Films galore, storytelling, heart and soul and so much more- that’s what you can expect at this year’s annual Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival. Organized by the newly renamed Philadelphia Jewish Film and Media (PJFM), the festival runs November 7th – 20th as a hybrid of both in-person attendance and live streaming. Founded in 1980 at the historic Gershman Y, this is the nation’s second longest-running Jewish film festival and Philadelphia’s first film festival, a proud accomplishment. Films are chosen every year through a very special screening committee, and one festival manager, Matthew Bussy, gave his insight on this year’s highlights.
He was mostly even relieved that the festival was going to go on as planned, with rough patches not only from Corona, but the new Delta variant. The festival staff were worried, but trusted that loyal participants’ thirst for good films would not let them down. Last year's celebration of the festival’s 40th year anniversary went on entirely virtually, and still boasted a terrific turnout. Bussy pointed out that people adapted, delighted with the programming, watching in their own home on a computer or television. Great films were still offered, just in a different format. “That’s why we’re here”, Bussy explained. “We want to keep movie buffs entertained. The purpose of PJFM is to entertain, enthrall and educate audiences (both Jewish and non-Jewish) through its cinema and New Media programming. As we slowly return to in-person screenings, we just want everyone to continue to have a good time and understand that we are taking extra precaution. We have such an outstanding, diverse lineup of films this festival and we’re not stopping!”
So how does it actually work? Well, it is as simple as getting tickets and deciding if you want to come in person or watch at home. But be careful to note which films play for one night only! Some films stream as Virtual Live Streams, for only one date and time. (For example, you can catch the Opening Night Film of this sort, teen melodrama WET DOG, and choose to either be in-person or watch it that same night, but 7 PM EST only). And you’ll also want to make a note about which evenings have exclusive virtual, pre-recorded interviews with special guests, as well as a potential few IN-PERSON guests.
Bussy is excited by all of the offerings, but referred to NOT GOING QUIETLY as an awe-inspiring documentary about famous activist Ady Barkan, who suffers from ALS. He also raved about SIN LA HABANA as a personal favorite (remember, he’s already seen them all!), as a modern Shakespearean drama following three flawed individuals yearning to live the American Dream. But as this festival manager says, you don’t have to be Jewish or love dance to be enthralled by SIN LA HABANA, or any of the other films.
Find your favorites, it is a must-do! There are so many films to choose from, you can browse them all and purchase at https://phillyjfm.org/. Visit the site or call (215) 545-4400 to ask about an All-Access Pass. If streaming, ticketholders receive a private link to the film after purchase, which activates only at showtimes. (Please note tickets are only available to residents of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.) And follow on social media at @PhillyJFM on FB and IG, and @PhillyJFM_ on Twitter. Once the festival wraps up but before “Lindy CineMondays”, the spring
festival, you don’t have to wait around for the next round. PJFM also presents many other powerful media events in between their two big hitters, so stay connected!