Arts & Culture

34th Annual Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival, March 22-28 at Amherst Dipson Theater

The 34th annual Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival – the third longest running festival of its kind in North America – will present 11 award-winning and critically acclaimed films from around the world including Australia, Israel, Germany, Poland, Austria, Canada and the United States.

“The Festival has striven to obtain the very best new independent international films which should not only amuse and enthrall the viewer, but should also invite contemplation on societal issues of ethics and justice,” says festival chair Michael Silverman.

Included in the Festival line-up, the film Working Woman, whose protagonist must support her family, while fending off unwanted advances from her boss, bringing into consideration the #MeToo movement. In the film The Waldheim Waltz, we witness a case study of how a lying, deceitful power-monger rises to the Presidency of his country by concealing his motives and past actions. 

Last year Mark Sommer from the Buffalo News was quoted saying, “The Jewish Film Festival offers poignant, powerful movies with compelling stories from around the world that have a universal appeal. There is something for everyone with your pick of documentaries, dramas, and comedies”.

The BIJFF kicks-off with a fundraising event, A Conversation with Linda Reisman, Saturday, March 9, 7:30-10 pm at the Jewish Community Center, Benderson Family Building. The event will feature producer Linda Reisman, who was raised in Buffalo. Ms. Reisman has worked with a range of writers, directors and actors and her most recent film, LEAVE NO TRACE, was released to great critical acclaim last summer and is now an Oscar contender. She serves as the Senior Distinguished Producer-in-Residence at Emerson College and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Producers Guild of America. Following the event there will be a wine and dessert reception and guests who attend will receive a free ticket to any of the regular film screenings presented during the film festival, March 22 – 28 (some restrictions apply). Tickets are $36.

A special screening of the Academy Award winning film Joe’s Violin, will take place on Saturday, March 16 at the Jewish Community Center, Benderson Family Building, 2640 North Forest Road in Amherst, NY. The event, beginning at 7:00 pm, will feature a musical performance by students of Buffalo String Works, a creative, grassroots program serving refugee students in Buffalo, New York, inspired by the international El?Sistema? model which cultivates students to be agents of social change. Founded and led by local musicians, Buffalo String Works fosters hope and compassion through high-quality music instruction for refugee children. Following the screening of Joe’s Violin there will be a panel discussion and a dessert reception. Panelists include Yuki Numata Resnick, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Buffalo String Works, Nay Blue Myint, student musician of Buffalo String Works, Jaman E. Dunn, Assistant Conductor, Community Engagement – Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Mike Wrona, owner of Wrona’s House of Violins, and moderator Bradley Fuster, D.M.A., Percussionist and Interim Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, Keuka College. Tickets are $18/general, $10/students. The Accountant of Auschwitz, making its US premier at the festival, will also offer a Q&A with Director Matthew Shoychet following the Sunday, March 24 screening at the Amherst Dipson Theatre.

The following films will be included during the festival, March 22-28, 2019:


93Queen follows Rachel “Ruchie” Freier, a no-nonsense Hasidic lawyer and mother of six who is determined to shake up the “boys club” in her Hasidic community by creating Ezras Nashim, the first all-female ambulance corps in NYC.

Director: Paula Eiselt

Country: United States

Year: 2018

Duration: 85 minutes

Languages: English

Genre: Documentary

Rating: PG equivalent

Showings: Mon, March 25 | 6:00 pm, Thurs, March 28 | 6:00 pm

The Accountant of Auschwitz

Oskar Gröning, known as the “Accountant of Auschwitz,” was charged with the murder of 300,000 Jews. When he took the stand in 2015, at the age of 94, his trial made headlines worldwide. The debate around his prosecution is at the centre of this historic yet contemporary look at justice. As survivors travel to Germany to testify, the heinous acts of the Holocaust remain vivid and traumatic. For some, there is no grey area: Gröning was witness and therefore complicit, regardless of his duty to follow orders. Others look at a frail man in the last years of his life and see no reason to pursue charges. Bringing war criminals to justice, with no statute of limitations, asks fundamental moral questions with few simple answers. From Nuremberg to the new alt-right, The Accountant of Auschwitz constructs a stark reminder that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Director: Matthew Shoychet

Country: Canada

Year: 2018

Duration: 78 minutes

Languages: English and German

Genre: Documentary/History

Rating: PG equivalent

Showings: Sun, March 24 | 3:30 pm, Thurs, March 28 | 3:30 pm

Bye Bye Germany

Frankfurt,1946. David Bermann and his Jewish friends have escaped the Nazi regime and are now dreaming of leaving for America. But how will they get the money in these tough post-war times? The smooth-talking businessman focuses on what the Germans now need most: fine bed linens nicely wrapped in amusing stories! The six talented entertainers go from home to home, praising housewives with chutzpah until the flattered ladies have no choice but to buy their irresistible items. Business flourishes and a bright new future can be seen on the horizon. But questions about Bermann’s past catch up with him.

