This year, the Washington Jewish Film Festival opening here tomorrow looks especially enticing, with a wide range of films from a wide range of sources all with some relationship to the experience of Jewish culture and history. The festival, now in its 20th year, is presenting its visionary award to Michael Verhoeven, the director whose film, “The Nasty Girl,” led off the first festival two decades ago. Audiences will get a chance to see that film, based on the true story of a German student who uncovered that her community had suppressed the history of its involvement in Nazi atrocities, and hear Verhoeven in a conversation at the Goethe-Institut about the role of film in the ongoing denial and revelation of history. His latest film, “Human Failure,” will have its North American premiere at the festival. It is a documentary about the organized theft of assets from German Jews by Nazi tax officials, and it is presented in cooperation with the United States Holocaust Museum, The Generation After, and Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Friends of Greater Washington, and sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Germany and the Goethe-Institute Washington.
Some of the other highlights of the festival include:
“Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist,” a documentary about the brilliantly influential comic artists and writer, creator of The Spirit and The Contract with God Trilogy,
“A Matter of Size,” an Israeli feature film about four overweight men who discover a place where being big is truly appreciated: the world of sumo wrestling,
“The Worst Company in the World,” a documentary about the film-maker’s father and his inept efforts to run an insurance business,
“Mary and Max,” a claymation feature, based on the true story of a 22-year correspondene between an Australian girl and a New York Jewish man with Asperger’s, featuring the voices of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toni Collette,
“Hello Goodbye,” a French feature about a Parisian couple (Gerard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant) who struggle to adjust when they decide to move to Israel,
“For Making Me a Woman,” a documentary about the search for equality in Orthodox observance and community, and
“The Imported Bridegroom,” a 1989 American feature film set in turn-of-the-20th century America, about a Jewish immigrant family whose daughter does not want to marry the man her father has selected for her.
I’ll be reporting more about the festival, so stay tuned.