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GCT Extra

2017 SWFL Jewish Film Festival

Fanny’s Journey Courtesy Menemsha Films

A rare opportunity to view high caliber independent movies created by Jewish filmmakers is coming from January 12 – February 7.

The highly anticipated 2017 Jewish Film Festival of Southwest Florida is an annual fest hosted by the Jewish Federation of Lee & Charlotte Counties, built to raise awareness and appreciation for the Jewish culture, history, values and talent.

This year’s films include stories of redemption, the Holocaust, assassination, love, music and much more.  Here is a little about what audiences can expect this January:


Playing: January 12

Sabena Hijacking is a powerful, docu-drama based on previously undiscovered audio recordings of the former pilot, Captain Reginald Levy.  Captain Levy, now deceased, was in command of the Sabena Flight 571 from Brussels, Belgium to Tel Aviv on May 8, 1972, when it was hijacked by four members of “Black September”, the armed wing of Fatah or Palestinian Liberation Organization.  The film shares the untold story of what exactly took place on the flight throughout the 30 hours of nerve-wrecking captivity, by fusing candid interviews with dramatic reenactments of the tense scenes inside the aircraft and the control tower as Captain Levy was held at gunpoint.


Playing: January 17

Not only can a good meal sooths grumbling stomach, it might well change the world.  In Search of Israeli Cuisine is a portrait of the Israeli people told through food.  A rich, complex and human story emerges as a literal face on the culture of Israel, is drawn from the more than 100 cultures that make up Israel today.  Through interviews with chefs, farmers, home cooks, vintners and cheese makers to visits to farms, markets, restaurants and kitchens, audiences will discover that this hot, multi-cultural cuisine has developed only in the last 30 years.


Playing: January 19

Fanny’s Journey is an incredible tale of bravery, strength and survival, a story of a daring young girl who will stop at nothing and fear no one.  In 1943, 13-year old Fanny and her younger sisters were sent from their home in France to an Italian foster home for Jewish children.  When the Nazis arrive in Italy, their caretakers desperately organize the departure of the children to Switzerland.  Suddenly left on their own, these eleven children will do the impossible to reach the Swiss border in order to survive.


Playing: January 22

When Adi was 5 years-old, his father died in the war in Lebanon.  Before he left home, his father made Adi swear he would be a good boy, help his mother and be responsible.  Adi kept his promise: he helped more than enough at home, at school, in the military, in his marriage— he became the most thoughtful man you can imagine.  Or to say it another way— Adi became a “sucker” who was exploited by his mother, his wife, his son, his boss and nearly everyone he ever met.  Things change radically on the day Adi meets Natalia— a sweet, young, wild girl who entices him into a life full of emotion, passion and romance.  Now Adi has to choose between love and reason, between dreams and reality, between Natalia and his family.


Playing: January 24

As vice-president of Jobbik, Hungary’s far right extremist party, Csanad Szegedi regularly espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denials.  He was a founder of the Hungarian Guard, a now-banned militia inspired by the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party complicit in the murder of thousands of Jews during WWII.  Then, came a revelation which transformed his life. Szegedi’s maternal grandparents were revealed to be Jewish and his beloved grandmother an Auschwitz survivor, who had hidden her faith fearing further persecution.  Keep Quiet depicts Szegedi’s three-year journey as he is guided by Rabbi Boruch Oberlander to embrace his newfound religion, forced to confront the painful truths of his family’s past, his own wrong doing and the turbulent history of his country.  But is this an astonishing transformation a process of genuine reparation and spiritual awakening or is he simply a desperate man with nowhere else to turn?


Playing: January 26

An incident during a Bar Mitzvah celebration leads to a gendered rift in a devout Orthodox community in Jerusalem, in this rousing, good hearted tale about women speaking truth to patriarchal power.  The day of Osher’s Bar Mitzvah begins auspiciously, with happy guests in their Sabbath best making their way through Jerusalem’s streets.  They congregate in the synagogue and the men look up adoringly at the women’s balcony where their wives, daughters, sisters, cousins and grandmothers are gathered.  Then disaster strikes: the floor under the balcony gives way, leaving several injured.  Most everyone regards the collapse as a tragic result of a structure flaw.  No one stops to wonder if it might have been a message from God.  Until Rabbi David comes along.


Playing January 31

In The Pickle Recipe, Joey Miller is a single father and deeply in debt.  To make matters worse, he’s a DJ and his work equipment is destroyed in a freak accident.  His daughter Julie’s Bat Mitzvah is only 4 weeks away and she is counting on him to DJ her party.  After exhausting all his options, he turns to his shady Uncle Morty, who agrees to give him the money he needs to get back into business, but only under on condition.  Joey must steal his Grandmother Rose’s most prized possession— her famous top secret dill pickle recipe.  It’s a recipe she has vowed to take to her grave.

– The Jewish Film Festival of Southwest Florida is showing at Regal Cinema Bell Tower in Fort Myers, FL.  Tickets are $96 for eight evening films and one matinee or $12 per individual movie ticket.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call (239) 481-4449 ext. 3.