The 2020 Ger­sh­man Philadel­phia Jew­ish Film Fes­ti­val Fall Fest goes virtual

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'Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive' is part of the 40th GPJFF Fall Fest. (Image courtesy Shai Goldman.)
'Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive' is part of the 40th GPJFF Fall Fest. (Image courtesy Shai Goldman.)

The annual Gershman Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival (GPJFF) Fall Fest is going ahead in November as it normally does. For its 40th year, the lineup includes the usual mix of films about various aspects of the American Jewish experience, as well as films from Israel, about the Holocaust, and about food culture.

This year, like most local film festivals, GPJFF will be running in a virtual format, starting Saturday, November 7 through November 21.

Keeping the film rolling

Matthew Bussy, the GPJFF festival manager, told BSR in an interview that it was a foregone conclusion since the summer that the festival would go virtual. In addition, the festival will include five movies that were originally planned for inclusion in GPJFF's Lindy CineMondays series back in the spring.

The online festival will be using CineSend, the same online platform used by the recent Philadelphia Film Festival, which Bussy called "very similar to Netflix or Hulu," and it will even be available on a special Roku and Apple TV app. Bussy also said that nearly the entire lineup consists of films that have not been shown in Philadelphia before. One film, the Latvian film The Sign Painter, is having its North American premiere, on November 19.

The festival's opening night film is Golden Voices, a one-night-only virtual screening on Saturday, November 7. The Israeli narrative feature, directed by Evgeny Ruman, is in Russian and Hebrew, and tells the story of Soviet Jews who migrated to Israel in the 1990s.

They Ain't Ready For Me premieres on November 8. The documentary feature, directed by Brad Rothschild, tells the story of Tamar Manasseh, a Black Jewish woman in Chicago studying to become a rabbi while working as an activist against gun violence in the city.

On the same day, the festival will present Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive, directed by Yossi Asia and David Ofer. The film is a story of a young man in Israel who offers tours of terrorist attack sites and learns to confront his PTSD. Sublet, from Israeli director Eytan Fox, is about the same-sex romance between an American (John Benjamin Hickey) and an Israeli (Niv Nissim.)

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, a film directed by Caroline Link, premieres on November 9. The drama tells the story of a girl during World War II who loses her beloved pink rabbit.

On November 10 the festival streams Ruthy Pribar’s Asia, another film on the Tribeca Film Festival docket from the spring. The Israeli drama, with Unorthodox star Shira Haas, follows thirty-five-year-old Asia and her daughter Vika after they immigrate to Jerusalem from Russia. Finishing the Tribeca trifecta is Honeymood, a Centerpiece film, also from Israel, directed by Talya Lavie. It follows a bride and groom in conflict as they embark on an urban odyssey through the streets of Jerusalem.

Oren Jacoby’s documentary On Broadway chronicles Jews and their history on Broadway. It premieres on November 16. Later, Shared Legacies: The African American Jewish Civil Rights Alliance, a film that visits historical lessons of Black-Jewish cooperation. The festival closes November 21 with Breaking Bread, Beth Elise Hawk’s documentary about Dr. Nof Atanma-Ismaeel, a Muslim chef who won the Israeli version of Master Chef. It’s tagline? “Hummus has no borders.”

Several free events decorate the festival, including an online master class called “I Am Smart and Everyone Else is Wrong: Writing for Television” on November 15 at 1pm. The class will be taught by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, the creator of the acclaimed Netflix animated series Bojack Horseman.

What, When, Where, and Accessibility:

The Gershman Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival Fall Fest 2020 runs Saturday, November 7, through Saturday, November 21. Streams of the films are $15 each, with all-access passes available for $180 per week. Tickets are available online.

Some films are only available for Pennsylvania residents. Others are available for residents in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Some films have subtitles and/or other language audio options. Check each film to see what options are available.

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