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Kansas City’s 18th Jewish Film Festival set for Jan. 8-22

Kansas City’s 2017 Jewish Film Festival (KCJFF) will feature six diverse films from Israel and beyond. Now in its 18th year, the festival is presented by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. It opens Sunday evening, Jan. 8, and continues through Sunday, Jan. 22. All the films will be screened in The White Theatre at the Jewish Community Campus.


This year’s lineup was selected by a committee of dedicated volunteers who focused on bringing films that explore issues of Jewish identify, culture and values. Full details about the festival and teaser reels are available at www.thejkc.org/kcjffkit.

This year’s festival lineup includes:

• “In Search of Israeli Cuisine” — Sunday, Jan. 8 (6:30 p.m.)

• “Wunderkinder” — Thursday, Jan. 12 (7 p.m.)

• “Mr. Predictable” — Saturday, Jan. 14 (7:30 p.m.)

• “Magic Men” — Sunday, Jan. 15 (5 p.m.) 

• “To Life” — Thursday, Jan. 19 (7 p.m.)

• “Hummus: The Movie” — Sunday, Jan. 22 (5 p.m.)


Two additional films will keep the festival chatter going on throughout 2017. “Melting Away” is a heartfelt drama about a family drawn into crisis after the parents discover their child is secretly a cross-dresser. For the first time in the history of Israeli cinema, “Melting Away” was conceived after the brutal murder at the Tel Aviv LGBT Youth Center and the deep shock felt by Doron Eran, director, and his partner, screenwriter Bili Ben Moshe, after hearing of parents refusing to visit their injured kids at the hospital. “Melting Away” will be shown at The Tivoli Theatre in the late spring 2017.

In late summer 2017, enter the world of Ohad Naharin, renowned choreographer and artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company. The film “Mr. Gaga” captures the elusive beauty of contemporary dance and immerses the audience in the creative process behind Batsheva’s unique performances. The showing of “Mr. Gaga” will be held at a unique rooftop location in the Crossroads District. Tickets information for both “Melting Away” and “Mr. Gaga” will be available at www.thejkc.org/kcjff.org later this year.

On Jan. 8, the festival opens with the Israeli film, “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” a delicious look at the dynamic Israeli food and cultural scene. Mike Solomonov, an Israeli-born chef and winner of the prestigious James Beard Award, takes the audience across Israel exploring restaurants, home kitchens, wineries and cheese makers from more than 100 cultures that make up the country today. Through a procession of mouthwatering dishes, a touch of political context and interviews, a portrait of Israel’s complex culture is projected through its food. In partnership with the Israel Spirit Committee, there will be a free pareve dessert reception following the film.

The Jan. 12 film “Wunderkinder” is a German film set in the Ukraine in 1941 prior to the German invasion. Presented in partnership with the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, it’s about a deep friendship that develops between three musically talented children — two Jewish children both virtuosic and a talented German girl who share a love of music. Their friendship extends beyond the gaps of different religions and nationalities. The Nazis invasion destroys their world and they and their families deal with death threats war brings with it. This film has subtitles.

“Mr. Unpredictable,” the Saturday, Jan. 14, film, is in a new Israeli film in Hebrew with English subtitles. At age 5, Adi’s father died in the war in Lebanon. Before the army called him, he made Adi swear he would be a good boy, help his mother and be responsible.

Adi kept his promise. He helped more than enough at home, at school, in the military, in his marriage — he became the most thoughtful man you can imagine. Or to put it in other words — Adi became a “sucker” who was exploited by his mother, his wife, his son, his boss and nearly everyone he ever met.

Things change radically on the day Adi meets Natalia — a sweet, young, wild girl who entices Adi into a life full of emotions, of passion and romance. Now Adi has to choose between love and reason, between dreams and reality, between Natalia and his family.

Another Israeli film, “Magic Men,” will be shown on Sunday, Jan. 15. The film centers on a 78-year-old Greek man and his Hasidic rapper son, who have been estranged for many years. The father-son duo embark on a road trip from Israel to Greece searching for an old magician who saved the father’s life during World War II. The journey leads them to absurd encounters, and ultimately brings them to a final confrontation of father and son. This film is in Greek with English subtitles.

Thursday evening, Jan. 19, the film “To Life” will be screened. This German film with English subtitles tells the tale of aging cabaret singer Ruth and the confused Jonas. Ruth is running from her past while Jonas wants to avoid the future. However, the twosome manages to reaffirm life for each other in this moving drama.

The festival closes on Sunday, Jan. 22, with the Israeli film “Hummus: The Movie,” a delicious look at what has become the super food sweeping America. This delicious and nutritious food has had the power to bring Muslims, Christians and Jews together … in the Middle East, America and around the world.

This subtitled film centers on three main characters — a hard working Muslim woman, an ever-smiling Jew and a young Christian Arab on a restless quest for meaning. Despite their historical and cultural differences they all have one thing in common… a passionate love of hummus! The film tells the personal stories of the colorful men and women who simply live their lives and love their hummus. In partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City and the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, a special talkback session and dinner will follow the film at 6:30 p.m. (this dinner ticket is sold separately).

There are several ticket options for the films included in the Festival. Individual tickets may be purchased for $10. A Festival Pass, priced at $50, includes all six films. Tickets may be purchased on line at www.thejkc.org/kcjff.org or by calling 913-327-8054.