The theme “Neighbors Near and Far” will be explored at the 23rd annual Boston Jewish Film Festival, which opens Nov. 2 and continues through Nov. 13. 

The Boston Jewish Film Festival presents 32 of the most innovative films on Jewish themes from around the world in Greater Boston area theatres. Films are accentuated by panel discussions and with visits by more than a dozen directors, actors and subjects from such countries as Israel, France, Germany and Hungary. 

“Our films this year center on intriguing aspects of being neighbors,” says Artistic Director Sara L. Rubin. “Neighbors share the bonds formed by people who live near one another. But neighbors are also people who share dreams and goals, no matter how far away they live. At the same time, neighbors can find themselves in conflict with one another. Our filmmakers surprise us with tensions and rapport as they explore these shifting relationships, whether in works of fiction or nonfiction.” 

Highlights this year include 3 North American premieres, 5 U.S. premieres, 2 East Coast premieres and 14 New England premieres. The Festival also will screen a program of shorts. Suburban screenings begin Oct. 25 and run through Nov. 15.  Tickets will go on sale Monday, Sept. 19 on the Boston Jewish Film Festival website ( 

The Festival is New England’s largest Jewish cultural event, with last year’s attendance at about 10,000 people.

 Neighbor-Themed Films

The opening night film is Kaddish for a Friend. Muslim teen Ali Messalam and his family move into Berlin’s Kreuzberg area where he is pressured by friends to vandalize the apartment of his elderly, feisty Russian neighbor, Alexander Zamskoy. To avoid being deported, Ali’s parents send him back to Zamskoy’s place to repair the damage. This coming-of-age story, inspired by two real people, is a stirring feature debut by Moscow-born, German filmmaker Leo Khasin, who will be present. 

The Centerpiece Film is Deaf Jam. Teen Aneta Brodski attends a school for the deaf in Queens and inhabits the exuberant world of American Sign Language (ASL) poetry. Filmmaker Judy Lieff chronicles Aneta’s bold entry into Manhattan’s spoken-word slam scene, where Aneta, an Israeli immigrant, meets Tahani, a hearing Palestinian-American slam poet. The two collaborate on a powerful duet that mirrors the complex worlds they share. Deaf Jam uses innovative film techniques to honor ASL as a three-dimensional language that exists in space, like dance. Brodski will be present, and Ayisha Knight-Shaw, a deaf poet, will perform, signing in ASL. 

Closing night features Mabul (Flood). As Yoni chants the story of Noah and the Ark in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah, his autistic older brother, Tomer, unexpectedly returns home, forcing the entire family to cope with his presence. Their mother is a gifted day-care director in a troubled marriage to a crop duster too stoned to fly. Mabul garnered awards in Haifa and Berlin, nominated for six Ophir (Israeli Oscars). Director Guy Nattiv will be present.

 New for 2011

The Festival presents the inaugural “Caffeine and Conversation,” an event where audiences can meet film artists, including directors, actors and documentary film subjects. 

Meet ALS patient Avi Kremer, the mesmerizing star of Beating Time. Kremer, who graduated from Harvard Business School, is slated to speak about his battle to find a cure; neurologist Dr. Robert Brown, UMass Medical Center, Worcester, will join him. 

The eye-opening film Standing Silent. This film breaks a compelling news story about child molestation by Orthodox rabbis in Baltimore. A distinguished panel, including the journalist who broke the story, will tackle this controversial and alarming issue. 

The Festival inaugurates a “Short Films Competition.” Short films, long known as the “calling cards” of young filmmakers, are increasingly popular. Viewers will watch top selections and then vote for a winner. 

Watch the newest in Israeli TV shows. Directors often migrate between film and TV in this small marketplace, and the quality of shows is high. See new visions of Israel in The Office, Yellow Peppers and Another Life

The Festival offers a “Surprise Screening,” reserved for a last-minute new film or a reprise of a smash hit. Check our website, Facebook or Twitter to find late-breaking news. 

Festival Locations, Tickets, Sponsors

Primary venues are the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), the West Newton Cinema and the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline. Screenings also take place at AMC Framingham, the Arlington Capitol Theatre, Hollywood Hits Premiere Theatres in Danvers, Showcase Cinema de Lux Patriot Place in Foxboro, Showcase Cinemas Randolph and Fenway Community Health in Boston. 

The Festival’s website offers film descriptions and schedule information. Tickets can be purchased through

The Festival offers two pass options: the all-access Friends Pass, at $225 and the REELPass, a $30 three-film pass. 

Tickets for most films are $12 for general admission and $11 for seniors, students, and current members of The Boston Jewish Film Festival, MFA, Coolidge Corner Theatre, and WGBH. Discount tickets for groups of 10 or more are available at $9 per person. For more information, or to request a mailed brochure, contact the Festival office at or 617-244-9899 x200. 

Lead Festival sponsors are the Cambridge Trust Co., Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Consulate General of Israel to New England, CBIZ Tofias, Hebrew SeniorLife, Pageo Fine Jewelry, Staples Advantage and SwissAir. 

About The Boston Jewish Film Festival

The Boston Jewish Film Festival presents the best contemporary films from around the world on Jewish themes at its annual November Festival and throughout the year. Through features, shorts, documentaries, and conversations with visiting artists, the Festival explores Jewish identity, the current Jewish experience, and the richness of Jewish culture in relation to a diverse modern world. The Boston Jewish Film Festival, Inc. is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit arts organization.