Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival Returns for Silver Celebration

March 2, 2021 (Tampa, FL) - The 25th Annual Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival (TBJFF) is pleased to announce its most grand cinematic experience to date. Since its inception in 1997, the TBJFF has showcased Jewish films that touch on themes such as life, love, tradition, family, history and current affairs.


“This year the Tampa JCCs and Federation and The Jewish Federation of Florida’s Gulf Coast, are proud to present a simply outstanding display of the finest film making with a Jewish lens that we have seen yet!” said Brandy Gold, TBJFF Director. The 2021 TBJFF committee which is made up of 20 film aficionados led by Screening Committee Co-Chairs Stewart Donnell and Roxana Levin. The committee was tasked with screening nearly 75 films since fall 2020. They carefully curated the lineup of 25 feature films to honor the festival’s silver anniversary. Two bonus mid-length features are also included in the festival line-up.


The variety of film genres and entertaining programming was developed by the Executive Committee led by Co-Chairs Sara Golding Chair and Loni Shelef. The sub-committee was more than creative in planning the grandiose festival with COVID-19 compliant regulations all in place. “We were determined to carry out our plans for a unique celebration for the 25th anniversary and we were all in with careful and creative planning in light of COVID-19,” said

Golding Scher.


The venues this year are predominantly virtual cinemas, however opening and closing night events will be offered in person and virtually. Space is limited at the opening and closing in person events. The community is encouraged to purchase in person tickets in advance. The silver screen celebration will open in the virtual cinema and in person with the very first ever TBJFF Drive-In movie experience on April 11. The STARR Award recipient will be honored. Attendees will be able to purchase concessions from on-site food trucks to enhance the movie-going experience. The festival will run through April 25. Those attending in person can enjoy a champagne toast to 25 years of festivals and a Movie on the Lawn experience. Both celebrations will take place at a new outdoor venue located at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, 505 N. Howard Avenue, Tampa.


Due to the pandemic, last year’s festival was delayed until June and became entirely virtual. Some of the films that were intended to premier during the planned festival were not available during the new timeframe. Four of those films are now available and have joined the 21 new award-winning feature and mid-length films that will highlight the art of telling stories with a Jewish lens. “Stories of Jewish life presented in a variety of genres are sure to engage and inspire filmgoers,” said Gold.


“It has been quite a year for film, and all of the arts, I’m grateful to our committee for their efforts during the selection process. It wasn’t easy; however, we have an exceptional festival that we are quite proud of,” said Shelef. “Our screening committee did a superb job in difficult conditions.” Due to social distancing of COVID-19, the committee was challenged to screen nearly 75 films at home, apart from one another.


The films selected this year are exceptionally moving and afford the opportunity for viewers to come to together to celebrate, think deeper and have motivating discussions about the realities of Jewish life. The Committee Choice Award went to the opening night film, Golden Voices, which tells the story of two Soviet film industry voice actors who must rebuild their lives after immigrating to Israel. In this bittersweet dramedy, Victor and Raya Frenkel, legends in the Soviet Union, dubbed major international movie stars’ voices for audiences behind the Iron Curtain. But after the USSR’s collapse, they join the wave of Soviet Jews moving to Israel. As strangers in a strange land, an absurd new reality tempers their dreams of a better life. With no need for Russian-speaking voiceover artists in Israel, the couple apply their talents in creatively bizarre and unexpected ways. Nominated for four Israeli Academy Awards including Best Actress (Maria Belkin), this deadpan delight is a perfect mix of levity and pathos, reflecting hopes and fears of immigrants the world over.


To expand the festival experience, TJBFF is bringing back Conversation Cafés in conjunction with several of the films, which enhances the movie watching experience. Conversation Cafés take place during the virtual cinema run of a film. This allows audience members the opportunity to watch the movie prior to or after the film club styled talks. These casual discussions are free for participants and will be led by proficient film screening committee members. The Conversation Cafés are open to all who have watched the movie, are planning to watch the movie or simply want great conversation.


Also enhancing the film festival this year are ten Signature Engagement Programs (SEP), which feature guest filmmakers, directors, film talent and topic experts. SEPs are free of charge and the community is invited to participate. Registration is required to receive the personal and private links. Guests will be joining the webinar styled programs via Zoom and will have the opportunity in some cases to ask question directly to the speakers.


