The Asheville Jewish Film Festival promotes the diversity of Jewish identity, exploring the dynamic influences of history and culture on the modern Jewish experience. While the films are situated in specifically Jewish contexts, the stories told and the themes of the films are of universal interest. The festival is meant to encourage dialogue between and among Jews, as well as between Jews and others about what it means to be Jewish in our community, nation, and world, creating awareness and pride in various and differing aspects of identity.
This year’s films:
Bye Bye Germany
At the end of the Third Reich, most surviving Jews from the Holocaust left Germany as fast as possible. But former Sachsenhausen inmate David Bermann (Moritz Bleibtreu), among about 4,000 other real-life survivors who remained, sees his blasted homeland as the land of opportunity. He dreams of reopening his family’s seized linen business in Frankfurt, but American forces deny him a license; with his haughty demeanor, David is suspected of being a Nazi collaborator by occupation forces and is subject to questioning by Special Agent Sara Simon (Antje Traue). Undaunted, he gathers a group of Jewish salesmen to help him peddle imported linens door-to-door, stressing that they are to be legitimate businessmen, not victims.
Disturbing the Peace
Disturbing the Peace follows a group of former enemy combatants – Israeli soldiers from the most elite units, and Palestinian fighters, many of whom served years in prison – who have come together to challenge the status quo and say “enough.” The film traces their transformational journeys from soldiers committed to armed battle to non-violent peace activists and their founding of Combatants for Peace (CfP). It is a story of the human potential unleashed when we stop participating in a story that no longer serves us, and take action to create a new possibility with the power of our convictions.
Thomas, a young German baker, is having an affair with Oren, an Israeli married man who takes frequent business trips to Berlin. When Oren dies in a car crash in Israel, Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking answers regarding his death. Under a fabricated identity, Thomas infiltrates the life of Anat, his lover’s newly widowed wife, who owns a small café in downtown Jerusalem. Thomas starts to work for her, creating German cakes and cookies that bring life into her café. Thomas finds himself involved in Anat’s life in a way far beyond his anticipation, and to protect the truth, he will stretch his lie to a point of no return.
Itzhak- If there’s anyone who personifies the resilience, the vision, and, ultimately, the contribution of the Jewish people, it’s Itzhak Perlman. The violin is the chosen instrument of Perlman, the vehicle he has used to overcome his own challenges and express himself to the world. In Perlman and his music, we hear the story of obstacles and survival, we trace the path of the Jewish people from the chaos of Europe to the promise of Israel, and we see the comfort of home and family and witness how humor and talent combine with discipline and drive. We hear his tales of growing up as the child of Polish survivors—where his mastery of the instrument takes him from his small neighborhood in Tel Aviv to the world’s most prominent stages and we hear his perspective on music and life.