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The Jewish Cultural Film Festival gives Spokane a look at rarely seen cinema

click to enlarge Mabul is one of the films featured at this weekend\'s festival.
  • Mabul is one of the films featured at this weekend\'s festival.

The Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival is showing three films this week, hoping to expose a part of the film industry most of us have never seen.

“We do it as a fundraiser for the organization,” says Larry Weiser, an organizer of the festival, which raises money for Spokane Area Jewish Family Services. “Also, the goal is to provide more of a cultural Jewish experience to the community.”

The films are chosen by committee, Weiser says, and are representative of modern Israeli life. Weiser says he hopes people go to all three movies, as each provides a unique depiction of Israeli life.

The festival starts on Thursday night with Mabul (The Flood). This Hebrew-language film is about a teenage boy’s confused coming of age. Although academically talented, Yoni is a scrawny weakling. He desperately wants to become stronger. Meanwhile, his mother and father are constantly fighting and use him as a messenger. Complicating things even more, his autistic brother comes home after years of living in an asylum. His return throws the family into chaos and forces them to reevaluate their relationships.

On Saturday, an hour before the 8 pm film, there will be a wine and dessert reception at Boots Bakery and Lounge. Afterward, walk across the street and see the The Other Son, which tells the story of two boys switched at birth. Joseph grew up in an affluent Jewish suburb in Tel Aviv. On his 18th birthday, as part of his mandatory military service, he gets a blood test. It turns out that he was accidentally switched at birth. His biological parents are Arabs living in the West Bank. They have raised Yacine, the biological son of the affluent Jewish couple. Both families grapple with this sudden identity shift.

Finally, on Sunday, there’s a screening of The World is Funny, a film with three distinct stories that may or may not be connected. A man wakes up in a small town in northern Israel after being in a coma for nine years. Another man’s only chance to save the love of his life is to make her laugh, and a women realizes she is pregnant, but has no idea how. Billed as a comedy/drama, don’t let the vague plot lines keep you from attending. The film, Israel’s No. 1 box office hit, has been nominated for 15 Israeli Academy Awards.

Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival • Thu, March 14, at 7:30 pm; Sat, March 16, at 7 pm (reception) 8 pm (film); Sun, March 17, at 7:30 pm • $7 (students/seniors) $10 (general) • Magic Lantern Theatre • 25 W. Main Ave. • magiclanternspokane.com • 209-2383

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