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Jewish Film Festival arrives in Atlanta
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Three-time Golden Globe-nominee and Emmy Award winner Brendan Gleeson and two-time Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson portray husband and wife Otto and Anna Quangel in “Alone in Berlin.” - photo by Courtesy of Atlanta Jewish Film Festival

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
When: Jan. 25 to Feb. 15
Where: Multiple venues across Atlanta
Cost: $10-$18
More info: AJFF.org

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival will present a record-breaking 202 screenings during its 23-day event at multiple views in Atlanta.

Screening for the 17th annual festival features 75 films from 24 countries from Tuesday, Jan. 24, through Wednesday, Feb. 15. The full lineup and schedule is at AJFF.org.

In keeping with AJFF’s mission to generate community dialogue through film, screenings include post-film question-and-answer A conversation with filmmakers, actors, academics and other experts. This creates a larger experience beyond a traditional movie outing.

“We are proud to continue a 17-year tradition of excellence by bringing audiences the most compelling, diverse, high-caliber films from around the globe,” AJFF Executive Director Kenny Blank said in a news release. “This cultural celebration of foreign and independent film will inspire, entertain, challenge and provoke. These are films that touch the heart and expand the mind, and speak to moviegoers of all backgrounds.”

 This premier brings new works, on Jewish and Israeli themes, to multiple theater venues across Atlanta. The festival will anchor itself in the Lefont Sandy Springs theater. In addition, AJFF has added Regal’s Perimeter Pointe theater to the mix. AJFF has also expanded its run at Woodruff Arts Center with five days at the Rich Auditorium.

Opening night will begin at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Georgia Theatre Company’s Merchants Walk location, Regal’s Tara Cinemas and Atlantic Station theaters all return in 2017, serving audiences outside and inside the perimeter.

Wrapping up the 2017 events, AJFF will host closing night in Atlanta Symphony Hall.

The opening night film is “Alone in Berlin,” which is based on a true story of grieving parents (Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson) driven by the loss of their son to resist the Nazi regime.

Other features include the story of survival and rescue “Across the Waters,” the coming-of-age drama “The Children of Chance,” the cautionary tale of nationalism and demagoguery “Forever Pure,” and short film “Schube Strong,” featuring a resilient Atlanta family and its courageous battle with cancer, and the generational effects of a genetic gene mutation.

 A number of films tackle issues of topical concern. “The Freedom to Marry” documents the fight for gay marriage, while “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You” explores race relations. Several films dive into political-religious extremism, from “The Settlers” to “Keep Quiet” to “Mother with a Gun.”

Comedies stand out in the 2017 lineup including: the romances, “Moos,” “The Pickle Recipe” and Family Commitments, which will leave audiences in stitches. And the star-studded “The Last Laugh” will make you smile and think, as it asks if there is humor to be found in history’s darkest hour.

Sports fans have much to celebrate, with “The 90 Minute War,” “On the Map” and the NAACP Image Award nominated “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice.” The last one has an Atlanta connection through the filmmaker as well as a number of the interviewees in the film including former Mayor Bill Campbell, Ambassador Andrew Young, Olympic medalist Terrence Trammel.

Arts lovers can rejoice with a multitude of choices like, “BANG! The Bert Berns Story,” a biopic of a musically gifted and influential songwriter and producer of the 1960s; and “Mr. Gaga,” which profiles leading Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s life and works.

The festival closes with “The Women’s Balcony,” a movie that sees a divided Orthodox community reunited by a rebellious spirit.

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