Like many other festivals across the country, the Miami Jewish Film Festival (MJFF), April 14 – 29, has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a hybrid mix of streaming and outdoor events.
The largest Jewish film festival in the world, MJFF is offering a record-breaking 140 films, including 100 features, eight world premieres and over 20 North American premieres, and 45 short films representing 25 countries, 39 first-time feature filmmakers and an unprecedented 47 films directed by women.
Drive-in and outdoor screenings are planned for locations in Wynwood and North Miami Beach, while all virtual screenings will be available for streaming within the state of Florida.
The 24th-anniversary festival is also serving up seven LGBT-themed features and shorts and all films will be free. Among the LGBT films are:
“Summer of ‘85”
François Ozon, director
France | 100 min. | 2020
French with English subtitles
Set in scenic coastal France in 1985, François Ozon explores the nostalgia-shaded, morosely romantic viewpoint of 16-year-old Alexis. Unsure whether to pursue his literary aspirations in school or get a job to appease his blue-collar dad, Alexis is desperate for affection when he is swept into the inner circle of an older, charming, Jewish stranger. Soon the boys’ flirtatious friendship blossoms into something much more.
“Kiss Me Kosher”
Shirel Peleg, director
Germany – Israel | 101 min. | 2020
Hebrew, English, German with English subtitles
Sparks fly when two families from wildly different cultural backgrounds plan a same-sex wedding in this screwball romantic comedy. After a string of not-too-serious ex-girlfriends, Shira has finally found real love with Maria, a German who has moved just to be with Shira in Tel Aviv. The two women plan to marry, eventually. When Shira's family inadvertently discovers the engagement, wedding plans kick into high gear.
“Marry Me However”
Mordechai Vardi, director
Israel | 63 min. | 2020
Hebrew with English subtitles
This documentary explores the lives of Orthodox-Jewish LGBT Israelis who choose to marry heterosexuals in order to create a family and comply with their own and their communities’ expectations. 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.
“Surviving the Silence”
Cindy L. Abel, director
U.S.A. | 79 min. | 2020
Years before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Col. Patsy Thompson presided over the board that dismissed Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer for being a lesbian. Thompson was forced to confront her own secret and moral dilemma: she, too, was a lesbian. While Cammermeyer’s memoir was adapted as a 1995 television movie produced by Barbra Streisand, Thompson’s story remained a secret — until now.
Organizers promise the virtual screenings and talkback sessions will “give storytellers and audiences alike the opportunity to come together, experience artists’ new work, connect with one another, and participate in more than 70 conversations with filmmakers, stars, and scholars from around the world.”
All Miami Jewish Film Festival films will be available to stream online for free, Thursday, April 15 – Thursday, April 29. More information and a complete schedule at miamijewishfilmfestival.org.