The word “Greater” in Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival isn’t there for nothing. The event, which runs Feb. 10 through 24, is spread out all over the greater Phoenix area—although, ironically, not in Phoenix proper.
Shows are slated at Harkins Camelview 5 in Scottsdale; in the wilds of the West Valley at Harkins Arrowhead 18 in Peoria; and, for movie-lovers in the Kyrene Corridor, at Harkins Crossroads 12 in Chandler.
The 17th annual event features movies from the U.S. and Canada, Germany, Austria, Poland and Israel, in genres ranging from comedy to drama to documentary. Many of the screenings are accompanied by guest speakers from a range of backgrounds.
At Harkins Crossroads, the fest kicks off at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10 with the sardonic comedy-thriller My Best Enemy, from Austria. It concerns a swap of identities between a Jew and a Nazi, former best friends, during World War II.
A switcheroo is also the basis of the drama The Other Son. This time it’s the well-worn device of babies accidently switched at birth—in this case one Palestinian and one Jewish, and of the impact on both families when the truth comes out. It plays at Crossroads at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11.
Documentaries are well represented at this year’s festival, as well, two of them concerned with songs.
AKA Doc Pomus, a documentary portrait of the songwriting great (aka Jerome Felder) who gave us This Magic Moment and Save the Last Dance For Me, plays at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17. The speaker for the Crossroads 12 showing is Rabbi Darren Kleinberg, executive director of Valley Beit Midrash, who, according to the Festival’s website, “plays lead guitar in the band Twice Baked in his free time.”
Ever wonder about the origin of “Hava Nagila?” You can learn all about the song’s history and the evolution of its religious, political and cultural meanings in Hava Nagila (The Movie), which plays at Crossroads 12 at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24.
Also slated for Crossroads 12 are the dramas Kaddish for a Friend and Mabul (The Flood), as well as the comedy The Day I Saw Your Heart.
Another romantic comedy, Dorfman, starring Sara Rue and Elliot Gould, screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, in honor of Valentine’s Day, but only at Harkins Camelview in Scottsdale. Screenwriter Wendy Kout will be guest speaker at this screening.
The festival’s most unusual selection, however, might be Melting Away, from director Doron Eran and screenwriter Billy Ben-Moshe. The story of the rift between parents and a transgendered child, it’s thought to be one of the first Israeli films to explore such a subject. It screens at Crossroads 12 at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21.