Miami Jewish Film Festival 2017: This Year's Best Films

AKA Nadia
AKA Nadia
Courtesy of Go2Films
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The 2017 Miami Jewish Film Festival (MJFF) begins tonight, and from the opening screening at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center to the festival closing at O Cinema Miami Shores January 26, there are plenty of worthwhile films to catch. Choosing just a few always requires some tough decision-making, so why not let New Times help? Here are our top picks for what to check out at the festival:

Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story
Given a title this seemingly light, you might not expect much from Academy Award-nominated director Daniel Raim’s documentary. But this film, following Harold Michelson — a storyboard artist for directors such as Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols, and Alfred Hitchcock — and his wife Lillian, a researcher for films such as The Apartment and Rosemary’s Baby, is actually quite a surprise. It’s part love story and part tribute to these two fascinating careers that aren’t oft-explored in terms of film production, and a small but worthwhile viewing experience.

Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story screens January 18 at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, 1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.

AKA Nadia
Nominated for a multitude of Israel Ophir Awards, including best actress, screenplay, and cinematography, Tova Ascher’s debut feature is about a woman who seemingly has it all and is thrown for a loop when someone from her distant past reappears. Despite the common premise, Ascher has created a tense drama about the relationships between men and women and what people might do to save themselves.

AKA Nadia screens January 15 at O Cinema Miami Shores, 9806 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores; January 17 at Regal Cinemas South Beach, 1120 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; and January 22 at Temple Beth Am, 5950 SW 88th St., Pinecrest.

This year's lineup offers several films for music lovers, including a few with musical accompaniment. (Mr. Gaga , for example, will screen with an accompanying dance troupe.) Our choice, based solely on a gorgeously executed trailer entirely composed of a musical performance and seemingly menacing and longing glances from behind instruments, is Ori Sivan’s Harmonia. Best part: Three screenings are scheduled, and only one is sold out so far, so jump on it.

Harmonia screens January 14 at O Cinema Miami Shores, 9806 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores; January 21 at Temple Beth Am, 5950 SW 88th St., Pinecrest.; and January 24 at Regal Cinema South Beach, 1120 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach.

S for Stanley
Every cinephile digs Stanley Kubrick. It’s why every time a theater plays one of his films, the place is packed or sold out. Alex Infascelli’s feature documentary adds to the colorful legend surrounding the elusive filmmaker by allowing Kubrick’s personal assistant to tell us all about him. Emilio D’Alessandro, who worked with the Clockwork Orange filmmaker until his death, offers dozens of anecdotes about Kubrick and the way he worked, as well as the type of man he was, in this short but interesting documentary.

S for Stanley screens January 16 at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, 1130 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, and January 19 at Coral Gables Art Cinema, 260 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables.

S for Stanley
S for Stanley
Courtesy of RatPac Documentary Films

In Between
If there’s one film you should brave the rush line for, it’s In Between. Not only is this one of the most striking debut features around, but it’s also one of the best explorations of the battle between modernity and tradition to hit the screen in years. Maysaloun Hamoud’s feature is about three Palestinian women in Tel Aviv who navigate between the past and progress in the way they interact with men, family, drugs, work, school, and the rest of their lives. It’s all about what being a woman means — be it old-fashioned and shy, or brash and queer — and it sifts through comedy and drama with a natural movement that most debut filmmakers can’t nail.

In Between screens January 19 at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, 1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.

This film, on the shortlist for this year’s foreign-language Oscar nominations, is Russia’s submission for the Academy Awards. But don't let the latest political developments dissuade you from getting tickets. Andrei Konchalovsky’s latest is a World War II drama about love and loss. Konchalovsky has worked with the great Andrei Tarkovsky and recently won the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival. It’s a gorgeously shot black-and-white production you don’t want to miss.

Paradise screens January 18 at Regal Cinemas South Beach, 1120 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach.

Visit miamijewishfilmfestival.org.

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