The initial SEP will feature a Q & A with ‘Til Kingdom Comes Director Abie Touren and Emmy- winning Israeli Filmmaker Maya Zinshtein. The film examines the dubious alliance between Trump-supporting evangelicals and Israel’s right-wing factions. Fervent in their messianic beliefs, American evangelicals give huge sums to the Holy Land while exerting outsized influence on Mideast policy. Faith, money and power prove a toxic brew that flows from an impoverished Kentucky church’s pulpit, through the halls of Washington, to outcomes in Israel. Another SEP features Shari Rogers, director of the compelling and powerful new documentary Shared Legacies: The African-American Jewish Civil Rights Alliance, joining a panel discussion with members of the Black and Jewish Community Cooperative (BJCC). Established in October of 2020, BJCC is a 12-member committee that includes leadership from Tampa’s Blackand Jewish communities with a focus on addressing issues related to diversity, equity and inclusiveness.


The film transports the viewer to the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. During a time divided by deeply embedded racial segregation, Jewish leaders worked very closely with Dr. Martin Luther King on his mission for national hope and healing. History almost forgets that bigotry and discrimination brought together the African and Jewish American communities. We have previously heard the tragic horrors of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust. But this may be one of the first times that we have heard how their experience ties in with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The African American community were supported by Jewish leaders. And accordingly, the Jewish community was held up by Martin Luther King Jr. and his people.


Rogers’ film reveals the connections between the two movements. It highlights the stunning similarities between the experiences of those affected by slavery and the Holocaust and the scars that these tragedies left on their souls. As it unpacks history from a new perspective, Shared Legacies serves as a reminder that, yes, there are specificities within the Black or Jewish experience. But suffering unites people and that there is strength and healing that can begin by supporting one another.


“People supporting each other, pulling for one another, inspiring one another seems to be a common theme in the 25th anniversary year line-up,” said Gold. “I find it fascinating that each film has its own hidden heroes in it. Sometimes the hero is blatantly noticed, and sometimes it may take days before you suddenly realize which character you took the most away from - who in the story was the most memorable, it is the power of great cinematography.” The powerhouse line up continues with stories of real abilities, love, relationships, discoveries, movements, Holocaust, art, dance, and sports found in the festival’s films. In most cases, the films will be screened in a virtual cinema from the comfort of home.


The full line-up being presented is made possible with support by the following generous sponsors, Film Tampa Bay, Herman Forbes Charitable Trust, Hillsborough County, Sara and David Scher, as well as many individual donors.


Each day, two films will upload onto the virtual cinema platform. Once purchased and set to ‘play,’ the movie guest will have 48 hours (two full days) to watch the film. Movies will upload at 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM each day except during Shabbat. Time of film upload will vary for Friday and Saturday. Guests may purchase individual movies for viewing at a cost of $12 plus streaming fee or purchase mini- or all-access passes. SEPs and Conversation Café are free to attend.


The opening night Drive-In movie ticket is $25 per car, and the closing night Movie on the Lawn film is $25 for a pod of two chairs together and a champagne split to toast the STARR Award recipient. Once tickets or passes are purchased, guests will be able to see the entire festival menu on their streaming device. The box office will be open from 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM throughout the festival except during Shabbat to assist guests in need.


Please visit tbjff.org for ticket, movie and program information.


25 th Annual Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival

(Films are listed in chronological order of opening on virtual cinema)



(Download a printable listing of films below)

TBJFF 2021 Center Spread
.pdf
Download PDF • 6.80MB


Golden Voices

April 11

For in person viewing, gates open at 7:00 PM and film starts at 8:00 PM.

Link for virtual cinema opens at 7:30 PM.

The story of two Soviet film industry voice actors who must rebuild their lives after immigrating to Israel. In this bittersweet dramedy, Victor and Raya Frenkel, legends in the Soviet Union, dubbed major international movie stars’ voices for audiences behind the Iron Curtain. But after the USSR’s collapse, they join the wave of Soviet Jews moving to Israel. As strangers in a strange land, an absurd new reality tempers their dreams of a better life. With no need for Russian- speaking voiceover artists in Israel, the couple apply their talents in creatively bizarre and unexpected ways. Nominated for four Israeli Academy Awards including Best Actress (Maria Belkin), this deadpan delight is a perfect mix of levity and pathos, reflecting hopes and fears of immigrants the world over.


