Four from Woody Allen at DC Jewish Community Center



President Lyndon Johnson was in the White House when young stand-up comic Woody Allen made his first movie. Originally a writer and actor, he soon took up directing duties and went about the methodical business of making one film a year. He’s released so many movies by now (42 is our count) that more of them are probably forgotten than remembered.

What is indelible is the Woody Allen character, instantly recognizable from New York to Paris to Buenos Aires. With that archetype of the anxious urban Jewish male, Allen has likely made his greatest cultural contribution.

“Woody Allen is such an iconic symbol. He goes from gallows humor to high literary humor and everything in between,” says Ilya Tovbis, director of the Washington Jewish Film Festival and the WJFF Year-Round at the Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center.

Now comes Woody Allen movie number 43, Blue Jasmine, set to open on July 26. In anticipation, the DCJCC will screen four Allen films July 8-21.

“It will be like the A side and B side of a record,” says Tovbis.

Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979) are on the A side. They’ll be backed with the lesser-known and venerated Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) and Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).

The four are from the “main part of his canon,” Tovbis says. “Two of the films [Annie Hall and Crimes and Misdemeanors] are more overtly Jewish, the other two less so.”

The festival will give aficionados a chance to socialize as well as to repeat favorite lines along with Allen, Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow and other stars.

On July 11 at 5 p.m., a Woody Allen Happy Hour at Black Whiskey will feature a specially designed Woody Allen cocktail, Tovbis says. The event is ironic, since neither Allen nor his on-screen doppelganger are known as tipplers.

The July 18 show will include a Woody Allen Trivia Night at 8:20 p.m., allowing hard-core Woodyphiles a chance “to strut their intellectual brawn,” he says.

And young families are the target audience of a morning showing of Manhattan on July 19 at 10:30 a.m. While babies and toddlers might not know what to make of Allen’s existential worries, their parents will enjoy the no-shush atmosphere.

Tovbis, who wasn’t born when Allen was making his earlier, funnier movies, is impressed that the 77-year-old filmmaker still comes out with strong films.

“It’s admirable that he’s unflappable” amid criticism about his work. “It’s hard for any filmmaker to have an even career.”  What Allen has accomplished is “unparalleled,” he says.

For a schedule of screenings and events, go to

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Twitter: @davidholzel

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