Jewish films coming soon to a screening near you

The New York Jewish Film Festival closed this week after showcasing 37 films from around the world. Here are a few films to look out for as they travel to other American cities in the coming months.

Directed by Elie Wajeman (France)

Set in the grungy streets of Paris, “Aliyah” offers a glimpse into the raw and dark life of Alex, a 27-year-old Jewish drug dealer from a broken home who must constantly pay off the debts of his abusive older brother, Isaac.

Presented with the opportunity to move to Israel with his cousin and open a restaurant in Tel Aviv, a withdrawn and endearingly wounded Alex faces the challenge of breaking free from his destructive brother and sorting out his complicated love life.

Dreaming of a better life in a land he’s never known, Alex looks to the streets for some fast cash but finds that love and betrayal are just the beginning of what obtruct his path to the Holy Land.

Alex’s attempts to escape the disorder of his Paris life are portrayed convincingly by French director Elie Wajeman. The film’s enticing storyline, spoken in French with English subtitles, was a favorite at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and the Philadelphia International Film Festival.

“Aliyah” is scheduled to screen at film festivals in Atlanta, Miami, Toronto, Cleveland and Chicago.

“The Fifth Heaven”
Directed by Dina Zvi-Riklis (Israel)

In a film Illustrating prestate Israel’s growing pains during World War II, Dina Zvi-Riklis beautifully portrays the tragic world of 13-year-old Maya, an orphan abandoned by her parents and left to fend for herself in a Tel Aviv orphanage.

As Maya faces frequent bullying in her attempts to adapt and fit in, she befriends the orphanage head, Dr. Markowski, an old friend who knows her parents and tries to get them to take Maya home.

The production team did extensive research to accurately portray Israel of the 1940s, and the film boasts beautiful cinematography that enhances its subplots such as the pressures of life under the British Mandate and the smuggling of weapons in the fight for independence. The film is based on a book by Rachel Eytan that Zvi-Riklis read as a teenager and decided the storyline was important to preserve.

“The adults and the kids are kind of orphans waiting for the end of the Second World War, which will deliver salvation, waiting that someone would save them from their loneliness but ironically comes a new war,” Zvi-Riklis wrote in an email. “What interested me is to tell the story from the perspective of women. Usually we see this period through the male heroic perspective. I wanted to confront the emotional side and femininity.”

“The Fifth Heaven” is scheduled to screen at festivals in Baltimore, Boca Raton, Fla., and Middletown, Conn.

“The Cutoff Man”
Directed by Idan Hubel (Israel)

Few films put a human face on society’s worst jobs quite like Idan Hubel’s “The Cutoff Man.” The film revolves around Gaby, a father of two living in northern Israel who faces unemployment. He is forced to make a living off the hardship of others, cutting off the water supply of those who don’t pay their bills.

Driven to put food on the table and fulfill his son's dream of becoming a professional soccer player, Gaby is subjected to sleepless nights, physical and verbal assault, humiliation and gut-wrenching sorrow. He struggles to maintain his dignity while following corporate instructions to punish the impoverished.

The film is dry and slow, unapologetically forcing the audience to stomach Gaby’s harrowing assignments, which earn him nothing but a few shekels for each water pipe he closes.

Hubel, whose father worked as a cutoff man for 14 years, has no problem leaving minute-long moments of silence to emphasize the agony of the situation. And Gaby, played by the celebrated Israeli actor Moshe Igvy, barely speaks in the film as he drags himself miles and miles to close a few more water pipes to pay his bills.

“The Ballad of Weeping Springtime”
Directed by Beni Torati (Israel)

Produced like an old American Western but spoken in Hebrew, “The Ballad of Weeping Springtime” is an adorable tale of a musician who fulfills the wish of his dying best friend to perform a song they wrote together many years earlier.

The protagonist, Yosef, once played lute with a legendary Mizrahi band, The Turquoise Ensemble, but retreated to northern Israel and opened a bar after being sent to prison for a fatal car accident. When Amram, the son of his former bandmate, comes with news that his father’s dying wish is to hear his arrangement of “The Weeping Springtime Symphony” performed, Yosef embarks on a peculiar journey to organize the perfect band.

Director Beni Torati adds absurd adventures as the plot thickens, with each eccentrically dressed musician added to the band enhancing the movie's comical mise-en-scene.

“The Ballad of Weeping Springtime” is scheduled to screen domestically at festivals in Atlanta, Michigan, Miami, Santa Barbara, Calif., and Austin, Texas, as well as internationally in Montreal, Toronto and Paris.

“All In”
Directed by Daniel Burman (Argentina)

An amusing romantic comedy from Argentinian director Daniel Burman, “All In” is the story of Uriel, a hotshot professional gambler who has lots of luck with cards and ladies but keeps a poker face with everyone else in his life, including his two children.

Newly divorced and eager to explore his reclaimed bachelorhood, Uriel decides on a whim to have a vasectomy. He then accidentally rekindles a relationship with an old flame. Facing middle age, Uriel, played by the Oscar-winning actor Jorge Drexler, must face down his web of lies and cut himself free of gambling.

The film has some quirks — Uriel confiding in his urologist like he’s a shrink; the reenactment of a vasectomy with a cookie; and the concert performance with a Chasidic rock band called the Rabbi-ing Stones. Still, Burman manages to extract from this mess the uplifting notion that true love is available to anyone, no matter how puerile.

“All In” is scheduled to screen at festivals in Pleasantville, N.Y., Hartford, Conn., Toronto and Houston.

Up close and personal with the TSA

Recent days have been full of continually unfolding reports about a new intercepted underwear bomb intended to be carried aboard a U.S.-bound plane by an al-Qaida agent. That agent, said to be British, turned out to be working simultaneously with Saudi and U.S. intelligence, and the bomb never got near a plane. But as I prepared last week to board a flight to Alaska, where I would be participating in a conference devoted to the ethical work of Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, I couldn’t help but wonder what role this newly acquired knowledge will play in upcoming discussions about airport security and the effectiveness of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Even though the TSA’s screening program played no part in thwarting this potential terrorist attack, the question of whether the existence of this bomb will help justify continuing the enormous sums of taxpayer money being poured into body-scanning technology has already begun to haunt me.

Over the past decade, something new has come to define the American ethos: fear. It isn’t as if fear had no part of our impulses until this moment, but the heightened fear that the world is a dangerous place has come to characterize the 21st century American mindset. It is a fear upon which we have allowed institutions to prey, so much that, since the events of 9/11, we have stopped asking many questions that still matter.

Jews are taught to question, and I have found that asking the right questions often leads to taking action. I have made a decision not to allow fear to lead my life, and I am committed to questioning any behavior that seems to have its basis in post-9/11 fear mongering. And that is how I came to find myself earlier this year in a face-off with a TSA agent at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In that moment, I became achingly aware of just how critical — and difficult — it can be not only to ask the right questions, but also to do so even when asking those questions causes inconvenience. Still, simply doing what one is told, for me, is more transgressive and more destructive than inconvenience.

I was traveling from Los Angeles to Boston. My companion and I had made a decision not to submit to the virtual strip-searches routinely conducted by body-scanner machines. We had two reasons: First, the images of nude bodies transmitted by the machines are indecent and immodest. Even the newest auto imaging technology software that claims to obscure the image of the nude body only presents the machine operator with an edited version of the image, while the machine captures the entire image, which can then be stored by governmental and private agencies.

Second, while TSA and creators of the machines tout the safety of body-scanner technology, the truth is that there is no long-term data to confirm these claims. Researchers have challenged these findings, claiming that the amount of radiation is higher than suggested because the doses were calculated as if distributed throughout the entire body, whereas the radiation emitted is focused only on the skin and surrounding tissues. (This also means that if a bomb were carried inside the body, these scanners would not detect it.) The verdict on the safety of body-scanning technology has yet to be delivered. Rather than walk through a machine that may cause harm to my body, I prefer to ask questions. When told to walk through the body scanner, I informed the TSA agent that I could not submit to that form of screening, but that I would walk through a metal detector and have all of my items searched. The next step would be the infamous pat-down. I knew of one man who successfully opted out, and so we decided to see if we, too, could opt out of both.

Image from a full body scanner now used in airports

We could not. As soon as we explained that we could submit to neither the pat down nor the body-scan, the TSA shut down the entire line behind us, effectively decreasing the efficiency of their overall screening procedures and doubling the wait time for other travelers. Members of the LAPD arrived to deal with the “issue”: two people standing shoeless, respectfully asking questions.

