It'll become the stuff of Hollywood Trivia: What was Patrick Swayze's last film role, and where did it debut in Los Angeles? Answers: He played a Jewish attorney in the English-language Austrian film Jump. It debuted here at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival in 2009. Celebrating its fifth year the festival's opening-night movie, A Matter of Size , is a comedy about Jewish sumo wrestlers. Holy Rollers is a drama inspired by actual events, about Hasidic Jews smuggling ecstasy from Europe into the U.S. Included among the terrific documentaries is one about the Grammy Award-winning group the Klezmatics, another about Nazi Germany's propaganda filmmaker Veit Harlan, the only artist from the Nazi era to be charged with war crimes. It's a week's worth of edge-of-your-seat cinema, guaranteed to enlighten, rattle, entertain, and inspire. Festival Director Hilary Helstein (an acclaimed filmmaker herself) says, "There's an interconnection of Jewishness throughout the world, as communicated through the variety of films shown at our festival." (Hey, did you know there were Argentinian Jews, and people who practice Judaism in remote north-eastern India? Neither did I.) There'll be U.S. premieres, L.A. premieres, shorts, independent features, a selection of women's films, and a program of student films, with many filmmakers in attendance. The opening night gala will be nutty, with a visit by sumo wrestlers, a chance to sip a kosher scotch called Loch Chaim, and a diet-destroying dessert buffet. And leave it to the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival to have this as its tagline: "Our films aren't just selected, they're chosen!" Locations vary, as do prices.
May 8-13, 2010
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