiful friendship between a boy and his dog and it’s you have kids, it’s probably one of the most family-friendly offering at the festival.
Qu’est qu’on a fait au bon Dieu/Serial (Bad) Weddings (February 21, 8:45PM at the DCJCC and February 24, 8:30PM at the Avalon) ~ this movie was a commercial hit in France and it looks really funny. I’m not sure it’s entirely PC since it plays off, and then upends, racial stereotypes of all stripes. It’s about parents who just want their youngest daughter to marry a catholic boy after the first three married successively a Jewish man, an Arab man and an Asian man.
**Just added** A special screening of Felix et Meira (February 25, 8:45Pm at the DCJCC) ~ a Canadian drama also set in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood. It’s a forbidden love story that has explores love across cultural divides as a married Hasidic Jewish woman and a penniless, atheist francophone trying to find a meaningful connection despite all of their differences.
The Last Metro (February 24, 12:15PM at DCJCC and February 25, 7PM at the Goethe Institut) and Au Revoir les Enfants (February 21, 6:30PM at the Goethe Institut and February 24, 3PM at the DCJCC) ~ classic French films that are worth seeing over and over and are part of the special line up of retrospective films. You can actually stream Au Revoir on hulu as well.
Beyond the films, there’s also some events happening in parallel to the film festival, like a special dinner at DGS delicatessen on February 21, following the screening of Deli Man.
Are you looking forward to seeing any films at the 25th Washington Jewish Film Festival? You can look up a full line up of all the movies showing right here.