The TSA Web site states that travelers are entitled to ask questions about the process, but the more questions we asked, the more we felt we were being penalized. It was an absurd situation in which to find ourselves — I a Jewish Studies professor and my companion a nice Jewish comedy director — and my emotions bordered simultaneously on laughter and tears as I realized with horror that we had created a spectacle. We were being used to create a spectacle of fear in what amounts to little more than the TSA security theater. I shuddered as I realized I was flanked by apathy and fear. People all around us continued to thoughtlessly walk through body-scanners and receive pat-downs. Those who were not altogether apathetic watched us with expressions of fear.

A revelation: It was not security that was being peddled, but rather fear and paranoia, all to create for the public an illusion of security. Do what we say, give us your trust, refrain from questioning us, and you will be safe. But are we safe? Are we safer than we were before the implementation of invasive searches?

In January 2012, the TSA published online a list of the top 10 finds for 2011. Some of these “good catches” include snakes, birds and reptiles; a graduate student’s science experiment that contained a device that looked like it could be an explosive device (it was harmless); inert landmines; a ninja book with two throwing knives (the passenger surrendered the book at the checkpoint because he had forgotten that it was in the carry-on bag); small chunks of inert C4 explosives found in the checked bag of a member of our armed forces who was taking them home as souvenirs; a pistol strapped to the ankle of a 76-year-old man; a flare gun along with seven flares; a stun gun disguised as a smartphone; and a non-metallic martial arts device called a “tactical spike” found in a passenger’s sock.

If it sounds like a list created by The Onion, it was not. This was published by the TSA in support of the strength of its security screening procedures. So let’s break this list down. With the exception of the “tactical spike,” not one of these “top finds” was discovered by a body-scanning device. The pistol would have been easily detected by a metal detector. Further, it is not illegal to travel with firearms, as long as they are declared and not carried on the plane. Typically, passengers carrying undeclared firearms were not arrested, but rather fined. That is, such passengers are suspected not of having terrorist impulses, but of forgetfulness or unintelligent decisions. In the words of the TSA: “Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that’s for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items in their bag.”

Now, the landmines: They were, well, inert. They were harmless, as were the small chunks of C4 explosives found in the checked bag of a member of our military. Without a detonator — and it is virtually impossible to carry a functioning detonator through a metal detector — there is nothing that could have been accomplished with the chunks of C4. As for the ninja book with the throwing knives, which the passenger himself surrendered after realizing that it was not in his checked bag, I’m not sure it should be on the list. And while I do not prefer to fly on an airplane with reptilian and avian stowaways, I’m also not sure that doing so would put me in the line of terrorist fire. The intense TSA security screening procedures have been implemented to protect us from the threat of terrorism, not to discover illegal but non-threatening items. I remain unimpressed with the effectiveness of the body-scanning devices and pat-downs. Apparently the experts are equally unimpressed. Rafi Sela, an Israeli airport security expert who helped design security at Ben Gurion International Airport, has said: “I don’t know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747. … That’s why we haven’t put them in our airport.”

One brash commenter on the TSA Web site suggests that he would rather the TSA prevent passengers with antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis from flying than confiscate birds, science experiments, unloaded guns, toothpaste and cupcakes. As always, the threat here remains unclear. Given the recent debacles over confiscated toiletries and baked goods, it seems that the greatest fear is that passengers will clean their teeth or develop Type 2 diabetes. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the threat was terrorism. As a result, we allowed many of our rights to be violated in the name of justice and in the hope of preventing another terrorist attack. But what has materialized is the realization that the cost of these procedures to our dignity — not to mention the monetary cost, hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase the machines and maintain them each year — is not worth the mountains of confiscated items.

We all want to fly on safe airplanes. The fallacy is that this must be accomplished by violating our privacy.

In my case, we had to make a decision: insist on ethics and dignity and miss our flight; or accept the pat-down, board our flight, and reclaim our dignity on another day. I opted to fly and found myself standing before a line of 12 to 15 men and one female terminal manager. A female TSA agent began to explain the procedure. I asked her if she would be touching my genitals, and she confirmed that she would be touching my “labia.” I was told to raise my arms, and standing in front of multiple men, my long blouse (which I had worn over black footless tights) was pulled up, exposing my entire bare midriff as well as the bottom portion of my bra. I forced myself to look into the faces of all the men who stood there, bearing witness to my humiliation. I continued to look, as the TSA agent pulled my tights away from my body and ran her fingers around my bare waistline.


The TSA Web site states: “You should neither be asked to nor agree to lift, remove, or raise any article of clothing to reveal a sensitive area of the body,” and, “Bare or exposed skin should not be touched by the security officer.” Both of these regulations were violated in full view of those in charge. Surely, I thought, this must be an anomaly. Driving home to Pico-Robertson from LAX later that week, I experienced a clash of emotions: anger, sadness, shame, humiliation, regret, fear. I was confused. I had a deep sense of having insisted on the “right” thing, but it had gone unrewarded. I felt punished. I asked myself: What, as both a Jew and a human being, is my responsibility? The simple but complex answer is that I am simply responsible. And as I accepted that responsibility, I became a repository for stories more distressing than my own.

A colleague, his wife and their 7-month-old daughter, Hazel, were flying from Charlotte, N.C., to Providence, R.I., for Thanksgiving in 2010. My friend and his wife discussed refusing the scanner, but considering the difficulty of making a 14-hour car ride with a baby, his wife insisted that they “comply.” Out of respect for his wife’s desire to get home for her first Thanksgiving with her new baby, my friend agreed to undergo whatever invasion of privacy the TSA insisted on. He went through the metal detector after disassembling his daughter’s stroller. While he reassembled it on the other side, the agents asked his wife to remove their daughter’s pink cardigan sweater-vest. The mother complied, and the agent felt Hazel’s little torso, presumably for an explosive device.

When asked how he felt about the pat-down of his baby girl, my friend responded: “I don’t know. I’m still telling the story, which probably gives some indication of how I feel. It’s an unnamed feeling, and I have nothing to compare it to — something having to do with violation of what makes me, and all of us, human. I would prefer to put my daughter on a hundred flights that involved no security check at all to even dreaming about a stranger patting her down for explosives again.”

The next time the family flew, they passed through the metal detectors unmolested. But my colleague will never forget watching the family in front of them: “I watched the passive father, who was watching his 14-year-old daughter with her arms extended and her feet shoulders width apart while a TSA agent, a woman, with disposable plastic gloves felt around the young girl’s waistband. Needless to say, I wish I hadn’t seen it, and I’m glad I didn’t make eye contact with that father.”

It occurs to me that it is one thing to allow one’s own dignity to be violated. It is quite another to watch that dignity being stripped from our children. My friend cannot stop saying to himself: It’s not just another policy. He continues: “I disagree with 90 percent of what the American government turns into law, but I always felt myself emotionally tied to my country — that was never a question for me. Until the thing with Hazel. Now I’m indifferent. I’m a husband, a father, a pseudo-Buddhist-Gnostic-Christian — but the America that my grandpas fought for in World War II — that’s a thing of the past, to me. I’m over it. When the revolutionaries come looking for support, they can count me in.”

I recently taught a class on post-9/11 fiction at Loyola Marymount University, and I took the opportunity to initiate a dialogue about terrorism, security, fear, human rights and ethical responsibility. I recounted my own experience as a starting point. One student, an Orthodox Jewish woman from the Pico-Robertson neighborhood, explained that, because of her modest clothing, each time she flies, she and her children must go through the body-scanner as well as receive pat-downs. She was told once that her skirt was not tight enough. As I listened to her story of being penalized for modesty, my distress was reignited. I realized that with regard to the level of indecency of which the TSA is capable, I had only touched the surface.

Ouriel and Gabrielle Hassan (a Canadian citizen with a green card) are Orthodox Jews living in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. Ouriel’s family is from Egypt. Years ago, Ouriel’s grandfather changed the family’s name from “Hazan” to “Hassan” in an effort to avoid persecution in Egypt. In 2002, Ouriel arrived at LAX on a flight from New York. To his surprise, he was met by two machine-gun-toting soldiers who instructed Ouriel to accompany them. Once in a private room, Ouriel was strip-searched and held for three hours. The items he carried — clothing, Hebrew books, tefillin — were searched meticulously, and he was asked to open his tefillin, which would have destroyed them. When he explained that to the officers, they retracted the order, and, finding no reason to detain him, they released Ouriel with neither apologies nor explanation. He is subjected to scrutiny each time he travels.