Perfect

April 12 | 1:00 PM

Asaf, a chief content editor in the television industry, paralyzed on his left side, embarks on a journey to accept his disability. Asaf meets a group of disabled people who tell their stories and discuss their daily lives with incredible honesty, providing the viewer with a rare glimpse to the lives of people with disabilities.


‘Til Kingdom Come

April 12 | 7:00 PM

Examines the dubious alliance between Trump-supporting evangelicals and Israel’s right-wing factions. Fervent in their messianic beliefs, American evangelicals give huge sums to the Holy Land while exerting outsized influence on Mideast policy. Faith, money and power prove a toxic brew that flows from an impoverished Kentucky church’s pulpit, through the halls of Washington, to outcomes in Israel. The focal point is the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a charitable group seeking to actualize apocalyptic prophecy. With unfettered access to those pursuing opportunistic agendas, this sharply organized exposé raises troubling questions about the linkage of ideological quests and political power.


Here We Are

April 13 | 1:00 PM

Israeli auteur Nir Bergman returns with this tender drama about a protective father’s road trip with his autistic son and the anguish of separation. Uri (Noam Imber) is too old to continue living with his father Aharon (Shai Avivi), a stubborn divorcé and Uri’s loving caregiver. Their cocooned, codependent situation is upended when Uri’s mother insists he enter a specialized facility to attain independence. Deeply reluctant to let go, Aharon escapes with Uri on an adventure-filled, often humorous trek. But with time catching up, both men must learn how to say goodbye. Suffused with emotion and graced by deeply felt performances, this life-affirming two-hander was nominated for nine Israeli Academy Awards, with wins for Best Director, Screenplay, Actor and Supporting Actor.


Angelica

April 13 | 7:00 PM

Produced by Golden Globe nominee Shlomi Elkabetz, the beguiling documentary Angelica is both mysterious and profound in equal measure, posing fascinating questions about art and family. Boris Schatz left two of Israel’s most important institutions — The Israel Museum and The Bezalel Art Academy — as his legacy, along with an endless collection of seminal works of art. Another chapter of his biography seems to have disappeared — the kidnapping of his daughter, Angelica, by her mother, who had fallen in love with one of his students. This was an event that became crucial to the Israeli art world, but also to Angelica’s life. The discovery of a chain of letters in the Zionist Archives, along with a roll of paintings in an attic, sends the film’s director, Angelica’s great-grandson, to investigate Boris and Angelica’s tragic relationship.


Mrs. G

April 14 | 1:00 PM

This inspiring film tells the incredible story of how one woman created the world’s most famous swimsuit company. Mrs. Lea Gottlieb, known as “Mrs. G,” started Gottex in her tiny Tel Aviv apartment. A Holocaust survivor with endless creativity, unbridled passion and a dominant personality, Mrs. G was able to climb to the pinnacle of the glamorous fashion world. But ultimately, this success meant navigating complex relationships with her two daughters and making complicated personal decisions while trying to keep her business afloat.


Marry Me However

April 14 | 7:00 PM

The film tells the stories of LGBT men and women who, for religious reasons, decided to marry against their own sexual orientation, to comply with Torah laws and be accepted into their families and religious communities. Some shared their secret with their partners, some kept it hidden and some lied even to themselves. After their divorces, they confront the conflicts they repressed: their faith and religious laws; children, family and community; exposure to society and search for a partner. The characters experience a journey of self-acceptance and social activism, as they try to affect a change in their religious environments. The film also follows the women who married and divorced homosexual partners, as well as rabbis and psychologists who seek a solution to an unsolvable conflict.


Rain in Her Eyes

April 15 | 1:00 PM

Kibbutz Maoz Chaim children’s house, 1943. A gunshot rings out, followed by silence. 11-year-old Dvor’aleh is orphaned. She was told that her mother was killed by a stray bullet during weapons training, but soon begins hearing the word “suicide” whispered among the kibbutz members. Dvora is deeply troubled: was it an accident or was it suicide? If it was a suicide, how could her mother leave her alone in the world like that? Only years later does Dvora discover the truth. Journeying to the past, her son, the filmmaker, revisits the childhood of a mother with “rain in her eyes,” as she described herself – a mother whose tormented life story shaped her writing and her relationship with her children and family.


