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28th Toronto Jewish Film Festival TJFF2020 Part two: October 22 - November 1


Written text below

Allison Weiss Martin

Helen Zukerman
Artistic Director

Stuart Hands
Programme Director

Allison’s Welcome

On behalf of the Board of Directors, welcome to the 28th annual Toronto Jewish Film Festival – Part 1 -TJFF 20/20 Online!

I am writing this message just a few days after Passover, which many of you celebrated with your families through “Zoom Seders”.  When I originally began writing this several weeks ago, it was to meet the printing deadline for inclusion in the program book – and the world was a very different place.  At the time, planning was well underway for what promised to be once again a remarkable Festival to be held in the ordinary course.

The new reality of our current situation and the technology we have been able to harness means that TJFF is coming to you now in an unexpected, unimagined and unique way.  

In this my first, year as Board Chair, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the TJFF team.  I am constantly amazed by the talent, drive and dedication of this small but mighty group of individuals.

I think back to the meeting we had the day after the World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration when we were faced with the difficult decision of whether to cancel the in-theatre festival.  Everyone agreed that the programming lineup for this year was exceptional; no one wanted an outright cancellation, and so the idea of an online festival was conceived; within a matter of days – TJFF 2020 Online went from being an idea to an actual plan that is now a reality.

Please join me in enjoying over 30 films encourage you to follow us on facebookInstagram, and  twitter and share with your family and friends.  The Festival is more accessible now than ever before!!

And after the on-line festival has concluded I hope you will continue to enjoy the many offerings on J-Flix.

I wish you and your loved ones continued health and safety.  See you “virtually” at the movies!!

Helen’s Welcome

I thought that this year’s message would be a piece of cake and would write itself. We had curated our plans for the 28th Toronto Jewish Film Festival from over 900 submitted films and it was looking as though we had one of the strongest lineups ever. J-Flix (, our free online streaming platform was getting a lot of traffic and we were getting many accolades for it.

FilmMatters, our student outreach initiative, was slated to have 4 film study programmes this year for teachers to bring  their middle school and secondary school students to the Festival. We had begun the process of establishing an Endowment Fund and were almost halfway there.

Then­ as they say-all hell broke loose in the form of COVID-19.

The Festival could no longer happen in theatres. People could not gather and worst of all, we didn’t know how long this would last.

What to do, what to do?

In an attempt to be innovative and creative, the thought of offering an online festival was considered. Immediately our small but determined staff went to work and through sheer tenacity and little sleep, the TJFF2020 Online Festival was born. Everybody we spoke to was excited about the idea and with countless online meetings we knew we were on to something.

It has been quite an adventure for us all and we are excited about having you come along on this journey.

Thank you for your support and good wishes. I know I speak for all of us that we wish you to be safe and all being well, we can meet in October at our in-theatre Festival.

Stuart’s Welcome

Hello. My Name is Stuart Hands. I am the programme director of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. Welcome to our 2020 Edition. We will be delivering this year’s terrific line-up in two parts: The online festival which will take place May 30 to June 7, and then an in-theatre festival in October. Despite these difficult circumstances, we have still been able to provide you with an eclectic line-up that we hope will entertain, educate and challenge.
A few highlights for me:
This year we are honouring a very influential Israeli filmmaker, Ram Loevy. He has made many films over the past fifty years, with a keen eye on the divisions within Israeli society. This year, we are premiering his complex dramatic film called Dead of Jaffa. This is a very ambitious and complex narrative. Its story has various layers and parallel storylines that weave together seamlessly, resulting in a very powerful and provocative experience.
The film will play alongside his 1966 short film, My Name is Achmad, the first time that an Israeli film focused on the struggles of an Arab Israeli. It is also a wonderful document from pre-1967 Tel Aviv. So I encourage you to join us for this programme dedicated to one of the fathers of modern Israeli cinema.
In addition, we are also honouring one of the mothers of modern Israeli cinema, Ellida Geyra. Her 1969 film, Before Tomorrow was the very first Israeli film directed by a woman. It consists of two stories about unlikely romance, and the film still packs a lot of charm and youthful energy. It was long forgotten by historians of Israeli cinema, and was only rediscovered in 2013. We are thrilled to provide Toronto audiences with the chance of discovering this film. 
On a very different note, I am really excited that we will be showing work by two of my favourite comedy writers. We will be honouring the brilliant TV writer, the Toronto-born, Earl Pomerantz. Sadly, he passed away in March. We are going to play the pilot for his short-lived comedy series, Best of the West, a western spoof, which he created in 1981.  Also, we have a terrific short film called Still Happy, written by the great Alan Zweibel.
This is all but a fraction of TJFF’s line-up. As always, we hope this year has something for everyone.