Last year before Pesach, he and his wife and their 3-year-old son traveled from Los Angeles to Vancouver. As Ouriel prepared to enter the body-scanner, TSA agents approached Gabrielle and told her that her son, Eliyahu Yosef Hassan, would need to undergo additional screening procedures. She was told to point out Eliyahu’s bags and personal items; being only 3 years old, however, he had no personal items. Eliyahu was then taken from his mother and brought to a special screening area where a large woman roughly “patted” him down, grasping at his genitals and demonstrating indifference to his fearful and hysterical sobs. Gabrielle was prohibited from holding her son’s little hand. Despite TSA regulations that do not permit children to be separated from parents, she was forbidden from standing near him because he might “pass” something to her.

The TSA claimed that “Eliyahu Yosef Hassan” was on a no-fly list. It turns out that the name of the person on the no-fly list is “Yusef Hasan.” Yet little Eliyahu has experienced the traumatizing security screening two additional times. Although the TSA allows people with names similar to those on no-fly lists to apply for special numbers that will alert agents to these similarities and simplify screening processes, Eliyahu is not eligible for this number because he is under 16 years old. Instead, they must be prepared to submit their son to this humiliation. Additionally, TSA agents have withheld from Gabrielle the offer of a private screening room and patted her down in public by putting their hands underneath her skirt and against her legs, as well as lifting her clothing and running their hands underneath the underwire of her bra. Women, particularly those who dress modestly for religious reasons, are being publically humiliated, and their fathers, husbands and brothers must often deal with guilt stemming from their inability to protect their loved ones from degradation.

These are not the experiences of all travelers. But it is difficult to justify even one small child being violated by procedures implemented on the basis of their capacity to protect us from acts of terrorism. Children are being touched in a way that would be illegal anywhere outside of the gray zone of the TSA screening area. In a society that has, given the countless sexual abuse scandals involving priests, coaches and others in positions of authority, we are obsessed with protecting our children from physical and sexual abuse. Yet we give random people in TSA uniforms the authority to touch our children in any way they see fit — all in the name of safer skies. The past years have shown us that people in positions of power often violate children. But our fear of terrorism has become greater than our fear of child abuse, and we have offered up the dignity of our children in exchange for the illusion that we are safer because of it.

Some suggest that if one finds pat-downs to be inappropriate, he or she should not resist the technology that is designed to detect the materials sought through pat-downs. But a number of experts in the field remind us that these machines make mistakes. Agents testing the system have successfully passed through body-scanners with weapons. And they have warned of the possibility of overdose. One glitch could cause a body-scanner to emit an overdose of radiation. But just how common are errors? Apparently the TSA screeners at LAX have grown accustomed to them.

Jaime Eliezer Karas recently declined the body-scan at LAX, chose the pat-down, and watched the agent insert the piece of fabric into the machine that detects traces of explosive material. According to Karas: “We stood there in silence, both knowing everything was almost over. Suddenly, the machine displayed a message: ‘EXPLOSIVES DETECTED.’  The TSA agent did not flinch. As if in a previously choreographed sequence, he glided over to the next machine and was replaced by another agent.” Karas decided to inquire about what was wrong, and the second TSA employee replied that the cloth came up as having detected explosives, and that he was scanning it again at the next machine. The agent — who works for the same organization that terrorizes little Eliyahu Hassan every time he flies — was unconcerned by this information. The second machine did not think that Karas was carrying explosives, and he was given clearance to proceed toward the gates. Indeed, Karas carried no explosives. But the point is the inability of the technology to accurately assess the situation 100 percent of the time.

Many of us have forgotten how to be mindful. Are the deep costs to human dignity worth the ambiguous outcomes — piles of confiscated toothpaste and cupcakes amid optimistic claims that we are now safer? I continue to ask myself what, exactly, is my responsibility? How can I contribute to making a positive and meaningful change?

Much like the inconsistency in how TSA regulations are carried out, the attitudes of TSA members vary. Some TSA agents are snide and aggressive.  One woman, who recently conducted my pat-down in Seattle, was different. As she asked me if I had ever experienced the procedure, the look on my face told her I had. I opened my mouth to speak, but I had no words and I knew somehow that my face was telling the stories I could not speak in that moment. She looked at me intently, lowered her gaze and said, “I know. I’m sorry. It’s awful. You shouldn’t have to …  “ Her voice trailed off and she looked back up at me, as if asking for a pardon for what she was about to do.

Perhaps I was more of a revolutionary in this moment, when I smiled and said, “Thank you. Thank you for saying that.” There was something in her acknowledgment of her complicity in something indecent and undeserved that moved me. Her acknowledgment of how we were both, in that moment, being shamed as women, as citizens, and as human beings was an opening: an unspoken dialogue.

Responsibility begins with awareness and, one day, hopefully, ends with action.

The TSA claims that “since imaging technology has been deployed at airports, more than 99 percent of passengers choose to be screened by this technology over alternative screening procedures.” Perhaps we should think carefully about why people “choose” radiation over public humiliation — or perhaps there’s not much to think about there.

Monica Osborne is a professor of Jewish literature and culture and has written for The New Republic, Tikkun, and other publications.

Calendar Girls Picks and Clicks August 23 – 29: Benny Goodman, opera, magic and more



Today, the importance of recalling the horrors and magnitude of the Holocaust are more important than ever. The children at LA Opera’s annual summer camp (photo,below) will present Hans Krasa’s moving piece, “Brundibár.” The enchanting tale of tolerance and hope is a work that is historically significant because it had been ” target=”_blank”>

” target=”_blank”>


Here’s how to market a charity event: Just plug the words “fantasy” and “illusion” into the title. And that’s exactly what you’ll get during “A Night of Fantasy and Illusion” hosted by The Guardians of the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging. Illusionists and fire-eaters will sweep through the mysterious Houdini estate, entertaining guests as they drink, dine and dance while beats spun by the Playboy mansion’s resident DJ wake up the neighbors in the Hollywood Hills. All this and a good cause! Sat. 8 p.m. $150 (women), $200 (men). The Harry Houdini estate, 2400 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Hollywood Hills. (310) 479-2468. ” target=”_blank”>


Women always worry about guests. Will there be enough food? Will they like it? Oy vey! Enter Abigail, the protagonist of Mike Leigh’s middle-class comedy, “Abigail’s Party,” who forces food and cigarettes on her guests to cover up that her dinner party and her marriage are falling apart. Sat. 8 p.m. Through Oct. 12. $15-$45. Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 477-2055. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>in a showcase of musical flavors. Expressing the cultural diversity of Jews in the Diaspora, guitarist Adam del Monte joins Cantor Marcelo Gindlin, harpist Marcia Dickstein and the Mariachi Divas for a musical feast in the outdoor air. Sun. 7:30 p.m. $25-$36. The Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood. (323) 461-3673. ” target=”_blank”>


We’ve all heard the horror story where the happily-in-love betrothed couple get to the fateful aisle and someone gets the urge to run. “Lovers and Other Strangers” tells such a tale, set in the 1960s against the backdrop of women’s lib. The story examines the impact of the women’s movement on marriage, work and family — with the unfortunate groom having to bear the brunt of a new and unfamiliar world. 6 p.m. (Sun.), 8 p.m. (Fri.-Sat.). $20. Through Sept. 28. Theatre 68, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 960-7827. ” target=”_blank”>



Nessah mixes fun with philanthropy at its “Glamour Summer Night” party at one of the hippest clubs in West Hollywood. Sam Nazarian, the business brain behind some of Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan’s favorite haunts, is donating his club to raise money for Nessah Young Professionals and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. Twenty and thirtysomethings are invited to dress to the nines and blow out summer with a bang. Tue. 8:30 p.m. $50 (presale), $75 (door). AREA, 643 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (818) 631-1000. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>Social Circle at Steven S. Wise Temple, why not learn a bit more about your options? Renowned plastic surgeon Dr. George Sanders will answers all the nitty-gritty questions of getting sliced and diced to look oh so nice. And even if you choose not to go under the knife, who can say no to a night of food, drinks and some laughs? Wed. 7-10 p.m. $15 (members), $20 (guests). Hershenson Hall, Stephen S. Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 204-1240.