Menachem Begin: Peace and War

April 15 | 7:00 PM

This powerful film was produced in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and presents a surprising and unfamiliar portrait of Israel’s sixth prime minister. Menachem Begin led Israel for six dramatic and tumultuous years, which produced waves that are still felt deeply within the fabric of Israel’s social and political landscape. During Begin’s shortened one and a half terms of office, he faced a maelstrom of challenges and made a handful of fateful decisions that led to both creating peace and launching a hubristic war. By exploring these events, the film depicts a multi-faceted portrait of a man who held on to an unwavering ideology full of conflicts, as well as the cultural mosaic and fissured society that he sought to lead. The film merges rare archival footage shown for the first time, as well as current interviews held with key figures during Menachem Begin’s time as Prime Minister.


Kiss Me Kosher

April 16 | 5:00 PM

Sparks fly when two families from wildly different cultural backgrounds collide to plan a same-sex wedding, in this screwball romantic comedy that crosses all borders. After a string of not-too-serious ex-girlfriends, Shira (Moran Rosenblatt) has finally found real love with Maria (Luise Wolfram), a German who has uprooted entirely just to be with Shira in Tel Aviv. The two women plan to marry…eventually. But when Shira’s family inadvertently discovers the engagement, wedding plans kick into high gear. Juliane Köhler, Bernhard Schütz, Irit Kaplan and John Carroll Lynch round out a delightful international cast in Shirel Peleg’s brave, subversive debut that finds laugh-out-loud comedy in even the darkest, most cringeworthy situations.


A Starry Sky Above Roman Ghetto

April 17 | 7:00 PM

The discovery of a puzzling photograph sparks a student to probe the history of Rome’s Jewish ghetto and the fate of a little girl, in this Italian teen drama interlacing past and present. When Sofia finds an old snapshot in a neglected suitcase, she’s mesmerized by the child’s picture. As details emerge—the child’s name, separation from her parents during a Gestapo raid, and rescue by a nun—Sofia commits to honoring the girl’s memory by staging an original play with classmates and friends from a nearby Jewish high school. But first she must overcome objections of concerned parents. A talented ensemble injects youthful energy into this inspiring interfaith story about the importance of memory, coexistence and reconciling generational frictions.


Sublet

April 17 | 9:00 PM

In this warmly affecting cross-generational melodrama, a middle-aged gay American writer numbed by tragedy finds solace in the company of a younger Israeli man. In Tel Aviv to research his latest travelogue, Michael (John Benjamin Hickey) sublets an apartment from handsome filmmaking student Tomer (Niv Nissim). The age and personality chasm between pensive Michael and carefree Tomer lend charm and humor to their odd-couple dynamic. As the pair soaks up Tel Aviv’s hedonistic energy, Michael lowers his guard, inspired to embrace life again. Offering engaging debates on love, sex and identity in a society bucking its traditional roots writer-director Eytan Fox’s latest entry transcends its milieu as it ponders conflicting desires with sensitivity and intelligence.


We Were the Others

April 19 | 1:00 PM

A story of six gay men that were born in the days of the establishment of the State of Israel. Their stories serve as the film’s background for the depiction of the clandestine and undocumented lives of homosexuals in Israel during the 1960-70s; From the time that their sexual identity was considered illegal and a mental illness, up until 1979, when a few brave individuals dared to go public and demonstrate for their rights, as the history of the gay community in Israel began to be told and documented.


Shared Legacies – The African-American Jewish Civil Rights Alliance

April 19 | 7:00 PM

The crucial historical lessons of Black-Jewish cooperation are revisited and revived in this utterly fascinating, urgent call to action. The modern alliance between African Americans and Jewish Americans dates to the NAACP founding in 1909. Since then, both groups have endured segregation and racism, from the codified bigotry of southern Jim Crow laws, to blatant bias in real estate, employment, higher education and politics. Pivotal events come alive through a treasure trove of archival materials, narrated by eyewitnesses, activists, Holocaust survivors, and leaders of the movement, including prominent Atlantans such as Congressman John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, Rabbi Peter S. Berg, Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr., members of the King family and many others.


