Courtesy Zephyr Films

Sandra Brett, Charleston Jewish Filmfest (JFF) organizer, is entering new territory this year. Usually, she hosts the festival at the Terrace Theater, but the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way most organizations in town operate.

Brett recalls past festivals: “Picking movies with Paul Brown (Terrace owner) has been fun. He advocates lighter films that have audience appeal, and I prefer more serious educational films, so it’s a good balance.”

Brett also thinks fondly of the post-film discussions that usually follow each film screening: “The variety of opinions expressed make the movie viewing experience so much richer.” Past talkbacks have included insight from Jon Brun, director of film studies at the College of Charleston, and a panel of local lawyers who discussed the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsberg after a terrace screening of the film RBG.

JFF, which works with CofC’s Jewish studies program, is pivoting to virtual offerings this year. Each film costs $10 to watch (with special code cjff20) and will be available for 48 hours after buying the tickets for viewing. There are free zoom Q&A sessions with the filmmakers that accompany each flick.

My Polish Honeymoon

Anna (Judith Chemla) is in the middle of a heated discussion with her parents as she and her husband Adam (Arthur Igual) finalize plans for a trip to Poland. As she’s packing things, her mother, who is babysitting while they’re away, warns that the people in Poland are genetically predisposed to anti-Semitism and the place is swarming with alcoholics. Once there, Anna welcomes the cold, even saying she feels “mega-Polish” at one point. Adam, much less excited about the trip (that is doubling as their honeymoon of sorts) bristles at the sight of tours calling Poland “Disneyland for the Holocaust.” The young Parisian couple eat, drink, laugh, love, fight and cry their way around town. Like most dramedies, Élise Otzenberger’s film, which was inspired by her own honeymoon, dances between sorrowful segments such as the 75th anniversary ceremony commemorating a destroyed Jewish village and lighthearted moments involving a goofy shoe purchase.

Available July 31-Aug. 14 with a Q&A with filmmakers Aug. 4 at 1 p.m.


The Keeper

“Margaret I’m not some kind of monster.”

“Well some folks around here might say different.”

Thus begins a testy exchange between two diametrically opposed people who are destined to be together in this romantic biopic set in postwar St. Helens, England. Margaret (Freya Mavor), the daughter of desperate soccer/football coach Jack Friar, detests the idea of her father giving room and board to one of his players, goalkeeper Bert Trautmann (David Kross). Trautmann, a German prisoner of war currently being re-educated nearby, is taken with Margaret — but his previous life as a paratrooper rightly skews her initial view of him. Before too long, the walls come down and a romance blossoms as Trautmann’s talents garner him fame. Throughout the film, visions of a young boy haunt him, serving as a reminder of his Nazi past. At one point during an interview with the press, the iron cross he earned is brought up. Themes of forgiveness and loyalty are explored in the first half but ultimately the film is about the love story between Margaret and Bert, despite the hurdles they face. File this one under, “if this wasn’t a true story, I would never believe it.” Writer/director Marcus H. Rosenmüller handles this fascinating true story with heart and sympathy.

Available Aug. 7-21, with tickets available soon.

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