What do you get when you mix Israeli pilots, a star-crossed and love-struck Nazi-Jewish couple and Plato? A taste of the emerging talent at the August Sun Film and Television Festival. Director Robert J. Locke and August Sun Productions looked for movies, TV pilots and shorts with two things in common: quality and promoting world peace. Today, when we struggle with the idea of peace both in the Middle East and around the world, maybe the perfect solution is relaxing and enjoying a show. Thu. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Also Fri. $25 (half pass for screenings only), $50 (full pass for screenings and seminars). The Crest Theatre, 1262 Westwood Blvd., Westwood. (818) 284-9084, (310) 474-7866. ” target=”_blank”>

–Jina Davidovich contributed to this article

Spring Calendar

Trailer for the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival, May 8


Sun., March 9
Barrage in “High Strung.” The young, hip cast of Barrage, a contemporary string ensemble, will dish out high-energy virtuosity in their newest show. The international cast features six violinists/vocalists, a drummer, a bass player and a guitarist who will present an amalgam of music, song and dance with a diverse fusion of cultures and musical styles. Join in on the spine-tingling fiddle-fest. 2 p.m. $35 (adults), $20 (17 and under), $10 (Pepperdine students). Pepperdine University Smothers Theatre, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. (310) 506-4522.

Tue., March 11
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The renowned dance company, founded by a giant of American dance, comes to Orange County for a program that incorporates gospel, jazz and popular music, modern dance and ballet. Highlights will include Ailey’s masterpiece “Revelations,” which has been performed on hundreds of stages around the world and has been received with awe and delight since its debut in 1960. As an added bonus, ticket holders are invited to a free performance preview with a member of the Ailey company, one hour before the show. 7:30 p.m. Through March 16. $25-$85. Orange County Performing Arts Center, Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. (714) 556-2787.

“Lessons From Bernard Rudofsky.” In a day and age where body image is the craze, an exhibition of the work of late Austrian-born Bernard Rudofsky will display innovative concepts of the body and fashion in an exhibit presented by the Getty Center Research Institute. Rudofsky, an architect, designer and critic, believed that people in Western society lost their spontaneity to design liberating, not restricting, clothing. Devoting his life to exposing the West to foreign architecture paradigms and unfamiliar customs, this breakthrough artist wrote nine books and more than 100 articles on the subject. View Rudofsky’s work accompanied by a 296-page catalogue with contributions from several talented artists. Tue.-Sun. Through June 8. $8 (parking). The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 440-7300.

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” It’s difficult to separate the dashing Johnny Depp from Sweeney Todd’s character, after having seen the recent film. Although Depp won’t be on stage at this show, you can still have an up-close-and-personal look at the eerie character in an exciting theatrical performance based on the 19th-century legend of a London barber driven to madness after a judge takes his wife and child away. Sweeney Todd, played by David Hess, plots his revenge with Mrs. Lovett, played by Judy Kaye, who conjures up surprisingly tasty meat pies infused with a secret ingredient. Adapted from a book by Hugh Wheeler, the production’s music and lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim with musical orchestrations by Sarah Travis. 8 p.m. Through April 6. $30-$90. Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. For tickets and additional show times, call (213) 628-2772.

Fri., March 14
“Beaufort.” The Israeli war film “Beaufort” stirred up scads of excitement this year with its Best Foreign Language Oscar nomination. Although the film didn’t win, it won many people’s hearts. Based on a novel by Ron Leshem, “Beaufort” was directed by Joseph Cedar and recreates the events prior to the Israeli troop withdrawal from the Beaufort military base in Southern Lebanon. Led by 22-year-old commander Liraz Liberti, played by Oshri Cohen, the small Israeli cohort of troops become weary of their mission when fellow soldiers are killed and injured. The film takes an in-depth look at the fear and drudgery of soldiers’ daily routines and examines the country’s ambivalence toward the 18-year presence in Lebanon. Playing in two locations: Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; and Laemmle’s Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino. For tickets and show times, call (310) 274-6869 or (818) 981-9811.

Tori Spelling at Barnes and Noble. Admit it, you have a tinge of curiosity about how Aaron Spelling’s daughter is prolonging her 15 minutes of fame. Since playing Donna Martin on “Beverly Hills, 90210,” the high-school soap-drama that started it all, Spelling has appeared on various reality TV series, wed and borne children and endured a public tussle with her mother over her alleged exclusion from her late father’s estate. Now, Tori Spelling is telling the story like it is with her new memoir, “sTORI Telling,” and today she’ll appear to sign books you can place alongside old “90210” posters. Just don’t expect her to talk about her “poor little rich girl” reputation. 7:30 p.m. Book purchase required for signing. Barnes and Noble at The Grove, 189 Grove Drive, Los Angeles. (323) 525-0366.

“Strauss Meets Frankenstein” at the Long Beach Opera. In a dramatic and different double-bill, actor Michael York will perform Tennyson’s epic poem “Enoch Arden,” about the love and loss that ensues when three friends find themselves romantically entwined. The heartbreak of destiny is deepened by Richard Strauss’ rich, evocative score. The performance changes tone when the audience enters the wild, macabre underworld of Frankenstein where rodents, vampires, werewolves, John Wayne and Superman coalesce in a real monster of a musical. 8 p.m. Also March 15 and 16. $45-$95. Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Center Theatre, 300 E. Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach. (562) 432-5934.

Pasadena ArtWeekend. During a fun-filled weekend featuring more than 20 exhibitions, performances and cultural activities, Pasadena will host a comprehensive celebration of fine arts, visual arts, poetry, spoken word, music, storytelling and theater. Several cultural institutions will open their doors for “ArtNight,” offering a free peek at their collections. “ArtTalk” features a variety of performances, and the weekend is rounded off with “ArtMarket,” a design open market focusing on the work of students, faculty and alumni from Art Center College of Design and Pasadena City College, which will be available for sale. Sponsored by the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs with the Arts & Culture Commission. ArtWeekend will take place at various venues and times over the course of three days, and all events are free and open to the public. For more information, call (800) 307-7977 or visit

Gypsy Kings at Cerritos Center. Starting on the shores of the French Cote d’Azur, the Gypsy Kings fused South American rumba with fiery Spanish flamenco and their colorful blend of rhythms, leading to international success and recognition on the World Music scene. Tonight they “cast their spell” for a Southern California audience. 8 p.m. $45-$100. (562) 467-8818.

Picks and clicks for March 15-21


” target=”_blank”>

Sometimes it helps to laugh away the pain. Political smarts and cunning wits come together in Stand Up for Peace, a comedy group that humorously unites Jewish and Arab portrayals of an age-old conflict. Scott Blakeman and Dean Obeidallah will bandy jokes, politics and storytelling as the headliners tonight at The J’s “Comedy Cabaret.” 8 p.m. $30-$36 (includes two drinks). Merage JCC, One Federation Way, Irvine. (949) 435-3400. ” target=”_blank”>

Calling all eco-warriors to battle in Malibu Creek! Heal the Bay will be commander-in-chief for dozens of volunteers who will help restore the Malibu Creek State Park watershed by removing harmful plants and manmade litter, as well as planting beneficial native species during a four-hour eco-program. All volunteers are welcome (14+); no previous restoration experience is required. The knowledgeable Heal the Bay folks will teach you everything you need to know, and will also provide the tools and refreshments needed to aid you in the mildly strenuous activity. No R.S.V.P. required — just show up! 9 a.m. Lower parking lot of Malibu Creek State Park, 1924 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas. (310) 451-1500. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’alt=”chinese dragon”>

Celebrate Purim with the Friendship Circle, an organization dedicated to providing Jewish children with special needs social, recreational and Judaic programs. The Friendship Circle of Los Angeles is hosting a Purim concert and festival with Rabbi Michy and friends. The theme is Chinese, so dress your kids up as dragons, warriors or egg rolls (Queen Esther is fine, too!) and come partake in the arts and crafts, Chinese buffet, games and activities. Volunteers from Sinai Akiba Academy will be assisting the children if necessary. 1-3 p.m. $5. Friendship Circle of L.A., 9581 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 277-3252;
“>Prayers for Women, by a Woman.” ). Berland will discuss the history of these prayers and how she adapted them into poems in “Hours of Devotion: Fanny Neuda’s Book of Prayers for Jewish Women.” 2 p.m. Free. Santa Monica Public Library, Main Library’s Multipurpose Room, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 458-8600. “>” target=”_blank”>

Along with the usual festivities — pony rides, face painting, clowns, raffle contest — Temple Beth Haverim’s cool carnival boasts a loyal yearly crowd of 1,000 people and raises $10,000 for temple programs. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free admission. Red Oak Elementary, 4857 Rockfield St., Oak Park. (818) 991-7111.

Join the communitywide Long Beach fifth annual Community Purim Celebration, which will include performances by local youth jazz bands and a unique mezuzah auction in which the highest bidder will snag one designed by Bette Midler. Noon-3 p.m. Free admission; activity tickets available for purchase on site. Alpert JCC, 3801 E. Willow St., Long Beach. (562) 426-7601. ” target=”_blank”>

Friends of Valley Cities JCC is throwing a fun-filled Purim festival in honor of this frolicsome holiday. Stock up on plenty of raffle tickets because your kids will be itching to win the grand prize Nintendo Wii with “Guitar Hero.” 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free admission. $1 activity tickets. Friends of Valley Cities JCC, 13164 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 786-6310.