The House on Wannsee Street

April 20 | 1:00 PM

Generations of family secrets are uncovered in this sweeping international story that begins with the Second World War and concludes with an emotional twenty-first century revelation. When award-winning Argentinean filmmaker Poli Martínez Kaplun decided to dig deep into her family history, she found a shocking discovery. Searching through family albums and 8mm home movies, she unraveled a twentieth-century mystery. What she found were ong-forgotten images of her great grandfather, who she learned was a German-Jewish philosopher persecuted by the Nazis. To save his family from the concentration camps, he was forced to flee Berlin and moved to Egypt, then Switzerland, and finally Argentina, where they had to hide their Jewish identity in order to receive church papers to enter the country (since after the Second World War Jews were not permitted entry as immigrants). Poignant questions of identity, resilience, compassion, and the plight of displaced persons are brought to life as Poli confronts her mother and aunts about the hidden Jewish identity they have concealed ever since. Eighty years later, Poli returns to Germany to their family house on Wannsee Street, a few feet from where the Final Solution was decreed for all Jews in Europe.


Thou Shalt Not Hate

April 20 | 7:00 PM

A split-second decision at a traffic accident triggers repercussions for a Jewish surgeon and a neo-Nazi’s daughter, in this gripping, potent drama. Simone (Alessandro Gassmann), a Holocaust survivor’s son, rushes to the scene of a hit-and-run. But when he sees a swastika tattoo on the victim’s chest, he leaves the gravely wounded man to his fate. Wracked with guilt, the anguished doctor confronts the ethics of his choice, and bonds with the victim’s daughter Marcia (Sara Serraiocco), embroiling himself in greater conflict. Posing profound questions about redemption and the paradoxes of the human soul in the face of hate, this provocative parable was winner of the Best Italian Film and Best Actor awards at the Venice International Film Festival.


Love It Was Not

April 21 | 1:00 PM

In this astonishing but true story, a Nazi officer falls in love with a Jewish concentration camp prisoner, a taboo romance with decades-long repercussions. A Slovakian cantor’s daughter and aspiring performer, beautiful Helena Citron is among the first inmates to confront the dehumanizing conditions of Auschwitz. There, she captures the attention of Franz Wunsch, a high-ranking SS officer smitten by her singing voice. Risking execution if caught, their forbidden liaison continues until Helena’s miraculous liberation. The pair don’t meet again until Helena is a witness at his war crimes trial 30 years later. This DocAviv International Film Festival Best Israeli Film winner is buttressed by extensive eyewitness accounts, painstaking photo montages and an evocative score.


Shalom Taiwan

April 21 | 7:00 PM

This heartwarming, joyous, and uplifting dramady follows the misadventures of a Buenos Aires Rabbi who travels the world in search of donations to save his synagogue. Years ago, Rabbi Aaron had to secretly borrow a large amount of money so his small neighborhood synagogue could continue providing generous support to the needy. Now years later, the unpaid debt has finally caught up with him, as a moneylender demands full repayment, or he’ll seize the synagogue as his property. None of the Rabbi’s clever and optimistic efforts to seek financial assistance prove successful. Cornered and desperately running out of time, he tries a last-ditch effort by embarking on a trip to the Far East to secure much-needed donations to save his community’s synagogue. What follows is a journey unlike any other, one which is an epiphany of movie sentiment and a transcendent experience of the soul. You have to possess a very hard heart not to find something to love in a story that imparts values of community spirit, family

and hope.


The Albanian Code

April 22 | 1:00 PM

Using unique archival footage, The Albanian Code unveils the unknown story of thousands of Jewish refugees who were rescued by the Muslim-majority country of Albania during World War II. Ennie Altaratz-Francis, who was saved escaping Yugoslavia, decides to go to Albania to thank whoever she can. Her personal voyage, just one of many, reveals how an entire nation of Albanians, both office holders and ordinary people, were bound by their moral code. An uplifting film that carries a universal message of gratitude for human values.


Asia

April 22 | 7:00 PM

In this poignant drama claiming top prize at the Israeli Academy Awards, Shira Haas is exceptional as a rebellious teen dealing with a progressive illness and fraught relationship with her free-spirited mother. A single parent at an early age, Asia (Alena Yiv) emigrated from Russia with daughter Vika and works long hours as a nurse in Jerusalem. Both are stubborn, opinionated and brusque. As Vika enters adulthood, she tests boundaries and inevitably rebels against her mother's lax parenting. But as her daughter’s health worsens, Asia must become the mother Vika desperately needs. A bravely unsentimental rumination on motherhood, desire and mortality, the assured feature debut of writer-director Ruthy Pribar is Israel's Best International Feature Film Oscar submission.


