The Miami Jewish Film Festival (MJFF) announced its programming for the 27th edition running from Thursday, Jan. 11 through Thursday, Jan. 25.
A hybrid of virtual and live events, MJFF features 120 films. The festival will showcase 94 feature films and 26 shorts from 25 countries, including 10 world premieres, 10 international premieres, 12 North American premieres, and 7 US premieres. Notably, 41 films (34% of the total program) are directed by women, with 40 first-time feature filmmakers.
As the largest Jewish film festival in America, MJFF's 27th Edition will offer over 80 in-theater screenings across eight venues in Miami Beach, Coral Gables, and North Miami. Additionally, an online component will make over 80 films available for streaming throughout Florida and the United States. To enhance accessibility, most English language titles will feature closed captioning made possible by a grant from the Miami Jewish Abilities Alliance.
Opening and Closing Night Spectacles: The Festival’s opening night film is James Hawes’ "One Life" starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as Sir Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker who helped rescue hundreds of children as the world was on the brink of WWII, an act of compassion that was almost forgotten for 50 years. The event will include the presence of acclaimed screenwriter Lucinda Coxon, who will provide an introduction and engage in a conversation following the film's premiere. The Festival’s closing night will feature the premiere of "The Monkey House" by renowned Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher, which was nominated for 11 Israeli Academy Awards. Both events will be held at the historic Miami Beach Bandshell’s open-air amphitheater.
International Guests: Among the 30 international guests attending this year’s festival are Stephen Lang ("Avatar") and Elsie Fisher ("Eighth Grade") for the premiere of their emotional drama "Avenue of the Giants," and Emmy-winning director Richard Shepard who will attend the premiere of his personal documentary "Film Geek" as well host a special 35mm presentation of Barry Levinson’s "Diner."
Spotlight on Israeli Cinema: Given the recent tragic events in Israel and rising antisemitism around the world, MJFF emphasizes its commitment to fostering empathy and understanding through cinema, with a focus on Israel's pivotal role in the Jewish narrative. This year’s Festival presents the world’s largest Israeli film program with 31 feature film premieres. Highlights include Ayelet Menahemi’s "Seven Blessings," Israel’s official Academy Award entry for Best International Feature Film, and the North American premiere of Israel’s biggest box hit of the year, the dazzling film noir rap opera "The City," with director, writer, and star Amit Ulman in attendance.
Other noteworthy Israeli films premiering at the Festival include the emotionally charged drama "My Daughter My Love," showcasing a career-best performance by Israeli superstar Sasson Gabay; the North American premiere of the touching musical "Victory," set against the backdrop of Israeli life after the Six Day War; and the international premiere of the inspiring film "Arugam Bay," which explores the unbreakable bond among a group of IDF veterans healing through the sport of surfing.
Expanded Headliners Program: MJFF’s Headliners program showcases standouts and selected award-winners from festivals around the world, with premieres including legendary Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio’s Cannes Competition title "Kidnapped"; Michael Winterbottom’s gripping historical thriller "Shoshana" about star-crossed love in British Mandatory Palestine that was 15 years in the making; Cédric Kahn’s enthralling courtroom drama, "The Goldman Case," which opened the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight program; and the inspirational true story of bravery Irena’s Vow, set during WWII and starring Sophie Nélisse from the series “Yellowjackets.”
Other notable headliners include Polish master Krzysztof Zanussi’s new poetic meditation of the human condition "Perfect Number," the North American premiere of the tense and thrilling WWII tale "Wil" directed by Tim Mielants, known for his work on “Peaky Blinders” and Marvel’s “Legion;” and producers Nancy Spielberg and Roberta Grossman’s breathtaking documentary "Vishniac" about one of the world’s greatest photographers. Audiences can also anticipate the world premiere of the humorous and nostalgia-infused film "The Catskills," with Lex Gillespie in attendance; and the touching film "Remembering Gene Wilder," which pays tribute to the endearing comic genius and features reminiscences by Mel Brooks, Carol Kane, and the late Alan Alda. In honor of Gene Wilder, the Festival will host a special 50th anniversary presentation of "Young Frankenstein" as an after hours program in collaboration with Popcorn Frights, one of America’s largest genre film festivals.
