French Offerings at the 25th Washington Jewish Film Festival

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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!

 

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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-ce_qu'on_a_fait_au_bon_dieu-_posterQu’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.

images**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.

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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.

Go Habs Go: Poutine Pizza for Game 7

I don’t know who’s been doing poutine’s PR lately, but Quebec’s classic dish has been ALL over the news. There was this poutine porn in Huffington Post last month. A poutine burger was NPR’s featured Sandwich Monday recently. And then there was all the hoopla that accompanied the opening of Chicago’s Big Cheese Poutinerie, a restaurant dedicated entirely to, you guessed it, poutine!  Most recently, poutine popped up in this great Wall Street Journal article. The (Canadian) author, Adam Leith Gollner, laments the rise of enhanced poutine, topped with foie gras for example, arguing that poutine should remain, at its core, the greasy kind of dish that’s consumed when cold or inebriated. Or both 😉

I spent four glorious years in Montreal as an undergrad at McGill University. Often cold. And often inebriated. I’ve come to appreciate poutine and wish it were more easily available here in D.C. I did have really good poutine at the Canadian embassy once. And some not so good from Trader Joe’s. With my beloved Canadiens gearing up for a very important game 7 against the Bruins tonight in the Stanley Cup playoffs, I decided  to make my own poutine! Actually, I decided to make poutine pizza, which Adam Gollner would probably have frowned upon…

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Poutine pizza is actually super easy to make. The hardest part is probably finding the cheese curds! (some local farmers’ market will have cheese curds occasionally but your best bet is to make your own or order them.) For the rest, I used store-bought everything: crust, gravy, frozen fries… of course you could be more ambitious and make everything from scratch. I just wanted something quick, simple and sort of Canadian to enjoy while I screamed at my TV! I pre-cooked the fries and the crust, then layered them with the cheese curds and cooked that until the curds got nice and melty. Towards the end, I added the gravy and cooked it for another minute or two. I paired it with, what else, a Molson Canadian. That was also hard to find in D.C. I looked at all the nice liquor store that I thought might carry a decent selection of “international” beers. Of course, Molson is not really nice nor international. It’s owned by Coors now. So I should have known I would end up finding a 6-pack at Walmart!

Are you watching the Stanley Cup playoffs tonight or will you be tuning in to watch the Wizards play? I’ll be cheering for both, I mean, there is a Frenchie on the team after all!

 

Celebrating Poutine Week… in Washington, D.C.

I think I may have mentioned it a few times on this blog, I used to live in Montreal, Quebec. For 4 years. You’d think this would mean I’d be able to weather this cold snowy winter like a champ, right? Well, not quite. But it means I have learned to appreciate Quebec delicacies like shish taouk and poutine (and Molson beer… let’s be honest). Montreal has changed a lot since I lived there. It’s still cold. But it now has macaron shops and poutine week. POUTINE WEEK!!! Are you kidding me!?!?

It’s basically like our Restaurant Week except between February 1st and February 7th, there are 30 restaurants that offer special poutines for $10. Do you have any idea how all over that I would have been when I was a college student? (hint: a lot all over). Ok, I don’t know if I would have been all over the Poutine au Phoque at Au Cinquième Péché… but otherwise, yes, all over that. Check out all the poutines on Thrillist and drool with me….

Poutine week

But now I live in the United States… and yes, we have the Canadian Embassy here in Washington, D.C. It’s got great views of the U.S. capitol and, occasionally, I have had poutine there. But most of the most time, it’s really hard to find poutine in the District. Well, apparently it’s not that hard according to this recent WaPo article but may I remind you, I used to live in the land of poutine, ChurchKey‘s Disco Fries and A&D Poutine Potato Chips aren’t gonna cut it. It’s even hard to find cheese curds to try and make your own poutine at home 😦

So when I heard that Trader Joe’s started selling poutine (thanks for the tip, Eater), I was, at the risk of repeating myself,  ALL OVER that. I mean, who needs poutine week… when I can basically pour myself a glass of Sleeman Honey Brown, stream Starbuck on Netflix and de-freeze some Trader Joes‘ Poutine?

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Ok, while Starbuck is a great movie, the poutine from Trader Joe‘s is only OK. There wasn’t enough gravy, the fries were too soft and the curds tasted almost like mozzarella. So yeah, maybe I do need Poutine Week. Le sigh.