6 Amazing Jewish Movies at DOC NYC, America’s Largest Documentary Festival

In the new documentary “Charm Circle, ” Director Nira Burstein revisits her childhood home on Charm Circle in the Kew Garden Hills neighborhood of Queens, New York, where her father Uri and mother Raya (referred to throughout as Ima and Aba) they still live, along with Burstein’s older sister, Judy.

The junction between interviews with his parents and shaky shots of them in their ramshackle house are old family home videos that reveal seeds that grew into decades of family conflict. Each shot reveals another layer of family dynamics. No member is afraid to put their heart on screen and show their grievances and their love, except perhaps Nira herself, who remains behind the camera for all but a few intimate scenes.

There is an unspoken agreement, between father and daughter, between sister and sister, between husband and wife, that Burstein is trying to repair irreparable damage, which will test once and for all the strength of the ties that hold a family together. .

“I just want to tell you, Nira, that I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you and made you an adult when you were still a child,” Raya says at one point. After a long pause, Nira whispers “Okay” from behind the camera.

“Charm Circle” is a heartbreaking, stark, and ultimately loving exploration of family, relationships, and strength, about the choices we make and the choices we don’t make, and the impact they have. It is also one of at least six films of special Jewish interest at DOC NYC, which bills itself as the largest documentary festival in the United States.

People gather at Sheep Meadow in Central Park during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Manhattan, New York, USA, May 15, 2020 (Credit: ANDREW KELLY / REUTERS)

The festival will screen more than 120 documentary feature films in person from November 10-18 at three theaters in Manhattan: the IFC Center, SVA Theater and Cinépolis Chelsea, and will continue online until November 28. (Information on schedules and tickets: www.docnyc.net)

Jewish week Readers may want to keep an eye out for these films, three of which take a critical look at Israel:

“Boycott” (Directed by Julia Bacha): Bacha analyzes the consequences of a law in Texas that prohibited state entities from dealing with companies that boycott Israel or its settlements. Although hailed by pro-Israel activists, the law raised free speech issues, which the film explores through the stories of an editor, lawyer, and teacher who say they were unfairly asked to choose between their political beliefs and their jobs. . Bacha, whose previous films explore Palestinian and Israeli activists opposing the Israeli occupation, is not a fan of anti-boycott legislation.

“The Devil’s Drivers” (Dir. By Mohammed Abugeth): Filmed over eight years, the documentary follows drivers who smuggle Palestinian workers by car to their workplaces in Israel. The film documents life in Palestinian-controlled territories and the tense interaction between the military, Palestinian workers, and Israeli employers who depend on the underground workers’ pipeline.

“The forgotten ones” (Directed by Michale Boganim): Franco-Israeli director Michale Boganim recalls the discrimination Jews from Arab countries and North Africa faced when they arrived in Israel in the 1950s and 1960s. Boganim tells the story of his own father, who emigrated from Morocco and was part of Israel’s Black Panther movement, which advocated for Mizrachi’s rights in the 1970s.

“Three minutes: a lengthening” (Dir. De Bianca Stigter): Three haunting minutes of rare color images depicting the Jewish inhabitants of Nasielsk, Poland, are the basis for this examination of what was lost in the Holocaust. Stigter examines each frame of the home movie, which writer Glenn Kurtz found in his parents’ Florida home and used as the basis for his own detective work on victims and survivors.

“A tree of life” (Trish Adlesic): Adlesic had intimate access to the survivors and families of the victims of the 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. His film, co-produced by Michael Keaton and Mark Cuban, asks how such hatred could have found a home in America and how the community has tried to recover from the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history.


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