Jewish, Muslim Filmmakers Team Up on Documentary

With all of the negative images about Jewish-Muslim clashes in the world, it is nice to see a documentary, directed and produced by a Jew and a Muslim, about a Muslim son taking over his father’s slaughterhouse business in Queens, N.Y.

“A Son’s Sacrifice,” which will be screened for one week at ArcLight Cinemas as part of DocuWeek’s 10th annual International Documentary Showcase, follows the transition of a young Muslim American as he moves from an enervating job in advertising to a more spiritually enriching experience running his father’s Old World business.

Though short even by documentary standards at 28 minutes, the film delves deeply into what 24-year-old director Yoni Brook, an NYU film school graduate, calls “primal rituals,” and what his 22-year-old producer, Musa Syeed, refers to as a “story that embodies modernity vs. tradition.”

The idea for the film may have begun years ago when Brook, as a student at a Jewish day school in Washington, D.C., visited a kosher slaughterhouse in rural Pennsylvania.

“It turned a lot of people off,” he said, chuckling. “Eighty percent of us became vegetarians.”

Even if Brook, who is not a vegetarian, admitted that the 80 percent figure is “hyperbolic,” the experience of watching animals being slaughtered is not for the squeamish. In “A Son’s Sacrifice,” the camera shows us more than a little bloodshed, although that may be mild compared to other shots in the film, including one of a goat being incinerated and another being dragged away to its death.

But the filmmakers, who received financing from several foundations, including the Harvard Pluralism Project and the Independent Television Service, a nonprofit affiliated with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, do not pass judgment on this old-fashioned profession, which, according to Brook, is experiencing a “renaissance.” He said there are now 80 or so ethnic slaughterhouses in the five boroughs of New York, including the halal poultry store depicted in the movie.

The film, which will air next year on PBS, grew out of Brook’s senior thesis at NYU. Marco Williams, his professor and the film’s executive producer, teamed him up with Syeed, and they began leafing through the Yellow Pages, searching for slaughterhouses on the weekends. Syeed said that it took time to “build trust,” because some Muslim Americans are a bit wary of the camera and “feel that they are marginalized” by American media.

The protagonist, Imran, a sweet, burly man, who is now 28, goes through a kind of identity crisis in the course of the film. Lacking a full beard, he is questioned as to his Muslim bona fides by a few men who drive a van with a sticker reading, “Islam is the solution.”

This question galls him, given how much he values being a Muslim. That is not to say that Imran is not a full-fledged American.

Where John Updike, for all his literary adroitness, renders his Muslim protagonist in “Terrorist” as a cliché, Brook and Syeed show the complexities of their young hero. Imran does not utter the kind of formal, yet standard-issue, Islam-for-dummies language of Ahmad in “Terrorist,” lines like, “In a few minutes, I am going to see the face of God. My heart overflows with the expectation.”

Instead, Imran speaks like an educated, yet streetwise, New Yorker, who collects “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings” figurines in his low-ceilinged bedroom, wears baseball caps and uses spreadsheet software in his cubbyhole office.

The tension in the film comes from whether Imran will successfully prepare the small business for Qurbani, the holiday during which Muslims commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, not Isaac. Will Imran earn the trust of his father’s customers, and will he be ready to slaughter an animal? These are the questions that preoccupy him and his father.

Though we never hear anyone address Imran by his name, the filmmakers humanize him, presenting him as one whose experience is “transcendent of being Muslim or being Jewish,” Brook said. “It’s a universal story. I almost thought I was talking to my own father,” he added, referring to the “religious and immigrant tensions” that he, too, has faced as a first-generation American with an Israeli father.

To emphasize the universality of the story, the filmmakers show a shot of the Empire State Building looming across the river from the slaughterhouse, a subtle reminder that New Yorkers of all faiths suffered during 9/11, but they, like this particular iconic skyscraper, remain standing.

“A Son’s Sacrifice” will be screened Friday-Thursday at Theater 9, ArcLight Cinemas, 6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood.

For information, call (213) 534-3600 Ext. 7438 or go to

Spectator – A Three Nyuks Salute

Three Jews are in a room screaming at one another, poking each other in the eyes, hitting each other on the head with objects ranging from frying pans to anvils. It’s either a meeting of the synagogue’s board of trustees or a Three Stooges film festival. Fortunately, this time, it’s the latter, a quick but lethal — and lethally funny — display of Stoogehood by the American Cinematheque as part of its year-end festivities from Dec. 28-Dec.30.

Why the Stooges? Well this is the 70th anniversary of the inestimable trio’s signing by Columbia Pictures, the momentous contract that locked them into the comfortable prison block of the short-films unit at the studio. (Given that the Stooges started with the “Lady With the Lamp” in 1934 and released their first short for Columbia, “Woman Haters,” that year, logic would seem to dictate that this is the 71st anniversary, but logic seldom came onto the horizon where the Stooges are concerned.)

The Stooges would toil long and hard making films that ranged from 15 minutes to the much rarer expansiveness of 20 minutes. By the time the boys had reached the pinnacle of the industry, Jerome and Samuel Howard (better know as Curly and Shemp) had been dead several years, and Moe Howard (ne Horwitz) and Larry Fine (ne Feinberg) were well past their prime. Adding Joe Besser and Joe DeRita (a.k.a. Curly Joe) in succession as third Stooges did nothing to help, and the scripts that the boys were saddled with can best be judged by a trip to Cinematheque for “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules,” a woeful 1962 extravaganza that suffers from too little money, too few gags and too much running time.

The Stooges shorts are sharp, savage, funny and, yes, vulgar. The comedy short never lent itself to great sophistication. When geniuses like Keaton and Chaplin wanted to explore more complex modes of moviemaking and richer thematic relationships, they moved into features.

The Stooges were never so fortunate, but the best of their shorts, like “You Nazty Spy!” is pointed in its satire of Hitler (here played by the oldest Howard brother as Moe Hailstone of Moronica), and goes for his jugular with a gusto that prestige features of the time didn’t dare. Were the Stooges comic geniuses? No, but they had the sterling comic timing of the professional funnyman, hard-won in a thousand tank towns on the vaudeville circuit, and that is more than enough.

The American Cinematheque is showing the Three Stooges in “You Nazty Spy!” before the screening of “The Cocoanuts” on Wednesday,Dec. 28 at 7:30 p.m.; “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules,” preceded by “We Want Our Mummy” will be shown the following night at 7:30 p.m. Finally, on Friday, Dec. 30 at 7:30 p.m., the Cinematheque comemorates “The Three Stooges’ 70th Anniversary with a program of six of their best shorts, “Men in Black,” which merited their only Oscar nominee for best live-action short “Horses’ Collars.” “From Nurse To Worse,” “Squareheads Of The Round Table,” “An Ache in Every Stake” and “In the Sweet Pie and Pie,” which concludes with of the greatest pie-fight sequences ever perpetrated. All programs will be shown at the Aero Theater (1328 Montana Ave. at 14th Street) in Santa Monica. For more information visit’Tickets.

George Robinson is film and music critic for Jewish Week. His book, “Essential Torah,” will be published by Shocken Books in fall 2006.

U.S. Studios Court Israeli Programmers

Danna Stern, head of acquisitions at YES, Israel’s only television satellite company, was surprised to see that Mark Burnett, reality TV guru and producer of hit shows like “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” had only one framed press clipping in his office: a feature on him that had appeared in Ha’aretz, an Israeli daily.

Stern and her associates get wined and dined every year by television network executives at a weeklong Los Angeles screening of shows in May, during which 2,000 television executives from all over the world sit all day in front of studio screens to view the new fall season pilots for sale.

Hollywood exports are a big business, and U.S. studios sometimes rake in more from international licensing than domestic. Even though Israeli acquisitions account for only 2 percent of overseas television exports, Stern thinks Israel gets special attention.

“They’re always interested way beyond our share in the market — and the same goes for the talent,” she said. “Because we’re a very recognizable country, they’re very accessible to us.”

In addition, she added, most of the marketing people and executives are Jewish, and are “always interested in Israel.”

Stern has mingled with Geena Davis, Teri Hatcher and Jennifer Garner, who take the time to meet with the foreign visitors at studio parties.

“The stars are really interested in hearing what works well,” she said. “They always promise to come [to Israel], but they never do.”

