A Jewish film festival must be political
Explosive, topical, but always differentiated and with very different approaches, the films of the 27th JFBB illuminate past and present realities of life between Israel and Palestine, Germany and Poland, between the private and the political, naming omissions and distorted historiographies. A whole range of political themes run through the JFBB programme, such as coming to terms with trauma, the Shoa and the relationship between Israel and Palestine. The JFBB programme selection shows how political upheavals become personal stories and biographical narratives.
"The history of the 20th century can be examined on the basis of the films at our festival. What happened still has a painful effect today, causes people to break and die, even without losing their lives in one of the conflicts fought with weapons," says JFBB programme director Bernd Buder. "From Berlin or Potsdam, the region where the Shoa was once planned, our gaze must not only look backwards. On the contrary, it probably only has to wander from the next front door to the one after to discover, for example, anti-Semitism, which is often the seed and root for the flourishing conspiracy narratives."
In the documentary competition of the Berlin Brandenburg Jewish Film Festival, director Sharon Ryba-Kahn, a member of the third generation of Shoa survivors, takes on her own family history with DISPLACED. After a seven-year silence between her father and herself, their shared past is questioned as the origin of a difficult family relationship. In DISPLACED, Ryba-Kahn asks the questions that burn under the nails of a young generation of Jews in Germany as much as they make the interviewees uncomfortable. It thus fits alongside other biographical films in the JFBB programme such as WALTER KAUFMANN - WELCH EIN LEBEN! (by Karin Kaper and Dirk Szuszies), which celebrates its world premiere at the festival, Noemi Schory's SCHOCKEN - EIN DEUTSCHES LEBEN or IRMIby Veronica Selver and Susan Fanshel, which celebrates its European premiere at the JFBB.
The political is not limited to the documentary form. Feature films in the JFBB competition such as the political thriller PLAN A, the tragicomedy THE SIGN PAINTER or the biographical feature films DEAR THOMAS and ADVENTURES OF A MATHEMATICIAN tell how the individual is put under pressure by political developments or forced to act - or to persist. In 200 METERS by Palestinian director Ameen Nayfeh, Mustafa lives in the West Bank, 200 metres as the crow flies from his family in Israel. Mustafa is turned back at the border wall that separates them and the countries. He embarks on a 200-kilometre odyssey, crossing paths with people of different nationalities and political stances. In 2014, three Israeli teenagers are kidnapped and murdered by Hamas activists. Shortly afterwards, the burnt body of a Palestinian teenager is found. An Israeli-Palestinian team created the series OUR BOYS from the incidents, which revolves around the investigation of the criminal cases.
Important and recurring elements of the JFBB programme are historical narratives that deal with the persecution of Jews. The fact that history is often rewritten and re-read and that films are not detached from socio-political oscillations is shown, among other things, by German and Polish films reflecting Jewish experiences in the ZEITREISE section. A film-historical comparison with films made up to the fall of communism in 1989, presented by the JFBB on the occasion of 75 years of DEFA and in cooperation with the Warsaw Jewish Film Festival.
Here the private becomes political and historical omissions become conspicuous. In AFFAIRE BLUM (Erich Engel, 1948), the murderer turns the innocent into the hunted: Gabler, criminal and unscrupulous, accuses the Jewish factory owner Blum of the murder of his accountant. A year earlier, in 1947, THE LAST STAGE was made, Poland's first feature film about the Shoa. Director Wanda Jakubowska was herself interned in Auschwitz. Following the screening on Sunday, 15 August, the JFBB goes into analysis and invites you to a panel discussion with experts on the political framework conditions of DEFA and Polish feature film productions during the Cold War at 4.30 pm.
Hans Hochstöger has set himself the goal of dealing with an omission with ENDPHASE. In it, contemporary witnesses talk about a criminal massacre committed by Wehrmacht soldiers and locals in Hofamt Priel in Lower Austria in May 1945.
In the documentary THE WAR OF RAYA SINITSINA, director Efim Graboy meets a veteran who experienced the Leningrad blockade during the Second World War. Even with ample medals on her chest, the main character, who also seems to be directing the film, misses the fact that no statue memorialises female war heroes. The work becomes a document of an unusual friendship.
Ilay Mevorach's RINA AND ZAKI also tells of such a friendship. The short documentary film portrays with a wink the special bond between Zaki and the 94-year-old Rina, where a checkpoint stands in the way of the completely normal coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.
RINA AND ZAKI is shown in the short film programme NOSH NOSH, where the works of the young filmmakers focus on private-political interweavings, such as a Jewish-Muslim partnership (NECRO-MEN), queer life in an orthodox environment (RABBI FALSCH) or the escape stories of two people of different origins and generations (RÜCKKEHR INS MUTTERLAND).
Young filmmakers are particularly close to the JFBB's heart, and thanks to the Goericke family, the prize for the promotion of young filmmakers will also be awarded to a young talent.
The JFBB Prize for Intercultural Dialogue, endowed with 2,000 euros and donated by the iSQI Inc Group, is intended to set an example for tolerance and the coexistence of different life identities.