Exploring The Art of Storytelling

December 30, 2013 |

Storytelling is one of our oldest and most revered art forms, and cinema at its best and in the right hands can be used to bring great stories to life. Film festivals are usually a great place to find compelling stories, as someone has curated them with an eye towards presenting the best. The 23rd annual Tucson Jewish International Film Festival brings together an amazing group of stories by master storytellers for Tucson audiences Jan. 12-25.

"Brave Miss World" closes the Tucson Jewish International Film Festival on Jan. Film Festival on Jan. 25. Image courtesy of Jewish Community Center

“Brave Miss World” closes the Tucson Jewish International Film Festival on Jan. 25.
Image courtesy of Jewish Community Center

The festival screens at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) Ballroom with a special early kick-off screening at the Desert View Performing Arts Center, 38759 S. Mountain View Blvd. – in Saddlebrooke, on Jan. 12. An opening night screening takes place at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., on Jan. 18, leading into a diverse and robust schedule of narrative and documentary films at the JCC. In addition to film screenings, the festival offers panel discussions and Q & A sessions after some films with filmmakers.

Lynne Davis, Director of Arts and Culture for the JCC, expressed praise for the films chosen by the screening committee this year. “There’s such important and powerful films this year,” along with the films that also educate and enrich with their content. Davis said most attendees to the festival see between three to six films, and this year they may feel like seeing a few more based on the lineup.

A few not to be missed films include: the documentary Wagner and Me, an intriguing look at the music of German composer Richard Wagner by actor and writer Stephen Fry. As a Jew, Fry carries guilt for loving the music of Wagner, whose music was co-opted by the Nazi’s and forever besmirched, but the brilliance of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung operas is hard to shake. Wagner was not a Nazi, but his racist attitudes appealed to the Nazi Party, as did his grand operatic works. The film shows once at the JCC on Jan. 19, at 7 p.m.

The touching and poignant drama Any Day Now stars Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt as a gay couple in the 1970s attempting to adopt a disabled boy whose family as all but abandoned him. With a career-best performance from Cumming, the bittersweet tale is a real tearjerker with a powerful message of love despite all obstacles. Check it out Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. at the JCC.

Another fascinating documentary is American Jerusalem: Jews and the Making of San Francisco. The film details the unique role that Jews had in the founding of San Francisco during the gold rush of the 1850s. Largely cast out of Europe, the immigrant merchant class found a city of open arms and great opportunity. The legacy of that timely migration was the creation of a new type of American citizen, one both true to their Jewish heritage and also op en to the new world. The film screens Jan. 22 as part of a double feature that starts at 5 p.m. at the JCC.

Wrapping up the festival on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. is the staggering documentary Brave Miss World. Directed by the daughter of Hollywood great Gregory Peck, Cecilia Peck traces the story of Linor Abargil, a beauty pageant contestant who was raped just months prior to being crowned Miss World by a pageant juror. Abargil’s quest to fight back and raise awareness worldwide of rape and its victims, is awe inspiring. Her passion and dedication to give voice to other victims, and tireless advocacy is remarkable. The film has been the darling of the film festival circuit, and Davis calls it “the most important film I’ve seen all year.” A special free screening of the film is also being planned post-festival at the Hillel campus for students that will feature a SKYPE Q & A with Linor Abargil on Jan. 28.

The 23rd annual Tucson International Jewish Film Festival is Jan. 12-25 at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Rd. and a few other select locations. Tickets are $8-$10 per film with discount, group and festival passes available via the film festival page of the JCC’s website at TucsonJewishFilmFestival.org.

Category: Community, Entertainment, Events, Film