Monday, January 7, 2008

Behind the Scenes: An Interview with NYJFF Director and Associate Curator for The Jewish Museum, Aviva Weintraub

How have you seen the festival evolve over the years?
It has really grown in many ways. This year we’re presenting thirty-two films over two and a half weeks. And by comparison, at the festival in 1992, we had eleven films over eight days. In terms of content, the biggest change is that it has grown from a very tightly focused thematic festival where the first few years focused on films from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. And now it is a truly global international festival.
What filmmakers have you seen emerge and grow artistically over the course of the festival’s history? Our opening night film, A Hebrew Lesson, has a team of directors and producers. One of its directors, David Ofek, is someone whose work we’ve shown in the past. We showed a film of his called The Barbecue People that we loved—it was a narrative film. And it’s great to see him continuing with these deep explorations of human relationships. There is another filmmaker we have come back to several times: the Hungarian director Peter Forgacs. This year we’re showing his film Miss Universe 1929. And we’ve shown quite a few of his films over the years. The way he uses found footage and incorporates the narrative seems to get richer and richer.
What made the festival decide to do a tribute to director Axel Corti? We’ve shown some of his films individually over the years here at the museum. Most recently, we showed his film Young Doctor Freud. The response to that was so enthusiastic that it fed my own personal interest in his work—I thought that there might be a broad audience for it. And when I think about how under-recognized he is here, this seemed like a great opportunity to try and show several of his films.
Have there been any other retrospectives of his work? Not that I know of.
With so many strong films coming out of Israel, is it hard balancing the Israeli content with the rest? This year it was particularly hard because, I think, a lot of people have been reading in the press that the most recent films from Israel have been particularly strong. There were a lot of winners in the Cannes Film Festival and there’s quite a lot of buzz about Israeli film. This year we have a larger proportion of Israeli film than in any previous festival year. It’s actually a nice confluence with the fact that 2008 is the sixtieth anniversary of the State of Israel—so we’re going to start celebrating in January.

1 comment:

tk said...

I am glad to see there is more Israeli content in this years festival.

Great Blog!