Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Wide Spectrum of Filmmakers and Artists Attend NYJFF Opening Night Reception

Stimuated by the opening night screening of the engrossing Israeli documentary A Hebrew Lesson, the filmmakers, artists and curators attending the evening's reception were in the mood to discuss their responses to the film as well as the projects on which they are currently working. William Phuan, program director of the Asian American International Film Festival, originally from Singapore, identified with the immigrants' struggle to adapt to a new country as depicted in the opening night film: He thought their stories will appeal to a broad global audience. Jean Tsien, film editor on Please Vote for Me and Shut Up and Sing, reflected on the pace of A Hebrew Lesson while comparing it to the cutting in most American films. Filmmaker Danae Elon (Another Road Home, NYJFF 2005) talked about one of her current projects, a romantic comedy about circumcision. Another filmmaker in attendance, Tanaz Eshaghian (Love Iranian-American Style, NYJFF 2006), just completed the online edit on her new film about transgender people in Iran.

Four of the filmmakers whose work is being shown in this year's festival: (from l to r) Jason Hutt, director of Orthodox Stance; Elinor Kowarsky, producer of A Hebrew Lesson; Mark Podwal, executive producer of House of Life; Noah Harlan, co-producer of Tehilim. (Photo: John Aquino)

Filmmaker Danae Elon (Another Road Home, NYJFF 2005)

(from l to r) Andrew Ingall, Assistant Curator for The Jewish Museum and NYJFF programmer; Stuart Hands, NYJFF blogger; and Abe Lebovic who appears in this year's Goyta. (Photo: John Aquino)

(from l to r) Rachel Chanoff, Independent Curator and NYJFF programmer; Aviva Weintraub, NYJFF Director and Associate Curator, The Jewish Museum; and Ilana Trachtman, director of this year's Praying with Lior.

The two Avivas: Aviva Weintrab and Aviva Kempner, director of The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg and the upcoming Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg.

(from l to r) Andrew Ingall; William Phuan, program director of Asian American International Film Festival; and Jean Tsien, film editor of Please Vote for Me and Shut Up and Sing.

Levi Okunov, fashion designer and participant in "Off the Wall," the Jewish Museum's open studio project.


williamphuan said...

Congratulations to the NYJFF team for putting together a fabulous festival! A Hebrew Lesson was an eye-opener. A funny, thoughtful and compassionate look at the immigrant experience in Israel, it also raises questions about what it means to be Jewish. Anyone who has ever been through the experience of trying to fit in a new place or learning a new language should check out this gem.

jeantsien said...

This is my first time at the New York Jewish Film Festival, when the producer announced "A Hebrew Lesson" was going to be 130 minutes long I was worried. But 2 hours later when the lights came on in the theater, I said to my friend, "Not a dull moment in the film." I thought it was a well structured and paced film, and the cast of characters were funny, moving and interesting, just a great casting job. It's hard to follow multiple characters in any film, and harder to give the right balance, but I was so immersed in each character's stories that when the film was over, I was totally satisfied and think there should be "Chinese Lesson" "English Lesson..." Arabic Lesson." Well done!