Film Picks From the 2011 Miami Jewish Film Festival

Sixty Jews recently meet at a Utah resort to discuss what it means to be Jewish in 2011. The identity summit, Reboot, included some notable pop culture makers (Jenji Kohan, creator of "Weeds," and Ben Greenman, an editor at The New Yorker). One its founders Rachel Levin told the New York Times: "For so many years, being a Jew was defined by the Holocaust on one side and Israel on the other." So the retreat redirects the lens to more current issues: Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ and eventual anti-Semitic slurs, and whether folks can unplug enough to observe the Sabbath.

The 14th Miami Jewish Film Festival, running this Saturday to January 30, is screening the requisite Holocaust and Israel-themed films. But there's also a film about a Yeshiva baseball team, a Grammy-winning klezmer band, and a Miami-specific phenomenon: Jubanos. Still, this is a film festival and the point is to see intoxicating narratives unfold around breath-taking images. Here are the most promising films at this year's MJFF. We'll leave the identity crisis to Reboot.

Protektor

The most critically acclaimed of the festival, Protektor is Israel's submission to the Best

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Foreign Language Film category of the Academy Awards and the winner of

the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award at the Denver International Film

Festival. Described as visually stunning, the noir tale follows a

husband and wife in Prague just before German occupation in 1938. It screens once during the festival -- Wednesday, January 26, at 9 p.m. at Regal Cinemas South Beach.

The Klezmetics: On Holy Ground

We'd like to tell you about a band formed in New York's East Village in

the mid-'80s. Nope, it's not the Tom Tom Club. Try The Klezmetics, a

clarinet-rich, accordion-heavy, Grammy-winning klezmer band. In the

past, the band has collaborated with Itzhak Perlman and Ben Folds Five.

Their recent album fuses Yiddish tunes with Woody Guthrie. The band is

also the subject of a documentary, The Klezmetics: On Holy Ground, that

is the climax of this year's Miami Jewish Film Festival. On January 26, the director

will appear at the 6 p.m screening at Regal Cinemas South Beach 18, followed by a klezmer jam afterparty at Next@19th.

Berlin '36

At the 1936 Summer Olympics, Jewish athlete Gretel Bergmann was replaced

by the Nazi regime with an athlete later discovered to be a man. Based on a true story, the film holds that Gretel and her

replacement developed a strong friendship and do their best to thwart

the Nazi's scheme. Since the film was released in Germany in 2009, the

country's popular weekly magazine Der Spiegel has challenged the facts

of the film, claiming government officials didn't know the high jumper

was male until after the games. Catch the film's Miami premiere when it screens this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. at Bill Cosford Cinema and at 2 p.m on January 27 at Regal Cinemas South Beach.

The 14th annual CAJE Miami Jewish Film Festival runs Saturday through

January 30 at Bill Cosford Cinema, Regal Cinema South Beach, and Sunrise

Cinema Intracoastal Mall.

Tickets cost $11 general admission, and $9 seniors and students. Call 888-585-3456 or visit miamijewishfilmfestival.com.

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