Film & TV

Miami Jewish Film Festival Starts Community Cinema Series With Women in Hollywood

Another month, another exciting announcement from the Miami Jewish Film Festival on a new project to benefit the community. In partnership with Independent Lens Television Service (ITVS), WPBT2, the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, and Temple Beth Sholom, MJFF is launching the Community Cinema series, which will feature six films over the span of six months. All screenings are free and open to the public.

The six films featured in Community Cinema come from the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, and each will premiere ahead of its broadcast date. Of the six features, the first will be Makers: Women in Hollywood, this Thursday, October 23, at 8 p.m. at Temple Beth Sholom.

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This documentary, which expands on the critically acclaimed Makers: Women Who Make America, showcases the women of showbiz, from some of cinema's earliest pioneers to the women who are influencing and molding entertainment into what it is today.

Directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton and narrated by Julia Roberts, the episode features interviews with women who have a massive presence in both television and film, including Shonda Rhimes, Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Lena Dunham, Zooey Deschanel, and Jane Fonda.

"This new initiative is facilitated by the festival's constantly evolving platform and service, and indicates our dedication to being the community's conversation starter," festival director Igor Shteyrenberg says of the program. "It not only remarkably widens our possibilities for programming outreach but also sets us face-to-face with an obligation and responsibility toward presenting films with salient themes and topics that empower, inspire, and may effect change."

As such, the series is not simply a celebration of women, but rather an exploration of multiple pressing societal issues, all of which are accompanied by discussions following the screening. The other films -- Darius Clark Monroe's Evolution of a Criminal; Maro Chermayeff's A Path Appears; Llewellyn Smith, Christine Herbes-Sommers and Kelly Thomson's American Denial; Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly's The Homestretch; Thomas Miller and Kirk Marcolina's Limited Partnership -- cover a range of topics, including sex trafficking, queer partnerships, and the way America's racial tension has evolved over decades.

"What I love about this Community Cinema series is that it starts with pressing issues we face as Americans and, after the movie, enables those who attended to wrestle with the ethical and moral implications of what they've just seen, facilitated by our CAJE/Melton faculty members," says Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar, director of Adult Learning for CAJE and the Florence Melton School.

With so many festivals and producers leaning away from providing educational works, it's refreshing to see one that's pushing to deliver exactly that. MJFF is offering this programming to the community for free; now it's up to audiences to experience something different from their typical festival fare.

To attend, RSVP by emailing [email protected].

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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.