Hot Docs isn't the only film fest to go online this week, so we've put together a few recommendations for movies to chase down at the TJFF.
TORONTO JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL from May 30 to June 7. tjff.com
Hot Docs isn’t the only spring film festival to go online this week. The Toronto Jewish Film Festival gets underway this Saturday (May 30), offering a slimmed-down selection of its original slate to viewers in the GTA. And unlike Hot Docs, these films are only being made available for 24-hour windows, with a handful of films going up every day. Since time is precious, here are five movies that we think look promising, spaced out over the entire festival.
TJFF 2020’s opening-night selection was shot in 2019, but it couldn’t be more appropriate for the current moment: the film consists entirely of a series of FaceTime calls between new mom Julie (Judith Chemla) in Paris and her absent husband Yuval (Arieh Worthalter), who’s stuck in Tel Aviv awaiting his visa so he can join her and their toddler in France. The title suggests things will not go well. More info here. (Available May 30 at 9 pm)
It sounds like the premise of a forgotten thriller: in Nazi-occupied Rome, three Catholic doctors invented a fictitious contagion that only affects Jewish people, the better to quarantine their patients in a Vatican hospital – and engineer their escape from the city. But it’s all true, and in this documentary, narrated by Ray Liotta, director Edwards unpacks the whole fascinating story. More info here. (Available June 2)
Documentary filmmaker Rappaport devotes himself to the dissection of Hollywood legends, and I mean that literally: in projects like Rock Hudson’s Home Movies, From The Journals Of Jean Seberg, Becoming Anita Ekberg and The Vanity Tables Of Douglas Sirk, he takes a semiotic approach to celebrity, letting a version of the performer narrate their own life and career. Rappaport’s latest looks at Conrad Veidt, an actor whose performances in The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari and The Man Who Laughs made him a star in his native Germany – and gave him the cachet to start over in Hollywood… where he was frequently cast as a Nazi. More info here. (Available June 4)
Set during the final days of the Soviet Union, this satire spins the tale of Boris Arkadiev (Aleksey Agranovich), a self-loathing comedian who becomes a favoured entertainer to the highest ranking members of the Communist Party – so long as he makes sure he keeps his material to their standards. Sounds like an allegory for the media landscape of Putin’s Russia, no? More info here. (Available June 6 at 9 pm)
Tóth’s low-key Hungarian drama is a grim character piece about two Holocaust survivors – an older man (Károly Hajduk) and a teen girl (Abigél Szõke) – who help each other recover from their devastating losses, only to see their new bond threatened as the country descends into Stalinist paranoia. More info here. (Available June 7)
The Toronto Jewish Film Festival runs online from May 30 to June 7. You can find the full schedule here.