This year’s 10-day JxJ D.C. Jewish Film x Music Festival runs from May 11 through 21, at locations in the District, Bethesda and Fairfax, and features films, music and post-screening talks that represent Jewish life all over the world.
At press time, opening night’s “June Zero,” directed by Jake Paltrow, is sold out. But beloved Shalva Band performs May 13 at 9 p.m. During the 2018-19 season of Israeli TV’s “Rising Star” music competition show, the band became a finalist and won the hearts of the country. The group is composed of highly skilled, differently abled musicians.
A number of locally based musical artists will also take the stage during the festival. Among them, popular klezmer and jazz clarinetist Seth Kibel, who releases his latest recording, “Clown with a Stick,” on May 17; while a cohort of rising local instrumentalists from Bethesda’s Strathmore artistic residency program will share an evening of music from Jewish composers and songwriters.
A number of the films this year feature female directors who tell woman-centered stories, among them, Sylvie Ohayon’s “Haute Couture,” a French film about a Jewish seamstress; Anna Oliker’s Israeli documentary focusing on young Chasidic Americans struggling with substance addiction; and “Queen of the Deuce,” which tells the story of Chelly Wilson, a lesbian Jewish grandmother who owned porn theaters in New York in the 1970s.
I’m also looking forward to the documentary “Bella,” recounting the life and work of Jewish modern dance choreographer Bella Lewitzky, whose influence has yet to be fully recognized. D.C. filmmaker Aviva Kempner’s “A Pocket Full of Miracles” recounts the story of her mother and uncle’s lives in Poland before and during World War II. And one shorts program features D.C.-area women filmmakers crisscrossing genres from documentary to horror to narrative, featuring directors Hannah Dweck, Beth Mendelson and Abigail Tannebaum Sharon.
A second program, the Teen Film Contest, includes winning shorts responding to the prompt “Where do you belong?” representing high school student filmmakers from Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Bethesda Chevy Chase High School.
For information and tickets to JxJ, visit https://www.jxjdc.org/.