Miami Jewish Film Festival 2018's Must-Watch Films

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story Zeitgeist Films
The Miami Jewish Film Festival is back for its 21st year, celebrating Israel's 70th birthday and screening a massive collection of works over the next two weeks. Check out New Times' suggestions to guide you through the fest's lineup.
click to enlarge Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story - KINO LORBER
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
Kino Lorber
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (Alexandra Dean). If you love Old Hollywood, you'll know the name (and the gorgeous face of) Hedy Lamarr. You might not be aware that the fascinating actress was also an inventor who helped develop a radio guidance system that would eventually be used for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology. Bombshell pairs archival footage with the talking-head documentary format to deliver an exploration of Lamarr well worth watching.
Numerous interviews with her, including a major one that was found only in the past decade, reveal the interiority and intelligence of a woman who was often dismissed as one who dwelled too much on her looks. Though the film plays some of its notes with a heavy hand, director Dean keeps things engaging and well paced, enough so that you'll want to hear stories about Lamarr all night long. And in an era when life seems to be growing more frustrating and illogical by the day, Lamarr proves an optimistic voice from the past, telling the viewer: "Give the world the best you have and you'll be kicked into the teeth. Give the world the best you've got anyway."

Showing as a Florida premiere. 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 16, at O Cinema Miami Shores, 9806 NE Second Ave., Miami; 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 23, at Miami Beach Cinematheque, 1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; Tickets are sold out; rush-line tickets cost $13.
click to enlarge Filmworker - KINO LORBER
Kino Lorber
Filmworker (Tony Zierra). Plenty of works have explored the master Stanley Kubrick, but Filmworker's take is even more interesting. By letting Leon Vitali — Barry Lyndon actor turned Kubrick's assistant — tell his own story throughout the documentary, director Tony Zierra offers a fascinating look into how one man selflessly dedicated his life to another and, thus, became a true "filmworker" who embraced every aspect of filmmaking.

Filmworker simultaneously reinforces the idea of a Great Man making Great Films while taking down the notion that a Great Man can do everything on his own. Zierra blends footage from Vitali's life and from the films he's participated in, allowing the audience to truly get an idea of every single aspect of what he did. From cutting trailers to keeping schedules to finding lens flares, Vitali is genuinely interesting, and as one woman cites, "This industry has been built on people like this."

Showing as a Florida premiere. 7 p.m. Thursday, January 18, at Miami Beach Cinematheque, 1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; Tickets are sold out; rush-line tickets cost $13. The screening includes an extended conversation with Leon Vitali and Miami New Times contributor and IndieEthos film critic Hans Morgenstern.
click to enlarge The Cakemaker - STRAND RELEASING
The Cakemaker
Strand Releasing

The Cakemaker (Ofir Raul Graizer). Imagine if Patricia Highsmith had taken the concept of inserting oneself into the lives of others from her Ripley novels and developed it into a tender drama, full of romance and heartache, in the vein of The Price of Salt instead of a thriller. This is what you get with The Cakemaker. Sexuality is fluid, gazes are full of ache, and the only constant is the comfort that lies in baking a cake.

In this debut feature, director Ofir Raul Graizer delivers a film with little dialogue, a story told through looks, through touches, through silences between people. When Thomas' lover Oren dies, he travels from Berlin to Jerusalem and becomes a part of the life of his lover's widow, Anat. Tim Kalkhof and Sarah Adler each approach these two characters with nothing but tenderness, damaged from the loss of their mutual loved one but still willing to challenge the existences to which others are trying to limit them.

Their performances are entrancing, enhanced by the way Graizer allows scenes to go on for ages, leaving viewers to hold their breath in anticipation of what's to come in this melodrama. The Cakemaker is one of the best of the fest. It's a queer film that's as gorgeously performed as it is composed and one that explores how strange and beautiful love, in all of its forms, can be.

8:30 p.m. Monday, January 22, at O Cinema Miami Shores, 9806 NE Second Ave., Miami; 6 p.m. Tuesday, January 23, at Regal South Beach, 1120 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; Ofir Raul Graizer will be in attendance at both screenings to introduce the film and participate in a Q&A afterward.

The Miami Jewish Film Festival. Through January 25 at various venues; 305-573-7304; Tickets to most screenings cost $13.
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Juan Antonio Barquin is a Miami-based writer who programs the queer film series Flaming Classics and serves as co-editor of Dim the House Lights. Barquin aspires to be Bridget Jones.