Director: Sam Garbarski

Country: Germany

Year: 2017

Duration: 102 minutes

Languages: German/English

Genre: Comedy/Drama

Rating: PG-13 equivalent

Showings: Mon, March 25 | 8:00 pm, Wed, March 27 | 6:00 pm

The Cakemaker

Thomas, a young and talented German baker, is having an affair with Oren, an Israeli married man who dies in a car crash. Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking answers. Keeping his secret for himself, he starts working for Anat, his lover’s widow, who owns a small café. Although not fully kosher and despised by the religious, his delicious cakes turn the place into a city attraction. Finding himself involved in Anat’s life in a way far beyond his anticipation, Thomas will stretch his lie to a point of no return.

Director: Ofir Raul Graizer

Country: Israel/Germany

Year: 2017

Duration: 105 minutes

Languages: Hebrew/German, English

Genre: Drama

Rating: R equivalent

Showings: Sat, March 23 | 7:00 pm, Wed, March 27 | 8:00 pm

Geula (Redemption)     

Menachem, a former frontman for a rock band, is now religious, and a father to a six-year-old. When his daughter is diagnosed with cancer, he must find a creative solution to fund the expensive treatments. He reunites his band for one last tour. The journey to save his daughter exposes old wounds and allows him to reconnect with his secular past. Menachem understands that only a new connection to his past and to his music can pave the road to his own redemption.

Director: Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yacov

Country: Israel

Year: 2018

Duration: 104 minutes

Languages: Hebrew with English Subtitles

Genre: Drama

Rating: PG equivalent

Showings: Mon, March 25 | 3:30 pm, Thurs, March 28 | 8:00 pm

Joe’s Violin

A 91- year old Holocaust survivor donates his violin to a local instrument drive, changing the life of a 12-year-old school girl from America’s poorest congressional district, and unexpectedly, his own.

Directed By:  Kahane Cooperman,

Country: United States

Year: 2016

Duration: 24 minutes

Languages: English

Genre: Short Documentary

Rating: G equivalent

Showings: Fri, March 22 | 3:30 pm, Tues, March 26 | 1:00 pm

Outback Rabbis

FRISCO KID meets PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT. On a road trip like no other, ultra-Orthodox Chassidic Rabbis hit the Aussie bush looking for ‘lost Jews’. Leaving the comfort of Melbourne Jewish life, two Rabbis and their families head into the heart of Australia on a journey filled with surprising and emotional encounters with Aussie outback characters and laced with Jewish wit, music and culture.

Director: Danny Ben-Moshe

Country: Australia

Year: 2018

Duration: 77 minutes

Languages: English

Genre: TV Documentary

Rating: PG equivalent

Showings: Fri, March 22 | 3:30 pm, Tues, March 26 | 1:00 pm

Past Life

Past Life, inspired by true events, tracks the daring 1977 trans-European odyssey of two sisters – one an introverted ambitious classical music composer, and the other a combative liberal magazine editor. As they try to unravel a disturbing wartime mystery that has a cast foreboding shadow on their entire lives, they realize that freedom from the shackles of the past requires painful sacrifices, as does the struggle to discover one’s unique voice.

Director: Avi Nesher

Country: Israel/Poland

Year: 2016

Duration: 109 minutes

Languages: English/German/Polish/Hebrew

Genre: Drama

Rating: PG-13 equivalent

Showings: Sun, March 24 | 6:00 pm, Tues, March 26 | 6:00 pm

The Waldheim Waltz

A film about truth and lies and how a dishonest man can rise to power.

Ruth Beckermann documents the process of uncovering former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim’s wartime past. It shows the swift succession of new allegations by the World Jewish Congress during his Austrian presidential campaign, the denial by the Austrian political class, the outbreak of anti-Semitism and patriotism, which finally led to his election.

Created from international archive material and what Beckermann shot at the time, the film shows that history repeats itself time and time again.