“Made in Florida” Focus: Reinforcing its dedication to showcasing local emerging talent, the Miami Jewish Film Festival shines a spotlight on “Made in Florida” movies this year, featuring three films receiving their world premieres. The lineup includes "Between the Stone and the Flower," chronicling the remarkable odyssey of acclaimed Miami author Genie Milgram on her decades-long quest to trace her Jewish lineage; as well as the emotional tale "Sholem Soul Goal," which captures a Miami family grappling with the loss of their youngest son; while the powerful saga "The Boy in the Woods" unfolds the astonishing true-life story of Holocaust survivor of Maxwell Smart, a South Florida resident. Other Florida-focused stories premiering at the Festival include the new ChaiFlicks production "Schmoozing and Cruising," a sumptuous journey delving into the diverse and flavorful world of Kosher cuisine; and the poignant short film "Jack & Sam," about the miraculous reunion of two Holocaust survivors after 80 years.
Community Engagement: Since the October 7 terrorist attack in Israel, the Miami Jewish Film Festival has been actively creating additional avenues for the community to come together in shared grief, companionship, and solidarity. Serving as a beacon of hope, the Festival aims to illuminate the path forward through the transformative power of film. In response to recent events, the Festival is organizing several community-driven events, free and open to the public. These include a family-friendly outdoor presentation of Israeli filmmaker Ariel Folman’s animated feature "Where Is Anne Frank" and a special presentation of "Hope Without Boundaries," a profound film highlighting the Israeli field hospital’s dedication to providing medical care for victims in the Ukraine war. The film’s premiere will feature the film’s subject and Sheba’s Field Hospital Director Yoel Har-Even in attendance.
Building Bridges/Breaking Barriers Program: To further its mission as a premier platform for the finest Jewish and Israeli cinema globally, MJFF is bolstering several innovative programs and initiatives this year. Notably, the festival is amplifying its Building Bridges/Breaking Barriers program, which is dedicated to presenting stories that emphasize the power inherent in the connection between the Black and Jewish communities during a period marked by escalating racism and antisemitism. Highlighted films in this program include the impactful "Rabbi on the Block," featuring director Brad Rothschild and film subject Tamar Menasseh participating in a panel discussion, as well as the documentary "One Struggle" that chronicles the historic alliance between African Americans and American Jews during the Civil Rights Movement. Another noteworthy inclusion is the SXSW acclaimed film "This World Is Not My Own," offering a profound exploration of the extraordinary artistry of Nellie Mae Rowe, the daughter of a former slave who created brilliant art in obscurity.
Next Wave Competition: Participating in the Festival’s Next Wave Competition, a sidebar judged by 21-to-35-year-old college students and young professionals, are engaging films such as the inspiring dance documentary "Call Me Dancer;" the Berlinale title "Delegation" portraying three Israeli teens on a class trip to Holocaust sites in Poland; the Israeli romantic charmer "Elik & Jimmy"; the musical comedy, "Less Than Kosher," exploring a 30-year-old singer’s spiritual discovery; and the moving coming-of-age story, "Sand Flakes," following an Israeli teen growing up in an isolated Negev town.
Holocaust Education: Collaborating with the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, the Festival is hosting multiple free community screenings featuring films centered around Holocaust themes, including the audience award-winning documentaries "UnBroken," with director Beth Lane in attendance, and Aviva Kampner’s heartfelt film "A Pocketful of Miracles," with the filmmaker also set to attend the Festival.
- Tickets for the festival’s in-theater and virtual events go on sale to the public on Wednesday, December 13th and sales continue throughout the festival.
- In addition to individual tickets ($11-$36), the festival offers All-Access Theater Badges ($325) providing entry to all in-theater events and All-Access Virtual Passes ($249) giving access to all films streaming in the festival’s digital screening room.
- Festival films will be available to stream starting Friday, January 12 until Wednesday, January 24 in MJFF’s virtual program.
- Full details on the program and tickets to the festival can be found at: www.miamijewishfilmfestival.org