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NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival

The 14th NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival is being held February 4-11, 2010 at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street in New York City. Since its founding in February 1990 as a biennial event, the NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival has become the only annual Film Festival dedicated to showcasing Sephardic history, tradition and culture through film.

On Opening Night, in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Festival, its founders, Dr. Janice Ovadiah, Mr. Morrie Yohai and Israeli filmmaker Haim Shiran will be honored and the ASF Pomegranate Award will be presented.

The ceremony will be followed by the NY premiere of Coco and a post-screening reception. In this comic drama written, directed and starring Gad Elmaleh, Coco is a flamboyant self-made man who becomes a royal pain when planning the biggest show to date - the bar mitzvah of his son Samuel.

The films include:

The U.S. Premiere of Honor, starring Zeev Revah, Raymond Abecasis, Albert Iluz and many more of the leading stars of Israeli cinema. Honor portrays two Moroccan organized crime families that suffer the tragedies of their respective lives. Director Haim Bouzaglo will be on hand for post-screening discussion.

The 20th Anniversary screening of Pillar of Salt, based on the autobiographical novel by sociologist Albert Memmi. This drama captures the cultural richness and social complexity of a 13-year-old Jewish boy's life in Tunisia as he deals with the conflicting pressures from surrounding French and Arab societies.  Post-screening discussion with the director, Haim Shiran, recipient of the ASF Pomegranate Award. 

Salvador: the Ship of Shattered Hopes, directed by Nissim Mossek, has its NY Premiere. On the night of December 3, 1940, at the Black Seaport of Varna, Bulgaria, the Salvador - a rickety, old, sail-powered coal freighter - is finally towed out to sea and 352 Bulgarian Jews begin their voyage to Palestine. Ten hellish days later, the vessel is shattered to pieces on the shore, not far from Istanbul. Most of its passengers are lost at sea. While some of the survivors return to Bulgaria, most struggle on towards their original destination against all odds. Post-screening discussion with Dr. Ronnie Perelis, Alcalay Assistant Professor of Sephardic Studies, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University.

The two-part drama Revivre (Rebirth), about a journey of Jewish families from Poland, France, Morocco and Algeria making Aliya to pre-state Israel in 1946/1947. Part 1 deals with the major obstacles they endure trying to fulfill their dream and rebuild their lives in a Jewish state. Part 2 continues the journey as some of the families arrive in pre-state Israel, while others are held at a work-camp in Cyprus. In their new place, tensions grow between Arabs and Jews, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, and between secular and religious.
Post-screening discussion after both Parts with director Haim Bouzaglo.

Among the documentaries:

Mashala, a NY Premiere directed by Cyrus Sundar Singh, follows Canadian singer Ellen Gould Ventura on a journey of spiritual and musical discovery through Sephardic song as she joins with a group of gifted musicians from Chile, Morocco, Italy and Venezuela.  

In Azi Ayima (Come Mother), director Sami Shalom Chetrit takes a journey with his mother in search of classmates from her elementary school, the Alliance, which she attended 60 years ago in a little village in Morocco.  Through their stories of past and present, Morocco is reconstructed and comes to life, told for the first time by Moroccan women of the first generation to immigrate to Israel. Post-screening discussion with the director.

For further information, visit

NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival
February 4-11, 2010

Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
New York City

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