The Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival is continuing its mission of sharing the breadth of Jewish content from across the globe by screening films at three Harkins Theatres, through Sunday, February 24.
GPJFF executive director Barry Singer said he hopes people gain “an appreciation of the worldwide presentation of the Jewish culture.”
One of these films is Golda’s Balcony: The Film, which will have its second public screening at the festival, according to producer David Fishelson.
Originally a Broadway hit, Golda’s Balcony comes to the GPJFF on Sunday February 24 after 15 years of being “locked in a vault,” Fishelson says.
The piece is about the life of Golda Meir, Israel’s first female prime minister. Fishelson called it a powerful story about politics and feminism that covers Meir’s struggle in an artistic way.
Fishelson said the film gives a fair, balanced view surrounding the controversies to the birth of Israel as well as a voice to the Jewish people. “I want the audience to understand the perspective. It deserves to shine.”
Controversies, Fishelson specifies, include the Zionists creating a new vision for many Jewish people in Europe during the early 1900s, The 1948 Arab War and the many divisions of Palestine and Israel, as well as the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
The collaboration came about when Fishelson contacted Singer fairly late in the selection process, however, “we felt this was an opportunity to show an important performance by the original Broadway production star.”
Golda’s Balcony, The Film is one film out of the 20 being screened within the festival that Singer and his coworkers select. A few others include Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy, Budapest Noir and Shine.
Choosing the films is a year-long process. The festival is held in February, and immediately the process
begins again, Singer says. By March, the festival is looking for new films to feature and planning next year’s event. Linda Mittelman and Lois Rubin, the creative directors, prescreen from 100 to 200 films. The festival screening committee receives the films from distributors across the country.
Before the team can screen the films, it must receive permission from the distributors because it’s not free to screen films for public performances. Distributors handle all of the arrangements.
Then, the screening committee watches one film a week and are usually done by mid-September, Singer said.
The process is very democratic, with the committee voting on the final films and the highest-voted films are featured.
After the screening and selection process is complete, Singer said advertising and program planning is the next step for the festival.
The event, which attracts 10,000 guests a year, brings awareness to films that normally wouldn’t play here, Singer said. Guests then gain an appreciation for the film festival and its features.
The movie trailers are available on the film festival’s website for those who may be interested in attending. They can then check the schedule and see when films are playing.
Fishelson said he is grateful to be a part of this festival and sharing Golda’s Balcony: The Film and its message.
“When you tell the story of the people, it blows your mind,” he said.
The Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival
Various times through Sunday, February 24
Harkins Tempe Marketplace, 2000
E. Rio Salado Parkway, Suite 1160, Tempe
Harkins Shea 14, 7354 E. Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale
Harkins Park West, 9804 W. Northern Avenue, Peoria