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The 2008 Charlotte Jewish Film Festival Announces Film Schedule

Charlotte, NC, January 21, 2008 - The fourth annual Charlotte Jewish Film Festival will bring the best in Jewish cinema from around the world to a theater near you March 1st-8th. This year’s slate of 11 films runs the gamut from shorts and documentaries to features, dramas and comedies: There’s sure to be something for everyone!

These films may illuminate global Jewish experiences in their myriad forms, but the underlying themes are universal to all: The international hot-button issue of immigration, the healing power of interfaith dialogue, the triumph of the human spirit over physical disability…and more.

Prior to March 1st there will be a pre-festival screening of the acclaimed documentary Rape of Europa, Tuesday, February 26th at the Mint Museum of Art, 2730 Randolph Road. This powerful film chronicles the systematic theft, deliberate destruction and miraculous survival of Europe’s art treasures during the reign of the Nazis. Narrated by Joan Allen, the audience is taken on an epic journey through seven countries and into a violent whirlwind of fanaticism, greed and warfare that threatened to wipe out the artistic heritage of Europe. Winner of Best in Fest at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, this film is sponsored by the Mint Museum of Art and will be screened at 7:00 PM. FREE and open to the public.

The Festival will officially commence Saturday, March 1, at Ballantyne Village Theatre, Johnston Rd. and Ballantyne Commons Pkwy, with What a Wonderful Place, sponsored by the Charlotte Chapter of Hadassah. Winner of numerous international accolades as well as four Israeli Academy Awards, this hard-hitting, provocative film depicts the difficulties faced by foreign workers smuggled into Israel living on the fringes of society. A mosaic of subplots woven skillfully together, the film raises profound questions about the complexities of immigration and the universal need for human dignity. At the core of this powerful film is Franco, a conflicted ex-cop reduced to human trafficking of Soviet women, who is touched by a deepening relationship with Jana, a Ukrainian woman trying to earn money for her daughter back home. Writer and director Eyal Halfon will present his award-winning film and take audience questions. Tickets are $18 and include a lavish dessert reception at 7:30 p.m. prior to the 8:15 p.m. screening. Adult content, 18 and over.

The second day of the Festival, March 2nd, will feature two documentaries presented at the Levine Jewish Community Center, 5007 Providence Road. The 2:00 p.m. matinee is Toots, the story of Toots Shor, owner of America’s greatest saloon during its Golden Age. Sinatra and DiMaggio, Ruth and Costello, Eisenhower and Nixon, for 30 years they made their way to Toots’ watering hole on New York’s West 51st Street. Directed by his granddaughter, Toots is a compelling portrait of the man who became unlikely den mother to the American heroes of yesteryear. Tickets are $8.

The Sunday evening film, Souvenirs, at 7:00 PM, follows the touching father-son journey to find flesh and blood “souvenirs” the dad may have left behind with local girls in Amsterdam while serving in the legendary Jewish Brigade during WWII. Winner of Best Documentary 2006, Israeli Academy of Film. Tickets are $12.

On Tuesday, March 4th at 7:30 PM, Temple Beth El and Mecklenburg Ministries will cosponsor an interfaith evening of film and discussion at Temple Beth El, 5101 Providence Road. God and Allah Need to Talk: A Film for Healing and Reconciliation is being hailed as a must-see interfaith film, an encounter that inspires and unites people of all ages, religions and cultures. Dr. Maria Hanlin of Mecklenburg Ministries will facilitate a panel discussion after the screening. FREE and open to the public.

The Light Factory will sponsor the inspirational and light-hearted 39 Pounds of Love on Wednesday, March 5th. Ami Ankilewitz was given six years to live at birth…. but at 34 years of age journeys to America to pursue his dreams. If anyone can teach us to carpe diem it’s 39-pound Ami. Winner of Best Documentary, Palm Beach Film Festival, this life-affirming documentary is being shown at the Mint Museum of Art at 7:00 PM. Tickets are $12.

Thursday afternoon, March 6th, there will be a repeat screening of Rape of Europa at the Levine JCC at 1:00 p.m. Don’t miss this film! Tickets are $8. Thursday evening, the Festival returns to the Ballantyne Village Theatre at 7:00 p.m. with the offbeat comedy Riki Riki. Riki is a 30-year-old confused art student whose life is turned upside down when her fiancée admits he has been cheating on her. Life becomes even more bizarre when a rock band moves into Riki’s apartment and she begins to date her nerdy professor. Could this be happily ever after? Winner of Best Feature Film at the World of Comedy International Film Festival, Toronto. Tickets are $12. Adult content, 18 and over.

The Festival will close 7:30 PM Saturday, March 8th, at the Ballantyne Village Theatre with the British film Sixty Six, sponsored by the Levine JCC. It is the summer of ’66 and all of England is consumed with World Cup Fever…except for 12-year-old Bernie who is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah, which inauspiciously falls on the same day as the World Cup final match. Filled with pathos and humor, Sixty Six is a film that resonates with people of all ages. Tickets are $12.

Tickets go on sale February 1st and can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets online at www.charlottejewishfilm.com or by phone at 1-800-838-3006. All prices include fees. Individual tickets as well as weeklong passes are available. Advance purchase is strongly encouraged as last year’s Festival sold out. For more information, contact info@charlottejewishfilm.com.

The 2008 Charlotte Jewish Film Festival is brought to you by the Charlotte Chapter of Hadassah and the Levine Jewish Community Center. This project was made possible, in part, through a Community Cultural Connections grant from the Arts & Science Council and the Grassroots Program of the North Carolina Arts Council (a state agency). Funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte also supports the Festival. Corporate sponsors include Diamonds Direct South Park, Hearst Service Center, Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, Mercer, and White Rhino.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Co-Directors of the 2008 Charlotte Jewish Film Festival, Debby Block and Jodi Werner Greenwald. info@charlottejewishfilm.com, www.charlottejewishfilm.com.

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