Director: Ruth Beckermann

Country: Austria

Year: 2018

Duration: 93 minutes

Languages: German, English, French

Genre: Documentary

Rating: PG equivalent

Showings: Mon, March 25 | 1:00 pm, Wed, March 27 | 3:30 pm

Who Will Write Our History

Who Will Write Our History, tells the story of Emanuel Ringelblum and the Oyneg Shabes Archive, the secret archive he created and led in the Warsaw Ghetto. With 30,000 pages of writing, photographs, posters, and more, the Oyneg Shabes Archive is the most important cache of in-the-moment, eyewitness accounts from the holocaust. It documents not only how the Jews of the ghetto died, but how they lived. The film is based on the book of the same name by historian Samuel Kassow.

Director: Roberta Grossman  

Country: United States

Year: 2018

Duration: 95 minutes

Languages: English/Yiddish/Polish

Genre: Documentary

Rating: PG equivalent

Showings: Sun, March 24 | 1:00 pm, Tues, March 26 | 3:30 pm

Working Woman

While her husband struggles to keep his restaurant in business, a mother of three lands a job as an assistant to a powerful, but sexually harrassive realtor and brings herself to fight back, in this absorbing drama by Michal Aviad.

Director: Michal Aviad

Country: Israel

Year: 2018

Duration: 93 minutes

Languages: Hebrew with English Subtitles

Genre: Drama

Rating: R equivalent

Showings: Sun, March 24 | 8:00 pm, Tues, March 26 | 8:00 pm

2019 Film Festival Schedule

Amherst Dipson Theatre

3500 Main Street/Buffalo, New York, 14226 

(716) 834-7655

Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre, JCC Benderson Building, 2640 North Forest Rd

Saturday, March 9                               7:30 pm                 Fundraiser event with producer Linda Reisman

                                                                A Conversation with Linda Reisman

JCC Benderson Building, 2640 North Forest Rd

Saturday, March 16                             7:00 pm                 Special Event

Transformative Generosity: How donated instruments and music change lives

Amherst Dipson Theatre, 3500 Main Street, Buffalo, NY

Friday, March 22                                 3:30 pm                 JOE’S VIOLIN/OUTBACK RABBIS                                                                                

Saturday, March 23                             7:00 pm                 Opening Night

                                                                                                THE CAKEMAKER

Sunday, March 24                               1:00 pm                 WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY

                                                                3:30 pm                 THE ACCOUNTANT OF AUSCHWITZ

                                                                                                Speaker: Matthew Shoychet, Director

                                                                6:00 pm                 PAST LIFE                                                                                           

                                                                8:00 pm                 WORKING WOMAN 

Monday, March 25                              1:00 pm                 THE WALDHEIM WALTZ

                                                                3:30 pm                 GEULA (REDEMPTION)

                                                                6:00 pm                 93QUEEN

                                                               8:00 pm                 BYE BYE GERMANY

Tuesday, March 26                             1:00 pm                 JOE’S VIOLIN/OUTBACK RABBIS

                                                                3:30 pm                 WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY              

6:00 pm                 PAST LIFE

                                                               8:00 pm                 WORKING WOMAN

Wednesday, March 27                       3:30 pm                 THE WALDHEIM WALTZ

                                                                6:00 pm                 BYE BYE GERMANY

                                                                8:00 pm                 THE CAKEMAKER

Thursday, March 28                            3:30 pm                 THE ACCOUNTANT OF AUSCHWITZ          

                                                                6:00 pm                 93QUEEN                            

                                                                8:00 pm                 GEULA (REDEMPTION)

Tickets & Passes

Tickets and passes may be purchased in advance at either JCC member services desk, or at the theatre door ½ hour prior to each film.

General Single Film Tickets $10

Flex Pass $50 – Six tickets for the price of 5! Pass may be shared. Cannot be used for special events.

Children 18 & under FREE with parent to all films except (March 9 and16 special events)

Fundraising event, A Conversation with Linda Reisman, Saturday, March 9, 7:30-10 pm at the Jewish Community Center, Benderson Family Building. Event includes presentation by producer Linda Reisman, followed by a wine and dessert reception, and one free ticket to any of the films presented during the film festival, March 22 – 28. Tickets are $36.

Transformative Generosity: How Donated Instruments and Music Change Lives, Saturday, March16, 7:00-9 pm at the Jewish Community Center, Benderson Family Building. Music by students of Buffalo String Works, followed by Academy Award Winning documentary Joe’s Violin, Panel discussion and dessert reception. Tickets are $18/general, $10/student.

Films will be shown March 22-28 at the Amherst Dipson Theatre, 3500 Main Street. Trailers, schedules and ticket purchasing at

About the author


News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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