As ubiquitous as the bagel, the traditional Jewish folk song "Hava Nagila" is a piece of music that seamlessly crosses cultures. But where did it come from? Hava Nagila, the movie, will provide the answers when the documentary opens the 17th Annual Denver Jewish Film Festival this Wednesday, February 6 at the newly renovated Elaine Wolfe Theatre.
In advance of the 26 hand-selected screenings that run through February 17, Festival Director Roberta Bloom gave Westword some insight into a handful of the great films showing during the eleven-day run.
See also: - Denver Jewish Film Festival Director Roberta Bloom on what makes a good fest flick - Month of Photography continues with a black-and-white look at the Jewish side of LIFE - A toast to French and Jewish cuisine, beer dinners and more on the culinary calendar - 2012 MACC Jewish Film Festival opens today
Wednesday, February 6, 5:30 p.m.
The World Is FunnyScreening:
"Who knew that Glen Campell did a version? Or Connie Francis? I like the way that the film also addresses the 'Hava Haters' -- the people who wouldn't want it played at their wedding, because they just feel like it's been overdone. The film addresses everything and there's a wonderful tenor to the film."
Friday, February 10, 7:30 p.m.
"It's kind of a complex storyline that isn't always chronological; It takes you through many different people's lives."
Sunday, February 17, 8:15 p.m.
Portait of Wally Screening:
"It's a film about a transgendered young man in Israel. An interesting story behind the making of the film [is that] it is really about tolerance and different families and how different families choose to deal with discovering that their child is gay. During the course of the film, you see two very different perspectives. It is a really moving story."
Sunday, February 17, 12:55 p.m.
A.K.A. Doc PomusScreening:
"One of my favorites this year. It deals with the issue of provenance of artwork that the Nazis stole during the Holocaust, and how museum provenance, the ownership of these pieces has, in some cases, been doctored."
The film talks about "how important it is to get these works restored to their rightful owners. The particular case they deal with -- a portrait by Egon Schiele -- became a landmark case. It was just resolved maybe ten or eleven years ago. It really has impacted how works with questionable provenance are dealt with, even as new artworks are discovered. The photography is beautiful, the artwork is beautiful. The story unfolds as if it's a mystery."
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Saturday, February 16, 8:50 p.m. The closing film of the festival, this documentary looks at the life and career of Jerome Felder, aka Doc Pomus. Unknown by name to many, he penned some of Motown's most memorable songs -- like "This Magic Moment" and "Save the Last Dance for Me" (and even Elvis's notoriously flamboyant hit "Viva Las Vegas.")