Film Festival Not Jewish Enough


The N.Y. Jewish Film Festival recently finished its run, and has been often been the case, the choice of movies occasionally leads the viewer to note that some have little/no actual Jewish content or connection.

One film in the festival highlighted by The Jewish Week, “Pat Steir: Artist” (“Through a Lens Sensitively,” Jan. 18), focuses on a public figure who is ostensibly Jewish, but barring a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flash of her placing stones on her father’s grave (quite literally two seconds of screen time), there is absolutely no indication that she is (presumably born) Jewish, no mention of her Judaism, nor any note of Jewish influences on her art, etc. This film was indeed interesting (and typical of film festival fare), but it shouldn’t have taken a slot in this festival away from another film that actually conveyed a Jewish connection.

Unfortunately, this is not a unique case. I’m made a point of trying to catch as many films as I can in this festival every year, and there are usually a few which leave me walking away with the same impression. This festival generally does a good job of choosing diverse/interesting films to screen, but I would hope that The Jewish Museum (which co-sponsors this film festival) maintains a firm grasp on its first name.