Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Dr. Ruth Makes the Cut at Sun Valley Jewish Film Festival
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Dr. Ruth Westheimer even made late night talk show hosts squirm with her open and frank use of terms describing genitalia.
 
Saturday, July 6, 2019
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

In the early 1940s a Jewish teenager named Karola Siegel wrote of her first surge of puberty: “Everything in nature is so fantastically well-organized. One can’t possibly think that anything about it is dirty.”

The diary entry foreshadowed the trajectory of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who ended up at the forefront of America’s sexual revolution as America’s most famous sex therapist.

But, before that was to happen, she would find herself a “Holocaust orphan,” sent from her home in Germany to the safety of Switzerland two months after Kristallnacht.

Dr. Ruth’s journey is told in Ryan White’s film “Ask. Dr. Ruth.” And it will be one of three films shown during the 2019 Sun Valley Jewish Film Festival presented by the Wood River Jewish Community.

The festival kicks off with “Ask Dr. Ruth” on Monday, July 8, and runs through Monday, July 15, ending with “Shoelaces” on Monday, July 15.

“The documentary about Dr. Ruth contains information most of us didn’t even know,” said Linda Cooper, who founded the festival. “Then we have one based on the life of French novelist that depicts his relationship with his mother who always told him he would be great. And the third shows the relationship of a father with his adult son who has mental challenges.”

Each showing begins at 6 p.m. at the Sun Valley Community School theater. Admission is free, although donations are welcome.

  • “Ask Dr. Ruth,” on Monday, July 8, chronicles the life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America’s most famous sex therapist.

    As she approaches her 90th birthday, showing no signs of slowing down, she revisits her painful past and unlikely path to her famous career at the forefront of the sexual revolution.

    The film received a 100 percent audience rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

  • “Promise at Dawn,” on Wednesday, July 10, is based on the autobiographical novel by Romain Gary. The drama tells the romantic story of the famous French novelist from his childhood in Poland to his adolescence in France.

    The movie follows Gary as he overcomes an impoverished childhood to pilot airplanes for the French Air Force in Africa and Europe to becoming one of France’s most prolific writers, authoring more than 30 novels, essays and memoirs.

    He won the Prix Goncourt prize for French language literature twice

    His novels include “The Colors of the Day,” filmed as “The Man Who Understood Women;” “The Roots of Heaven” and “Lady L.” He wrote the screenplay for the motion picture “The Longest Day” and co-wrote and directed the film “Kill!”

    And he once challenged Clint Eastwood to a duel after learning the latter had had an affair with Gary’s  wife Jean Seberg. But Eastwood declined.

  • “Shoelaces, on Monday, July 15, is the heartwarming story of a gruff father and his relationship with his son. The award-winning film, set in Israel, follows an aging man named Ruven who is asked to take in his special-needs son, now in his 30s, after his ex-wife dies.

Ruven soon learns that his son has a precise routine involving the food he eats and the foot massages he demands at bedtime. And his son has to overcome the shock of the death of a mother whom he fully depended on to learn how to deal with a man who is nearly a stranger.

Cooper watches dozens of films before picking her favorites and sending them to committee members who vote on which to include in the festival. The committee members have no idea how other committee members have voted.

“There are countless great films out there and, unfortunately, we can only show three during each festival,” said Cooper. “But the ones we show are the greatest of the great.”

 

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