Last month, YES held its first-ever press screening at Israel’s largest cinema complex, Cinema City, in Herzilya, modeling it after the Los Angeles screening, to show-off its newest acquisitions. Among them are: “Prison Break,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “My Name Is Earl,” “Commander in Chief,” “The War at Home,” “Supernatural Invasion” and “How I Met Your Mother.” YES directors believed that the number and quality of acquisitions justified its screening, in which dozens of Israeli reporters got to watch U.S. television for an entire day.

While the new shows will be broadcast early next year, the turnaround time between a show’s U.S. premiere and its Israeli premiere is much shorter than in the past.

YES was founded about five years ago, increasing competition in the Israeli television market. Before that, only one cable company and two Israeli networks, Channel 2 and IBA, vied for U.S. and European shows. Now, YES competes with a whole slew of television outlets: a new Israeli network (Channel 10) and locally run niche channels for lifestyle, music, action, children, comedy, parenting, sports, documentaries and even Judaism.

Prior to this television growth spurt, visitors or immigrants to Israel were hard pressed to find their favorite U.S. TV show on Israeli channels, and if they did, they were stuck with shows from a season or two earlier. “Seinfeld” first aired only after the third season premiered in the United States.

“Everyone is trying to shorten the time because of piracy — people are already downloading shows the next day, so we can’t afford to wait as we usually did,” Stern said

The YES executive said that the current delay of a few months still has advantages. Israel does not air reruns, and a U.S. buzz around a show has enough time to echo in Israel.

YES has been the leader in importing U.S., as well as British, TV shows, including “The West Wing,” “Weeds,” “Entourage,” “The Sopranos,” “The Comeback,” “Arrested Development,” “The O.C.,” “Hope and Faith,” “Scrubs” and more. Last year’s acquisition, “Desperate Housewives,” is the biggest hit. Other shows, like “Nip/Tuck,” “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Lost,” were picked up by other Israeli networks.

Sometimes Israeli buyers view new shows via broadband, but May is the time the big sales occur, when Stern and her associates choose among 30-40 programs. She noted that shows with religious themes, like “7th Heaven” and “Joan of Arcadia,” don’t do well in Israel.

“I think Israelis are a little more sophisticated than the average American viewer,” she said. “They tend to like things with an edge.”

Orit Arfa is a writer living in Tel Aviv. She can be reached at


Prop. 73: The Devil’s in the Details

When Californians go to the polls on Nov. 8, many will read Proposition 73 as a proposal to require that health care providers perform the seemingly logical task of informing parents before performing abortions on underage girls.

But the considered opinions of doctors and Juvenile Court judges, as well as a look at the actual text of Proposition 73, reveal that the initiative is fraught with adverse ramifications for virtually all Californians. It also poses particular issues for the Jewish community.

Much of the literature against Proposition 73 correctly emphasizes that many teenage girls will seek underground abortions, rather than have their parents (or guardians, foster parents or other legal designees) learn that they are pregnant. Thus, under the banner, “Protect California’s Teens,” a Planned Parenthood Web page urges that defeating Proposition 73 is essential to ensuring that desperate teenagers retain access to safe and legitimate medical care.

This emphasis is entirely appropriate. But there’s more to object to in this ballot initiative. One of the proposition’s most troubling aspects lies within the fine print. Proposition 73 amends the California Constitution to define abortion as a procedure ending the life of a “child conceived but not yet born.”

This radical definition has profound implications not only for teens, but also for adult women. And this carefully calculated wording should be of particular interest to the Jewish community.

Many Jewish couples undergo genetic screening as part of family planning. Those of us who learn we are dual carriers of genetic mutations (e.g., Tay Sachs) know there is a one in four chance of conceiving a child afflicted with the disease.

Couples who face this risk make the wrenching choice of attempting to have a biological child, while also taking the precaution of undergoing testing after conception. Diagnosis is possible through either chorionic villus sampling 10 to 12 weeks into the pregnancy or amniocentesis in the second trimester. Couples choose such procedures with the hope of having a healthy baby.

But typically, they also have resolved to terminate a pregnancy that would, if carried to term, bring forth a child doomed to endure unconscionable suffering ending in early death. A couple that follows this course of action sometimes has the blessing of Orthodox rabbis who would ordinarily oppose abortion.

Amending California’s Constitution to define abortion as ending the life of a “child conceived but not yet born” has profound implications for adult Jewish couples that rely on pregnancy testing. The proposition’s language would, in effect, shorten the road to outlawing abortion.

Indeed, that appears to be the aim of James Holman, the San Diego millionaire who backed Proposition 73 with $800,000, most of which went to paid signature gatherers to get the initiative onto the ballot. In line with his devout, conservative beliefs, Holman has expressed opposition to contraception, as well as to abortion apparently under all circumstances, including rape and incest.

Defining abortion as terminating the life of “a child that is conceived but not yet born” also could undermine the legality of stem cell research, perhaps the most promising scientific frontier of the 21st century. Here again, the medical implications are heightened for those of us in the Jewish community who recognize that stem cell research may herald the cures for degenerative diseases linked with genetic markers prevalent among us.

This subtle but intentional groundwork for outlawing abortion is reason enough for opposing Proposition 73, but even at face value, this measure would do more harm than good. It is opposed by Planned Parenthood, of course, and other pro-choice organizations, but also by California Women Lawyers, a statewide organization that promotes the general interests of women in society, as well as the California League of Women Voters.

Women’s advocacy organizations are correct to cite the dangers to teens posed by parental notification initiatives. Indeed, efforts to decriminalize abortion in the 1970s were largely spearheaded by doctors, lawyers, and clergy who knew only too well that making abortion illegal did not prevent abortion, but simply made the procedure lethal to many women who sought out illegal abortions.

Today, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all oppose parental notification laws, citing the risk to teens. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, mandating parental notification does not achieve the intended goal of family communication, but does increase the risk of harm by delaying access to appropriate medical care.

Parental notification is also opposed by Bill and Karen Bell, who lost their daughter to an illegal abortion in 1988. Although Becky Bell belonged to a loving Indianapolis family, this high school junior pursued an underground abortion, rather than tell her parents. The Bells never had the chance to tell their daughter they were not, after all, angry at her.

Instead, they became outraged at the parental notification law, operative in Indiana, that compelled their daughter to resort to the underground abortion that claimed her life. In the wake of their family tragedy, the Bells became activists against parental notification laws.Proposition 73 contains a supposed answer in its “judicial bypass provision,” which would enable teens to seek court orders excusing health care providers from the parental notification requirement in appropriate circumstances. This provision is unrealistic and unreasonably cumbersome both for teenagers and the courts, which is why Juvenile Court judges have gone on record against it.

To activate this provision, California courts would have to appoint guardians ad litem to speak on behalf of teenagers and, in most cases, to appoint lawyers for the minors, as well. In sum, the law would impose a mandate upon all courts, with no source of funding to carry it out.

Like many of my colleagues on the California Women Lawyers board, my personal choices were for marriage and children. I hope, want and expect that my daughters will come to me, however reluctantly, if they became pregnant unexpectedly. But a sweeping parental notification requirement will affect all families, including vulnerable teenagers in broken and abusive families.

As the tragic example of Becky Bell reminds us, even girls in “good” families may resort to underground abortions. And, a close examination of Proposition 73 makes clear that its language and intentions strike far closer to home than many of us previously thought possible in California.

The Jewish community — and everyone else — should oppose Proposition 73 not only because it is bad for teenage girls we may never meet, but also because it is bad — and dangerous — for adults, including ourselves.

Angela J. Davis is president-elect of California Women Lawyers, an independent bar association that advocates on public-policy issues.


7 Days in The Arts

Saturday, October 15

Joyous dance and celebration is at the heart of Russian American painter Ann Krasnow’s art. Take it in, and meet the artist in person at Solaris Gallery’s opening reception for “Ann Krasner: New Work.”

6-9 p.m. 9009 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. (310) 273-6935.

1114 by Ann Krasner 
“1114” by Ann Krasner. 

Sunday, October 16

Your favorite glass-eyed investigator gets honored by the American Cinematheque this weekend at their “Peter Falk In Person Retrospective.” Friday, see a double feature of “The In-Laws” and “Mikey and Nickey,” with a discussion in between films with Columbo himself. Saturday, see “Happy New Year,” or come later for “Wings of Desire” followed by a talk with Falk and director Wim Wenders. And wrap up the weekend with today’s screening of “A Woman Under the Influence.”

$6-9 (per feature or double feature). Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (323) 466-3456.

