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Neil Diamond Film to Headline Jewish Film Festival
Sunday, July 3, 2022


The story of a shy Jewish boy from Brooklyn who went on through a lifelong question to discover himself through his music will be told this coming week when the 10th annual Jewish Film Festival presents “Neil Diamond: Solitary Man.”

A free screening will be shown at 6 p.m. Monday, July 11, at the Sun Valley Community School Theatre.

“We wanted a way to celebrate our tenth anniversary and the committee decided this film was perfect, as it was one of the most popular films we’ve screened. We showed it six years ago and it got an overflow crowd,” said Linda Cooper, who founded the festival. “Neil Diamond was such a dynamite performer—unfortunately, he’s not performing any more due to Parkinson’s. But we will have a surprise at the end of the film.”

  • The Jewish Film Festival kicks off on Wednesday, July 6, with a free screening of “Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen.” The film by Academy Award-nominated director Daniel Raim was narrated by Jeff Goldblum. The movie was once called “the most powerful movie musical ever made.”

    It gives the inside scoop on Norman Jewison’s quest to recreate the lost world of Jewish life in Tsarist Russia in his 1971 feature film version of the stage musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”

    The film includes behind-the-scenes footage and never-before-seen stills, as well as interviews with Jewison and the actors who recreated the story about the dairyman Tevye who tries to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions as his older daughters strive to marry for love.

    “ ’Fiddler’s Journey’ is a great film,” said Cooper. “It’s a feel-good film. It makes you laugh, makes you cry. It’s very colorful and is full of interesting things, such as where they decided to film different scenes and how they filmed the dancing. It’s full of insight on what it takes to make a great film.”

  • The third film in the film series is “Persian Lessons.” It’s a 2020 Russian-Belarusian war drama that was the Belarusian entry for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards. The nomination was denied because not enough Belarusians were involved in making the film.

The film, set in a World War II German concentration camp, revolves around a Jewish man who lies to the commandant that he has a mother from Belgium and a father from Iran.

The commandant asks to be taught Persian and the man obliges in order to save his life, even though he can’t speak a word of Persian. The commandant wishes to learn four words per day with the idea that he’ll learn 2,000 words by the time the war ends. And the prisoner responds by making up words, even as he figures out a way to record the names of prisoners who are dying enroute to the camp.

The doors open at 5 for each film.

Cooper started the film festival to show some of the best of Jewish cinema with the idea of educating and entertaining people about the Jewish experience. A committee of 10 to 12 people watch dozens of films before selecting the ones shown in the festival.

“It’s been such a great success for the community,” Cooper said. “And we’re very happy that COVID is over and we can get back to business as usual.”


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