Celebrating Jewish Life in Flint & Worldwide

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Film festivals have come and gone in Flint, but the longest continuous cinema fest in Genesee County is going strong – even during the pandemic.

The 17th Karen Schneider Jewish Film Festival is taking place May 2-23, albeit with some pandemic-related changes. The annual collaboration of the Flint Jewish Federation and the Flint Institute of Arts has been expanded to three weeks of streamed screenings instead of the usual one-week, in-person, pre-COVID format.

Although there will be no patrons inside the FIA Theater this year, nine films concerning Jewish life and culture will be shown virtually through the FIA website at jff.eventive.org. They are entertaining and enlightening viewing for all audiences.

Five of the nine films in the festival will be available for the full three weeks, with the others to be shown in one-week windows.

The event will include three documentaries. In “A Crime on the Bayou” (May 2-23), an African American teenager, aided by a white Jewish attorney, challenges Louisiana’s most powerful white supremacist as systemic racism and anti-Semitism meet their match in 1960s legal battles. “From Cairo to the Cloud” (May 2-23) chronicles the recent discovery of a long-hidden cache of Jewish historical manuscripts, and “Hollywood’s II. World War” (May 2-23) is the story of four Hollywood directors (Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, William Wyler, Anatole Litvak) who risked their lives to make documentaries for the U.S. military.

Three scripted entries are also set during World War II. “The Crossing” (May 9-15) follows the flight of children to safety from Nazi-occupied Norway. “The Keeper” (May 16-22) is inspired by the true story of a German POW who seeks acceptance in England through his soccer-playing skill. “Six Minutes to Midnight” (May 16-22) stars Judi Dench and Eddie Izzard in a drama about deadly events in an English finishing school inhabited by daughters of German families.

The festival’s other three movies are in 21st-century locales. In “Here We Are” (May 2-8), an Israeli father devotedly raises an autistic son. The comedy “Forgiveness” (May 2-23) concerns two friends in Israel whose lives take unexpected paths, and “Shalom Taiwan” (May 2-23), another comedy, is about a rabbi in Argentina who goes to Taiwan to raise money for his struggling community center.

Individual admission to each film is $5, available through the Festival website.

Meanwhile, this month’s flagship Friends of Modern Art schedule at the FIA continues virtually with a pair of musical documentaries. “Zappa,” showing May 7-9, profiles the maverick rocker, Frank Zappa. Screening May 14-16 will be “Breed and Bootleg: Legends of Flint Rap Music,” which salutes the legacy of the late Eric “MC” Breed and other local hip-hip notables such as Ira Dorsey and the Dayton Family.

Because of the pandemic, FIA screenings will remain virtual until further notice. Information and updates can be found by visiting flintarts.org.

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