(From left) Alan Arkin, Peter Falk and director Arthur Hiller.

Monday, October 17

In David Margolick’s new book, “Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling and a World on the Brink,” a boxing match in the days leading up to World War II carried the weight of the world. Hear all about it, as Margolick reads from and signs his book tonight at Book Soup.

7 p.m. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-3110.

Schmeling, a drenched Joe Jacobs at his side. Photo courtesy New York Daily News

Tuesday, October 18

The daughter of late British Jewish actor Laurence Harvey and supermodel Paulene Stone, Domino Harvey led a turbulent existence. Tony Scott’s new biopic, “Domino,” is loosely based on her life story as a drug- and adrenaline-addicted heiress turned bounty hunter. The film opens this week and stars Keira Knightley.

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley stars as model-turned-bounty hunter Domino Harvey. Pnoto by Daniela Scaramuzza/New Line Productions

Wednesday, October 19

“If Hitler had the atomic bomb first, we’d all be speaking German,” observes one World War II British agent in the PBS documentary “Secrets of the Dead: The Hunt for Nazi Scientists.” There’s plenty of derring-do behind enemy lines to track down Nazi nuclear and rocket scientists, and then to snatch them before the Russians could. Harrowing testimony by survivors detail the deaths of 10,000 slave laborers used in the German weapon project. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

8 p.m. on KCET.


Thursday, October 20

Theatrical readings along the theme of “In a Lonely Place” take place today at the Hammer Museum. Co-sponsored by Los Angeles Conservancy’s “Curating the City: Wilshire Boulevard” project, readers include actress Dana Delaney and prototypical L.A. writers James Ellroy and Bruce Wagner.

7 p.m. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 443-7000.

Bruce Wagner
Bruce Wagner

Friday, October 14

Recall the angst-ridden days of college application season in David T. Levinson’s new comedic play, “Early Decision.” The playwright may be more recognizable as the founder and chair of Big Sunday, Los Angeles’ largest volunteer day, but the Jewish community has a role in his play as well.

Oct. 9-Nov. 13. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica. (310) 392-7327.

Early Decision
(From left) Susan Merson, Lara Everly, Brain Chase and Bob Neches star in “Early Decision.”


Lights, Camera, Ventura


While some Jewish film festivals around the country often use older films or films playing at nearby theaters, the Ventura County Jewish Film Festival will show five new films never seen in Ventura County — as well as host their stars.

The festival starts on March 10 at 7 p.m. with the opening night film, “The Aryan Couple.” In the World War II thriller based on a true story, Oscar winner Martin Landau plays a Hungarian businessman who is forced to make a terrible pact with Himmler and Eichmann so he and his family can escape certain death. Landau and director-producer John Daly (“The Last Emperor”) will have a Q & A after the screening.

On March 12, another kind of star will be at the 8 p.m. screening of “Watermarks,” the documentary about the champion women swimmers of the legendary Jewish sports club, Hakoah Vienna, founded in 1909. The star of Israeli director Yaron Zilberman’s first film, 87-year-old champion swimmer Annie Lampl, will be available afterward for questions.

Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Howard Rosenberg and Holocaust scholar Jim Lichti will host a panel discussion on March 13, following the 9:30 a.m. screening of “Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust,” a film that examines Hollywood’s complex responses to the horrors of Nazi Germany.

There’s also a program for the younger set. On March 13 at noon, L.A. director Ari Sandel will introduce the minimusical spoof, “West Bank Story,” (as discussed in the Feb. 4 Jewish Journal), followed by a showing of the animated Steven Spielberg movie-musical, “An American Tail.”

The festival closes at 7 p.m. with Israeli director Eytan Fox’s drama, “Walk on Water,” (reviewed Feb. 25 in The Journal), in which a Mossad hitman assigned to kill a Nazi war criminal befriends his grandchildren.

All films will be shown at Meister Hall, Temple Beth Torah, 7620 Foothill Road, Ventura. For more information about the festival, call (805) 647-4181 or visit

Ivor Davis lives in Ventura and writes for The New York Times and Los Angeles Times syndicates.


7 Days in the Arts

Saturday, October 30

The title says it all in playwright Larry Gelbart’s satirical look at political scandals, “Mastergate.” Utilizing a Hollywood action film as a front – the fictional controversy goes – the White House has allegedly engaged in some illegal shipping of arms. The play centers on the congressional hearings that must logically follow. It plays at the Actors Group Theatre through Nov. 14.

8 p.m. (Fri. and Sat.), 7 p.m. (Sun., except Oct. 31.), 2 p.m. (Oct. 31). $12-$15. 4378 Lankershim Blvd., Universal City. (818) 506-4644.

Sunday, October 31

Old-fashioned music and romance converge in Bruce Kates’ operetta, “Sophie: A Musical Love Story of the 1930s.” Set in Los Angeles, the tale begins with Miles Pearson, a widower who has been so heartbroken by the tragic death of his young bride that he has spent years burying himself in his work as a professor. A series of chance meetings with Diane Walker, an actress heartbroken by life’s injustices, will change him – and her. The show runs through Nov. 14.

2 p.m. (Sundays). $10. Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. R.S.V.P., (323) 665-2208.

Monday, November 1

The prolific and beloved Maurice Sendak gives the kids something new to get excited about: Yiddish. The “Where the Wild Things Are” author employs his storytelling talents in a collaboration with The Shirim Klezmer Orchestra in a klezmer variation of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.” “Pincus and the Pig: A Klezmer Tale” is the resulting CD and full-color booklet, which includes original drawings and removable stickers.

$15. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Tuesday, November 2

Inspired by the stars, artist Renee Amitai depicts the cosmos based on images from the Hubble telescope in her latest works, included in Gallery Asto’s “Conceptual Expressionism” exhibition. “My paintings translate the outward reflection of the inner nature of things,” Amitai writes. “Dream and reality, the continual mystery at the cycle of life, the transcendence of nature.”

11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Tues.-Fri.), 1 p.m.-5 p.m. (Sat.). 923 E. Third St., No. 107, Los Angeles. (213) 972-0995.

Wednesday, November 3

Jewish Book Month continues with tough choices today. Nessa Rapoport battles it out against Jonathan Kirsch for your attention. For Rapoport, head to Arcadia to hear her discuss her book, “House on the River: A Summer Journey” as part of San Gabriel’s Jewish Book Festival. Kirsch fans book it to the Robertson branch library, where he’ll discuss, sell and sign “God Against the Gods.” Stay tuned for The Journal’s Book Issue, Nov. 12.

Rapoport: 7:30 p.m. $10. Arcadia residence. R.S.V.P., (626) 967-3656.
Kirsch: 6-7:30 p.m. 1719 Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 761-8648

Thursday, November 4

Klezmer fun continues at UCLA’s Fowler Museum. “Fowler Out Loud: Klezmer Juice” presents the titular klezmer fusion and world music quintet al fresco with light refreshments this evening. Take advantage of our city’s superior climate and musical groups in Westwood tonight.

(310) 825-4361. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Friday, November 5

The Museum of Television and Radio’s aptly titled, “Two Five-Letter Words: Lenny Bruce” begins today. The screening follows the provocative comedian’s quick rise to fame and subsequent fall through excerpts from appearances on “One Night Stand: The World of Lenny Bruce” and “Playboy’s Penthouse” with Hugh Hefner and Nat King Cole, among others, and a final frenetic interview on “The Steve Allen Show” that was never aired.

Noon-5 p.m. (Wed.-Sun.). Through Jan. 9. Free. 465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 786-1000.

The Sound
and the Fusion

by Gaby Wenig, Staff Writer

” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Every Saturday night at the Disraeli household in Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek in northern Israel, the mandolins would come out and three generations of Disraelis would start to play and sing.

“My grandparents were the original chalutzim [pioneers] who came into Israel before it was even a country, and my grandfather was a poet who wrote songs,” said Itai Disraeli, who now plays bass and percussion for the band Maetar. “So on Saturday night we would get together with them and play harmonies – this music is in our blood.”

In 1991, Disraeli and his brother, Hagai Izraeli, left Israel, but not the music. Three years ago they joined with drummer Peter Buck to start Maetar, a jazz/funk/rock/hip-hop/reggae band that plays clubs all over Los Angeles.

“People ask us what kind of music do we play, and even though we try pretty hard to find a box, the reality is that our music is outside the box,” Disraeli said. “We contain musical influences from Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, klezmer music, Chinese music and Arab music, but our music is totally original. We are innovators, not imitators.”

“We try to intermingle our sounds and voices,” Izraeli said. “It’s a collective sound. At any time any one of us can be leading or following.”

