RBG documentary to close Toronto Jewish Film Festival

Sponsored feature: presented by Toronto Jewish Film Festival

TORONTO JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL 2018. Featuring films and TV screenings that highlight a diverse range of Jewish experiences around the world. May 3-13, 2018. Various venues. Schedule and ticket info at tjff.com.

“I ask no favour for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks,” says the diminutive but powerful Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the new documentary on her life, RBG. The daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, she defied all expectations of women in the legal profession, becoming America’s second female Supreme Court Justice and dedicating her life to raising the bar for equality. And as RBG is ramping up to hit theatres, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF) is giving Torontonians an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and see it first at the Toronto premiere.

Celebrating its 26th year, TJFF is the largest Jewish film festival in Canada and one of the largest in the world and showcases a diverse array of Jewish stories.

“Our mandate is to be a mirror of the Jewish experience around the world,” says TJFF artistic director Helen Zukerman, noting films this year tackle everything from Dracula to Bollywood.

With pieces from 23 countries, including two world premieres, six North American premieres, 26 Canadian premieres and 20 Toronto premieres, the festival continues to garner attention within the film world locally and internationally for its curated programming.

“There’s diversity in the lineup between countries, types of films and subject matter,” says program director Stuart Hands.

The melange of films this year includes narratives, documentaries, shorts and tributes to some of the biggest names in Jewish cinema. Festival programmers have also reached into the vaults of history, bringing back E.A. Dupont’s 1923 German silent film The Ancient Law. A precursor to the well-known Jazz Singer, this seminal work showcases Jewish life in 19th century Europe and will be screened alongside a live performance by pianist Donald Sosin and Klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals, playing their newly commissioned score for the film.

The festival also challenges the norms about what might be perceived to be a ‘Jewish’ film. Described as the kosher True Blood, Juda is an Israeli TV show about the world’s only Jewish vampire and will air its first three episodes at TJFF. The festival will also host Zombies and Zionism, a talk that discusses the significance of the recent surge of horror film and TV emerging from Israel.

Another unexpected gem is the Toronto premiere of Shalom Bollywood: The Untold Story of Indian Cinema. The documentary showcases the 2,000-year-old Indian Jewish community and introduces audiences to some of India’s great Jewish film stars who paved the way for Bollywood cinema and continue to contribute to it.

Hands believes the festival programming will appeal to a wide variety of film-lovers. “In a city with so many people from different cultures, the diaspora experience is something a lot of people can connect with,” he says. 

The films in the lineup also help viewers bridge the perceived gaps between themselves and others in society. Many of the films deal with the dangers of racism, fascism and unchecked power, which are increasingly becoming more relevant in an era defined by partisan lines and bulldog politics.

And if the prospect of groundbreaking films, world premieres and unexpected documentaries doesn’t entice you, festival-goers will be treated to complimentary treats while waiting in line.

The 26th Toronto Jewish Film Festival will host screening from May 3 to 13 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, Royal Cinema, Innis Town Hall, Spadina Theatre at Alliance Française, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk and Cineplex Cinemas Varsity and VIP.

Visit the Toronto Jewish Film Festival Spark Page for more about this year’s festival! 

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