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Film Mitzvah 

We command you to attend the Jewish Cultural Film Festival.

click to enlarge A scene from the film \'Ahead of Time\'
  • A scene from the film \'Ahead of Time\'

The Jewish Cultural Film Festival returns to the Magic Lantern March 22nd through the 25th for its eighth go-round. Proceeds go to help Jewish Family Services continue the work of connecting estranged family members with their loved ones, offering emergency advice and support to those in need, and organizing events (including this one) to boost morale and family values in their community.

Good cause, good films. See below.

Ahead of Time

A documentary portrait of Ruth Gruber, a journalist from Brooklyn who has catalogued the tribulations of the last century. Gruber earned a Ph.D. at age 20 and became a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune at 24, and the film compiles her life like a scrapbook of vérité interviews and photos from her work. From being the first reporter to enter the Soviet Arctic to witnessing a Hitler rally, or aiding thousands of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust to having tea with Virginia Woolf, she stands as a living library of our recent history. Directed by Robert Richman, better-known for his cinematography on films like Waiting for Superman and An Inconvenient Truth, it’s a powerful punch of culture set nicely into a rather short film. Thu, March 22 at 7:30 pm. Rated PG

Mahler on the Couch

This fictional biopic focuses on one of Austria’s most famous composers, Gustav Mahler, and the years in which he was married to Alma Schindler. What begins as a swift courtship on the way to the altar ends in tragedy when one of their daughters passes away from illness. Their marriage deteriorates as they cope with the loss, Gustav forbids Alma to pursue any musical inclinations she once loved, and the 19-year age gap becomes a stress on them both. Alma enters into an affair with architect Walter Gropius while Gustav finds himself in regular therapy with Sigmund Freud, the two icons attempting to dissect Mahler’s failed relationship the best they can. Directed by Percy and Felix Adlon of Bagdad Café fame, the film delivers a beautiful score and visuals to boot, and fans of the duo’s previous work will note their characteristic symbolism and stylization. Sat, March 24 at 7:30 pm with a dessert reception to follow. Rated R

Viva Espania: A Tale in Four Octaves

A documentary centered on the life and career of Hanna Aharoni, the first Israeli singer to obtain international fame. Blending depictions of celebrity with that of her home life, the film offers a unique portrayal of a star unknown by most in America. Double feature with Degania (below) Sun, March 25 at 6:30 pm. Rated G

Degania: The World’s First Kibbutz Fights its Last Battle

Located in northern Israel and just over a century old, Degania, the establishment that pioneered the Kibbutz movement, is facing changes that will forever affect the future of its founding ideology. Originally a Zionist commune constructed by 10 men and two women with the credo “From each member according to his ability, to each member according to his need,” the attempt at utopia is up against the option to privatize and enter into the realm of modern economics. This documentary portrays the conflict among the commune’s members as they debate where to go next, Degania itself becoming a microcosm of the world at large, mulling the pros and cons of a capitalist society. Double feature with Viva Espania on Sun, March 25 at 6:30 pm. Discussion with Rabbi Tamar Malino to follow. Rated G

Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival 2012 General admission $10, students and senior $7 Magic Lantern Theater • 25 W. Main Ave., Suite 150 www.sajfs.org

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