'Max Raabe in Israel' at Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Potsdam
Enlarge image Max Raabe at the Israeli Embassy in Berlin (2011). (© picture alliance/Eventpress) The 18th annual Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Potsdam kicked off on June 4 with a gala opening and the world premiere of the documentary "Max Raabe in Israel."
Held in the German capital of Berlin and the neighboring Brandenburg state capital of Potsdam, this year's festival runs through June 17 and includes an eclectic lineup of some 30 internationally produced documentaries, animated and feature-length films.
Max Raabe in Israel
The 90-minute documentary about Max Raabe's Israeli tour, released this year, was directed by Brigitte Bertele, Julia Willmann, Sabine Scharnagl and Bettina Hausler. A German production, it was screened in German with English subtitles at the Hans Otto Theater in Potsdam.
- "With his trademark tuxedo and tails, the celebrated German singer Max Raabe took his 'Tonight or Never' tour to Israel with some trepidation. He knew his repertoire would strike a chord with the audience, but which one? Israel's diversity is mirrored in the range of reactions to Raabe’s songs, written by Jewish composers who were either forced to flee the Nazi regime or did not survive it. While many young listeners encountered German music of the Weimar Republic for the first time, people over 80 years of age wept and rejoiced as they remembered songs from their youth." - Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Potsdam
Music men and a Wagner redux
Other documentaries centered around music at the festival include "Music Man Murray" (2012, USA, 22 minutes), about an 89-year-old record-store owner named Murry Gerschenz in Los Angeles, and "Jascha Heifetz: God's Fiddler" (USA/Germany/Russia 2011, 88 minutes), the only film biography about a violin virtuoso and child prodigy who dazzled audiences in Vilnius (or Vilna, when it was under Russian control).
The festival also features the Berlin premiere of "Wagner and Me", which opens in German cinemas on June 21.
- "Can you be Jewish and love Wagner? That’s the question explored by one of Britain's most popular performers, Stephen Fry, who attempts to separate the composer's tainted legacy of association with Hitler's anti-Semitism from the music that continues to draw large audiences today. In this inquisitive documentary, Fry’s admiration for Wagner, eclipsed by the murder of his relatives in the Holocaust, takes him to Germany, Switzerland and Russia to seek deeper truths about the man whose enduring popularity is celebrated beyond opera venues such as Bayreuth." - Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Potsdam
Delving into the curious contents of a Tel Aviv apartment
Another documentary - among many more films from all over the world - that looks interesting at this year's festival is "Die Wohnung (The Flat)" (Israel/Germany, 2011, 97 minutes), which will be screened at three venues in Potsdam, including the city's Film Museum.
- "When filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger's grandmother died at the age of 98, his family gathered in Tel Aviv to empty the flat where she'd lived for 70 years after fleeing Nazi Germany with her husband. 'They kept everything,' says Goldfinger about his grandparents, referring to decades' worth of documents and other keepsakes. While Arnon's mother would rather distance herself from the past and dispose of as many of her parents' belongings as possible, Arnon unearths something that stops everyone in their tracks: an improbable friendship between his grandfather, a judge and Zionist from Berlin, and a high-ranking member of the SS. The dusty piles of boxes and papers take on staggering dimensions as the family confronts this hidden chapter of history." - Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Potsdam
Israeli artists drawn to Berlin
According to an article published by Haaretz in September 2011, between 8,000 and 15,000 Israelis are estimated to live in Berlin, which attracts artists, writers and performers from all over the world with its relaxed atmosphere, relative affordability, and eclectic creative scene.
About the Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Potsdam
Founded in 1995 on the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Berlin/Potsdam Jewish Film Festival is one of the oldest of its kind in Europe. This unique cultural event in Germany, aimed at film lovers of any background, is a showcase for new cinema that explores Jewish life in Germany and around the world. The Festival's strength is its offering of perspectives rarely seen in the daily stream of headlines and broadcast news. The film screenings provide a lively forum for dialogue and debate about a wide range of issues, drawing larger audiences every year.
The Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Potsdam is staged and supported by an independent, registered association, the Welser 25 e.V. Freundeskreis des jüdischen und israelischen Films.