Storytelling has always been a basic building block of cinema and world culture. For Jews especially, stories about our history and ancestry, our families, customs and contributions to the world, have long affirmed our identity and values as a people.
For me, this year’s standout films are those that tell great stories about the achievements and experiences of Jews from across the globe and from all walks of life.
Lauren Bacall: a Look From the Sky, Curtiz, and Sam Spiegel: Conquering Hollywood shed new light on three Hollywood legends, whose Jewish roots greatly impacted their personal and professional lives.
The Spy Behind Home Plate is the first feature-length documentary about Moe Berg, who, in the 1930s and 40s, was a professional baseball player, lawyer and American spy.
Black Honey: The Life and Poetry of Avraham Sutzkever is the first film about this acclaimed Yiddish poet and resistance hero who fought in the ghetto and forests of Vilna, rescuing Jewish treasures targeted for destruction.
In Forgotten Soldier, the children of Sally Noach, a Jewish carpet salesman from Amsterdam, piece together, with the help of survivors, the incredible and controversial story about their father’s audacious rescue of Dutch Jews trapped in Vichy France.
And finally, Mamboniks, one of my personal favourites, tells the delightful story of a group of young New York Jews in the 1950s, whose obsession with the Mambo sparked a national and cultural sensation.