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Beverly Hills News—L.A. Jewish Film Fest Opens With Reiner Award, Features BH Venues In Week of Screenings


Pictured: A scene from Cupcakes screening at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 3 at Laemmle’s Music Hall.

Pictured: A scene from Run Boy Run showing at 7 p.m., Sunday, May 4 at the Music Hall.

Pictured: Carl Reiner, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca in Ten From Your Show Of Shows screening Thursday at The Steve Tisch Cinema Center at the Saban Theatre.

The Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival (LAJFF)—a showcase of international features, documentaries and shorts that highlight Jewish stories, characters and traditions through film—has several Beverly Hills connections this year.

The Steve Tisch Cinema Center at the historic Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., is the opening venue on Thursday, May 1 for a tribute to comedy legend and former resident, the late Sid Caesar.

The event will begin with a rare screening of the documentary, Ten From Your Show Of Shows. The pre-eminent sketch comedy show, Your Show of Shows was requisite Saturday-night viewing in the ‘50s,  written by such names as Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Woody Allen and Caesar; and with a cast that included Reiner, Imogene Coca, Howard Morris and Caesar.

To accompany the tribute, the festival will honor Reiner, Caesar’s partner in comedy, with a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Phil Rosenthal, creator of Everybody Loves Raymond. Rosenthal will also moderate a Q&A with Reiner.

“Carl and Sid Caesar were pioneers in TV comedy,“ says  Hilary Helstein, LAJFF executive director. “They created and shaped what American humor is today.”

The evening will also honor late casting director Marvin Paige. President of the Classic Film Preservation Society, Paige cast such films as Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Woody Allen’s Take The Money And Run and Star Trek.

Tickets for the opening, co-sponsored by the Temple of the Arts, are $40 and include the ceremony, screening and a wine and dessert reception.

The Saban Theatre is the centerpiece of the Beverly Hills Performing Arts Center, tasked with the preservation, restoration, modernization, and endowment of the city landmark that was originally a vaudeville movie house, The Fox Wilshire.

“The establishment of the Steve Tisch Cinema Center will allow us to recapture the storied legacy of film premieres and screenings that began with the opening premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights in September 1930,” said Rabbi David Baron of Temple of the Arts. “It will enable us to continue keeping this venue open to our community for festivals and special film events.”

The theater now hosts feature and documentary film screenings along with numerous Producer’s Guild of America screenings. It has also been the location for many television and film shoots; and boasts state-of-the-art digital projection and screen capability with 7.1 surround sound in addition to its 1,900 seats.

To receive e-blasts on upcoming shows and for a complete listing of concerts and programs, visit

From Monday-Saturday, May 3-8 this year, the festival is now it in its ninth year.

The festival was basically created “from scratch,” says Helstein. In 2005 she was asked by the former Jewish Community Center at The Milken School to create a Jewish Film Festival like other cities had.

The creator of the documentary, As Seen Through These Eyes, about Holocaust survivors who documented the camps and their experiences though drawings, Helstein had worked with the center curating an exhibition on Samuel Bak, a Jewish painter and writer who survived the Holocaust.

With her relationship with the center, contacts in the film world, and a team of volunteers, she embarked on a city-wide festival.

Since the first festival in 2006, the event has grown every year; and this year more than 25 films will be shown in venues ranging from Pasadena,  Encino, Beverly Hills and Redondo Beach.

“We cast a wide net, “ says Helstein. “We work to deliver these ‘Jewish’ films that many people only see in this kind of setting.”

A screening committee watches films and makes recommendations to put together the program, Helstein reports. Films come from all over the world—Europe, Canada,  South America, and of course, Israel. “We have film markets pulling films from everywhere and for me. I work extra hard to have films that haven’t been screened here,” says Helstein. “The goal is to bring these films to the greater L.A. community to educate, build bridges and engage in conversation in our diverse Jewish community. We have created an event that people come to night after night, and meet people from other synagogues. Each night is a special event,” says Helstein.

Festival highlights including L.A., West Coast and world premieres include:

Cupcake, by Israeli director Eytan Fox (Walk on Water, The Bubble), will screen at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 3 at  Laemmle’s Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd. The “sweet” musical comedy is about a diverse group of young neighbors in Tel Aviv who get together to watch Universong, a Eurovision-like television song contest. (Think America’s Got Talent.)

