16th NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival Brings Award-Winning International Slate to One-of-a-Kind Cultural Event
New York, NY, February 13, 2012 — Free Men, a film by the “best director from the Arab World” (Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2011), is one of a trio of films about Muslim-Jewish connection that will be shown at the 16th New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival, March 15-22, at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York.
The only annual festival of its kind, the New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival has become one of the largest Sephardic Jewish film festivals in North America, attracting over 30,000 guests in its 15-year history to a major cultural event that calls New York City its home.
Set in 1942 Paris, Free Men, directed by Ismael Ferroukhi, uses true events as the inspiration of the story of a group of Muslim agents who fought for the French Resistance using the Mosque of Paris as their base of operations. Muslim students of the Mimouna Club of Al-Akhawayn University in Morrocco explore the Holocaust, a taboo subject in the contemporary Arab world, in Ifrane 2011: The First Holocaust Conference in the Arab World. And finally, Moroccan-born Kamal Hachklar, who grew up in France believing all Berbers were Muslim, sets out to restore long-hidden Jewish roots in Tinghir-Jerusalem: Echoes from the Mellah.
Also of note is The Last Jews of Libya, which looks at Libya and the region through a contemporary lens, with all that implies.
The slate of films include three U.S. and three New York premieres, as well as post-screening discussions with filmmakers, directors, screenwriters, and scholars. The festival is committed to exhibiting a select international slate of feature films and documentaries specifically chosen for their thought-provoking examination of the past and exploration of contemporary Sephardic issues and identity.
Acclaimed filmmaker Izza Genini and Grammy-nominated musician and peace activist Yair Dalal will be recognized with the American Sephardi Federation’s Pomegranate Lifetime Achievement Award. Genini, the founder of SOGEAV, produced and directed the award-winning 11-part documentary Maroc, Corp et Ame (Morocco, Body and Soul) between 1987 and 1992. A composer, violinist, oud player, and singer, Dalal has recorded 11 albums that reflect his extensive musical skills in both classical and Arab music.
The festival is presented by the American Sephardic Federation in collaboration with Yeshiva University Museum. A full listing of films, updates, and ticket information is available at www.sephardicfilmfest.org. All screenings will take place at the Center for Jewish History (except where noted). Group sales discounts are available (excluding the Opening and Closing night receptions).
Information about the American Sephardi Federation is available by visiting www.sephardifederation.org.
The Jewish film festival is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Special thanks goes to the Brenner Family Foundation, the Kumble Cultural Fund, and the Selz Family Cultural Fund for their generous contributions in support of the program.
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