The Crossing

April 23 | 1:00 PM

The story of the adventurous 10-year-old Gerda and her brother Otto whose parents are in the Norwegian resistance movement during the Second World War. One day, just before Christmas in 1942, Gerda and Otto's parents are arrested, leaving the siblings on their own. Following the arrest, they discover two Jewish children, Sarah and Daniel, hidden in a secret cupboard in their basement at home. It is now up to Gerda and Otto to finish what their parents started: To help Sarah and Daniel flee from the Nazis cross the border to neutral Sweden and reunite them with their parents. THE CROSSING is a film about the confidence, uncompromising loyalty and great courage you can find in even the youngest of children.


If You See My Mother

April 23 | 5:00 PM

Max is a single ophthalmologist, and a real mama’s boy. Until she suddenly dies. Max should be devastated, yet he seems to be coping well. Too well. He actually sees her, talks to her. She is not gone, still here, still close to her beloved baby boy. Max knows she is dead, yet he holds on to this impossible reality. Until he starts sharing his office with Ohiana, a shrink who he slowly falls in love with. Mom is not going to like it.


Sky Raiders

April 24 | 7:00 PM

13-year-old Yotam is obsessed with flying, but his overprotective mother won’t let him go anywhere near planes, especially after he lost his father a few years ago. When Yotam and his classmate Noa find a rare antique plane in the local junkyard, they team up with Morris, an 80- year-old grumpy loner who used to be a pilot. Together, they try to bring the plane back to life, just in time for the annual air show.


Aulcie

April 24 | 8:00 PM

One of Israel’s greatest athletes captures the spirit of a nation while triumphing against the odds, in this crowd-pleasing biography of a basketball legend. Recruited from the courts of Harlem, Aulcie Perry joined Maccabi Tel Aviv in 1976, quickly established himself a leader, and helped defeat the heavily favored Soviets to give team Israel its first European Championship. He adopted a Hebrew name, converted to Judaism, and dated an Israeli model. But the dark side of fame led to a stunning downfall. Returning to Israel after time in prison, Aulcie shares his story of redemption, while electrifying game footage and insightful interviews complete this emotional profile of a superstar athlete who put Israeli basketball on the map.


Underground Ballet

April 25 | 1:00 PM

Her own career nipped in the bud, a Russian-Israeli ballet instructor keeps her mother’s legacy alive by establishing a dance studio in one of the unlikeliest places imaginable. In 1991, Nadya Timofeyeva abruptly moved to Jerusalem with her mother Nina, a prima ballerina and choreographer for Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater. With no other means of supporting themselves, mother and daughter opened a ballet school tucked beneath the bleachers of Jerusalem’s soccer venue, Teddy Stadium. While raucous fans above cheer the footwork of Beitar Jerusalem, students below execute dazzling dance moves of their own. This surreal intersection of sport and art is the Haifa Film Festival’s Best Israeli Documentary prizewinner.


A Common Goal

April 25 | 1:00 PM

Almost half the players on the Israeli National Soccer Team are Muslim, including the captain. The team’s diverse group of players causes controversy, especially during an important European +tournament, most of it provoked by racist fans and the media. The players have their loyalty questioned by all sides while trying to guide Israel’s national team through the year’s biggest international challenge.


Crescendo

April 25

For in person viewing, gates open at 7:00 PM and film starts at 8:00 PM.

Link for virtual cinema opens at 7:30 PM.

A renowned conductor assembles an orchestra of Israeli and Palestinian youth, only to be drawn into a tempest of distrust and discord. For personal reasons, maestro Eduard Sporck agrees to arrange a symbolic concert for a Middle East peace summit in Italy. But corralling the young artists—sworn enemies from the Arab-Israeli divide—is easier said than done. As auditions begin in Tel Aviv, conflict between factions flares up almost instantly. It takes all the conductor’s skills to get his musicians in harmony, building to a tense, emotional finale. An impressive cast of Israeli and Palestinian non-actors, led by veteran Peter Simonischek, lends authenticity to this powerful drama, loosely inspired by Daniel Barenboim’s West–Eastern Divan Orchestra.

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