The evening will feature cupcakes courtesy of Mickey Fine Pharmacy & Grill. “We love to work with local businesses,” said Helstein.

• The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life follows another short starting at 3 p.m., Sunday, May 4 at The Music Hall. The 38-minute film, winner of the 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short,  showcases Alice Herz Sommer, who died in February as the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor and pianist. She was 109 when the film was made, 110 at her death.

Herz Sommer played more than100 concerts in Theresienstadt, finding a way to survive in the camp… through music.

A Q&A with the film’s Executive Producer Phillip Goldfine follows the screening.

The Sturgeon Queens, a documentary about the famous Russ and Daughters emporium in New York City’s Lower East Side, will screen at 5 p.m., Sunday, May 4 at the Music Hall. Four generations have kept the famed lox-and-herring deli in business for 100 years; and the film interviews the two daughters for whom the store was named, Hattie, now 100 and Anne, 92.

• The film will screen with the documentary Mondays With Monty, a montage of clips from a web series “Mondays with Monty” produced by The Jewish Journal. Each episode features a personal anecdote from resident Hall’s life.

A Q&A with Hall, born Monte Halparin to Orthodox Jewish parents in Winnipeg, will follow the film. Treats will be provided by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Brent’s Deli & Western Bagel.

Run Boy Run, a Polish, German and French production will screen at 7 p.m., Sunday, May 4 at the Music Hall.

Based on the bestseller by Uri Orlev, “it’s a beautiful film about a boy who survives the Holocaust by living alone in the forest and then posing as a Polish Christian orphan,” said Helstein.

Sponsors of the screening include the Anti-Defamation League and The Los Angeles Museum of The Holocaust.

• Shown outside of Israel for the first time, The Life of the Jews in Palestine: 1913 will screen at the Music Hall at 7:30 p.m., Monday, May 5.

The 20-minute film is a look at the pioneers of the First and Second Aliyah in Palestine. The film was screened with much success in Europe on the eve of World War I, but then disappeared without a trace. In 1997, a lone negative was discovered in a vault in France. “The film shows clips of different parts of  the first and second wave of immigrants to Palestine and the building of the state of Israel,” says Helstein.  “It shows setting up kibbutzes,  working in fields, farming, schools —the building of what Israel is today.”

• Israeli film Operation Sunflower, starring Yehoram Gaon will follow the documentary.

In a story that took place in Jerusalem and Paris during the 1950’s-60’s, Ben Gurion gives an order to develop Israel’s nuclear option – as an insurance policy for the survival of the Jewish people. At the center of this story are the head of the Mossad as well as a key nuclear physicist together with his doctoral students who are recruited to develop the bomb for Israel.

The following Q&A will feature director Avraham Kushnir and star Gaon.

The films are shown in cooperation with  The Jerusalem Foundation in conjunction with the Israel Film Archive-Jerusalem Cinematheque, and the screening is co-sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles.

• German documentary The Eleventh Day – the Survivors of Munich 1972 will screen at 7:30 p.m., Monday, May 5 at  Temple Emanuel, 8844 Burton Way.

Filmed in 2012, the movie commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Munich Olympics when 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists during a hostage drama and botched rescue effort. Eight athletes escaped. In the film, they return to Munich and for the first time tell how they survived and how their lives changed forever.

The screening , in partnership with Temple Emanuel and Hadassah, will include a  Q&A with Onn Nir and Keren Hantman.

Transit, The Philippines official entry in the 2013 Academy Awards, will screen at 7:30  p.m., Tuesday, May 6 at the Music Hall.

A portrait of Filipino guestworkers in Israel, the film blends stories of Filipino families and their Israeli-born children of mixed identity, who only know Israel as their “home” and only speak Hebrew.

The screening will be followed with a Q&A with director Hannah Espia.

• The documentary Brave Miss World will screen at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 7 at the Music Hall. The story of Israeli beauty queen Linor Abargil, who was abducted and raped in Milan, Italy two months before being crowned Miss World in 1998, takes her around the world advocating victims’ rights.

The screening is in partnership with Jewish World Watch and the National Council of Jewish Women

With a score by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer, the film was produced by Cecilia Peck (daughter of Gregory) who will take part in a Q&A following the screening.

Tickets for individual screenings may be purchased at or by calling 800-838-3006 For general information,  call 213-368-1661.

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