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Chair's Message

To all our sponsors, Patron Circle Members, long-time supporters, and new friends
On behalf of the Board of Directors, welcome to our 26th Annual Toronto Jewish Film Festival!

I am writing this greeting two months before the Festival’s Opening Night in order to make the deadline for printing this programme book which, as you will see, overflows with riches. Our dedicated and discerning programmers once again bring us thought-provoking and entertaining documentaries and features from around the Jewish world: documentaries that help us understand and make sense of this world; features that take us to places and introduce us to fictional characters who become alive, who teach us about ourselves.

Tennyson, in his dramatic poem Ulysses, and in the voice of the eponymous narrator says: “I am a part of all that I have met”. The films we will experience over the eleven days of TJFF 2018 will introduce us to new worlds both literal and metaphorical, and we will become part of those worlds, sometimes for only the duration of the film, and often, for much longer. And we will share these encounters with our fellow filmgoers.

This past February, I attended the Chai Tea screening of Foxtrot, an engrossing Israeli feature that I highly recommend (it was commercially released very shortly after our screening). The audience was so silent, so moved by and absorbed in the art and implications of the narrative, so captivated by the masterful performances. I was sharply aware of the difference watching a film in a theatre can make.

Why do we choose to be together in a movie theatre, rather than just watch the story on a TV or computer screen? It must be more than the larger-than-life images, although the power of these images is prodigious. The common experience brings us together in intangible ways creating a community in the darkened space. We sit with each other, we may not know the people around us, but we feel each other’s presence, we sense the diverse and divergent minds and emotions, we react as one and as individuals to the art and artifice on the screen, and sometimes we even get to debate each other or question the filmmakers themselves. We learn and we grow through these encounters. “Life’s meaning derives from our progress through it” quotes Daniel Mendelsohn in his recent memoir An Odyssey. Film can lead us on an unfamiliar journey that can be challenging, enriching and enlarging.

The woman who, for the past 26 years has been leading all of us on this journey is Helen Zukerman, our Founder and Artistic Director. This past December, Helen was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal. This honour, under the auspices of the Governor General of Canada, recognizes individuals who have made remarkable contributions, who inspire others and who share a common goal of making a positive difference. We all congratulate Helen, and thank her and the intrepid staff at 19 Madison for making it all happen.

Please enjoy poring over these pages and making your choices as we get ready for this year’s Toronto Jewish Film Festival.