Four women staring up at something above them, standing in front of an elaborately decorated doorway

Orna Banai, Sharon Elimelech, Evelin Hagoel, Einat Saruf and Yafit Asulin (from left) in The Women’s Balcony (photo courtesy of Menemsha Films)

A balcony collapses in a synagogue and sparks a women’s uprising in the first offering of the 2017 Columbus Jewish Film Festival. Despite venturing into the hazardous intersection of religion and gender politics, The Women’s Balcony has been described as a “feel-good comedy” that you don’t have to be Jewish to love.


Then again, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the majority of films in this year’s lineup, said festival co-chair Sandy Meizlish. Though some deal with the aftermath of the Holocaust and likely have the most resonance for Jewish audiences, he said, others have more universal appeal.


Meizlish cited Mr. Gaga, a documentary about Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, who pioneered a groundbreaking dance style called Gaga. The screening will be presented in conjunction with BalletMet, which recently performed one of Naharin’s works. “It was a compelling performance,” Meizlish said.


He listed several other festival offerings whose appeal should extend beyond the Jewish community. They include Forever Pure (about an Israeli soccer team that faces pushback after hiring two Muslim players), Who’s Going to Love Me Now? (about a gay Israeli man who finds acceptance only after moving to London) and Keep the Change (about a romantic relationship between two young people with autism).


Meizlish, who co-chairs this year’s event with Carol Glassman, has been a patron of the Jewish Film Festival since it was launched in 2004. “I’ve been to all the festivals since the beginning,” he said, “and this is clearly the most exciting and diverse festival that we’ve ever had.”


The schedule is listed below. Unless otherwise stated, tickets are $12, or $10 for Jewish Community Center members if purchased in advance. A “Reel Pass” to all screenings is $125. For more information or reservations, visit


Sunday, Nov. 5: The Women’s Balcony (Israel). A rift develops between the sexes after the women’s balcony collapses in an Orthodox synagogue. 6:30 p.m., Lincoln Theatre. Tickets: $35. Followed by a discussion with screenwriter Shlomit Nehama and a reception.

Tuesday, Nov. 7: 1945 (Hungary). Rumors fly when two Orthodox Jews appear in a village for the first time since Jews were deported during World War II. 7 p.m., Drexel Theatre.

Wednesday, Nov. 8: Fanny’s Journey (France/Belgium). The fact-based story is about a teenager and her sisters who are sent to an Italian foster home for Jewish children in 1943 but must flee for their lives after the Nazis arrive. 7 p.m., McConnell Arts Center.

Thursday, Nov. 9: Monsieur Mayonnaise (Australia). The documentary follows filmmaker and visual artist Philippe Mora as he prepares to create a comic book about his parents’ ordeals during the Holocaust. 7 p.m., Columbus Museum of Art. Followed by a discussion with Mora.

Sunday, Nov. 12, Drexel Theatre:

  ▪ 1 p.m.: Forever Pure (Israel/Norway/Russia/UK). The documentary examines the upheaval faced by an Israeli soccer team after it recruits two Muslim players.

  ▪ 3:30 p.m.: The Bloom of Yesterday (Austria/Germany). Romantic sparks develop when a German Holocaust researcher, grandson of a Nazi war criminal, is assigned a French intern whose grandmother was killed by the Nazis.

  ▪ 6 p.m.: Bang! The Bert Berns Story (USA). Filmmaker Brett Berns documents the life of his late father, the influential songwriter and producer behind hits such as Hang On Sloopy and Twist and Shout.  

Tuesday, Nov. 14: Mr. Gaga (Israel). The documentary looks at the career of choreographer Ohad Naharin, who pioneered a dance style known as Gaga. 7 p.m., Wexner Center for the Arts. Followed by a discussion (featuring the film’s producer and BalletMet artistic director Edwaard Liang) and reception.

Wednesday, Nov. 15: Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? (UK/Israel). The documentary introduces us to an HIV-positive Israeli man who finds acceptance only after moving to the UK and joining the London Gay Men’s Chorus. 7 p.m., CCAD Canzani Center. Followed by a discussion with co-director Barak Heymann and David Brown of the Harmony Project.

Thursday, Nov. 16: Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (USA). The documentary honors the careers of Harold and Lillian Michelson, who played influential behind-the-scenes roles in Hollywood. 7 p.m., JCC.

Sunday, Nov. 19, JCC:

  ▪ 5:30 p.m.: Love Is Thicker Than Water (UK). A cellist from a wealthy London family meets a Welsh bike messenger and photographer in a love story with Romeo and Juliet-style complications.

  ▪ 8 p.m.: Past Life (Israel/Poland). In a story inspired by true events, two sisters travel across Europe in an attempt to unravel their family’s troubling history.

Monday, Nov. 20: Keep the Change (USA). Two adults on the autism spectrum lurch toward romance despite stark personality differences. 6:30 p.m., McCoy Center for the Arts. Followed by a reception.


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