“But it’s very coherent,” Disraeli interjected. “It’s not meaningless meanderings into the jungles of our mind.”

The two chose the name Maetar at the suggestion of Izraeli’s wife. In Hebrew, Maetar has a few meanings. It means string, as in instrument strings. If you break the word up, mae and tar, it means water that you take with you on a journey; another translation is vibrations of change.

These meanings, say the brothers, embody the spirit of their music.

“The beauty of jazz is that it’s a model of democracy,” Izraeli said. “Every person that plays can be the utmost of who he or she is and, at the same time, his powers of [being] individual do not separate him from the group. Music is the true democracy in action.”

Maetar will be playing at Cafe Z at the Skirball Cultural Center, on Oct. 30, noon-2 p.m. Free. For more information, visit

7 Days In Arts


Think haunted houses are scary? Bill Maher, Andy Richter and Sarah Silverman put the real fear of God in you tonight. “Hell Houses” have been around since the Rev. Jerry Falwell reportedly created one in the late ’70s, offering a scary eight-room journey into hell as a Christian alternative to haunted houses. The Abundant Life Christian Center has since put together a Hell House Outreach kit to teach young people the consequences of sin. Tonight marks the opening of “Hollywood Hell House.” The aforementioned comedians play Satan, Jesus and Abortion Girl, respectively, in this walk-through theater vérité recreation of a genuine “Hell House,” based on the specifications of the Outreach kit. The stars of the inferno vary nightly, with an impressive roster of 80 performers that also includes Richard Belzer, Dave Thomas and Julia Sweeney. But tender-hearted ones beware, it is hell they’re showing you here. Expect some gross imagery.Sat. evenings through Oct. 30 and one performance on Sun., Oct. 31. Tours run from 8-10 p.m. $13. Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. R.S.V.P., (323) 692-5868.


Forget comedy. Somebody really ought to investigate the strong tradition of crossdressing in Judaism. Witness Yentl, and Yiddle before her (and those are just the Y’s). Tonight, head to Cinespace for a screening of 1936’s “Yidl Mitn Fidl” for step one in your Jewish crossdressing education. The adorable Molly Picon plays the Yiddle (with a fiddle), a female klezmer musician whose father has her dress as a boy so as not to attract the wrong kind of attention. Sponsored by AVADA, a project of Kiddishkayt Los Angeles aimed at the under-35 crowd, the event is expected to appeal to a multigenerational audience, with live music by Josh Kun following.6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. screenings. Live music at 8 p.m. $10. 6356 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 817-3456.


With the premiere of the third season of “Last Comic Standing,” count on returning Season 1 fianlist Cory Kahaney for new rants on men, motherhood and bringing home the bacon when your bacon-making job actually entails making bacon. The San Diego native goes up against Season 2 contestants — including Todd Glass and runner-up Gary Gulman — as she takes another shot at No. 1 starting this week.9:30-11 p.m. NBC.


Springtime in Warsaw sets the backdrop for the intertwining romances of NotEnough, a Polish short written, directed and produced by Daniel Strehlau, whoalso stars. The 30-minute piece screens tonight through Thursday at Laemmle’sMonica Theatre. 1332 Second St., Santa Monica. (310) 394-9741.


Barbara Mendes has got a lot going on — in her paintings, that is. The lifelong artist has fittingly described her busy large-canvas creations as “Epic Paintings.” Since 1992, her art has been devoted to Jewish themes, primarily from the Torah. Her “Paintings of Jewish Glory” exhibition is on display at USC Hillel through Oct. 8.9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Mon.-Fri.). 3300 S. Hoover St., Los Angeles. (213) 747-9135.


Ouds and kanoons and violins intermingle today, as the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity presents “Judeo-Arab, Andalusian Melodies.” Dr. Avi Elam Amzalag, director of Anda-El, Andalusia-Israel East West Orchestra, conducts musicians from this group, Chicago Classical Oriental Ensemble and Sultana Ensemble, with vocals by Cantor Lior El Malich of Israel and Munshid Abdelfattah Bennis of Morocco.7:30 p.m. $15-$25. Eretz-Siamak Cultural Center, 6170 Wilbur Ave., Tarzana. Tickets: (866) 468-3399, Info: (323) 658-5824.


More music today. This time, think straight up Westernjazz/blues, with a hint of the experimental. The Daniel Glass Trio performs afree concert al fresco at the One Colorado Courtyard. You’ll recognize Glass’name as the drummer for Royal Crown Revue. Helping him out are Eldad Tarmu onvibraphone and Timothy Emmons on bass. 9 p.m. Free. Pasadena, between ColoradoBoulevard, Fair Oaks Avenue, Union Steet and DeLacey Avenue.


Racist Repeats Election Stratagem

The Republican primary victory on Aug. 5 of white supremacist James Hart in Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District is eerily familiar to Southern Californians.

It seems like a page out of the 1980 playbook of Tom Metzger, the Ku Klux Klan grand dragon who won the Democratic nomination for Congress in San Diego County against the then-entrenched Republican incumbent, Rep. Clair W. Burgener.

Because the popular Burgener, a soft-spoken conservative, was considered such a shoo-in for a fifth term, no well-known Democrat wanted to oppose him. Why be a sacrificial lamb? So the campaign for the Democratic nomination started as a contest for the party privileges that go with becoming an official, albeit losing, Democratic nominee.

Insider party privileges, such as winning an automatic seat on the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee and having the right to appoint members to the Democratic State Central Committee, drew party worker Edward Skagen into the race. Bud Higgins, another political unknown, similarly was eligible for these low-profile prizes.

Metzger, better known and not yet well understood, changed the dynamics of the primary election. He received 33,071 votes, or 37.1 percent of those cast in northern San Diego County, southern Riverside County and all of Imperial County. That was enough to come in ahead of Skagen by 392 votes and to win the Democratic nomination in what was then California’s 43rd Congressional District.

Well-known Republicans in Tennessee similarly believed it pointless to challenge Democrat John Tanner in this election cycle. He is in his eighth term, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and is a leader of the so-called "blue dog" Democrats — moderates who joke that they’ve been squeezed so hard by the left and right wings of the party, they fear turning blue.

Although write-in candidate Dennis Bertrand sought to stop Hart in the primary election, Hart triumphed with more than 80 percent of the vote in a district that covers 19 counties in northwest Tennessee.

The political parties were reversed in the California and Tennessee scenarios, but the cynicism is the same.

What motivated Metzger and what now drives Hart were opportunities to get media for their message of white supremacy. The fact that we read in newspapers across the nation about the Tennessee candidate proves the publicity value of the congressional nomination.

Metzger probably didn’t expect to beat Burgener, any more than Hart really anticipates unseating Tanner. For Hart, the reward will be all the attention he can stir up for the discredited Nazi theory of eugenics — that some racial groups are genetically superior to others.

I became press secretary to Burgener’s campaign in 1980, after Metzger won the Democratic nomination. It quickly became apparent that there were two major problems with which we had to contend. The first was that news reporters thought that it was unusual, offbeat, even a matter of human interest, that a real live Ku Klux Klansman was running for office in California. It was sort of a "man bites dog" story, interesting because it was different, without much thought given to what that difference was all about.

The second problem was that Burgener didn’t want to say anything about Metzger. The congressman’s first instinct was to ignore Metzger, so as not to build a tent for his opponent.

That strategy might have worked against an unknown, but Metzger already knew how to command media attention. The task for Burgener was to define Metzger and white supremacy for San Diegans. Tanner will have a similar responsibility in Tennessee’s general election campaign.

Ultimately, Burgener came to understand that Metzger was a symbol who needed to be confronted and not simply a political opponent. The campaign got hold of a documentary film about the faces of hate, in which Metzger’s group was pictured, and in which Metzger said some intolerant things. Burgener’s campaign held a screening for the media, and Metzger and some followers thought they could make light of it by showing up uninvited in Nixon masks.

After the media heard on film the kind of hatred that Metzger and his followers spewed about African Americans, Mexican Americans and Jews, suddenly having a Ku Klux Klansman as an official Democratic nominee from San Diego didn’t seem like a human interest story anymore. Reporters demanded of Metzger whether he really believed in the hard-core hate he had been filmed spouting in the documentary, or did he believe the softer line he had been taking in the campaign?

Metzger was unmasked, and from that day until Election Day, stories focused not on how unusual Metzger’s philosophy was but on how un-American it was.

To illustrate that Metzger was outside the mainstream of American politics, the Burgener campaign adopted what it called the "Hatfield and McCoy" strategy. It found rival Democratic and Republican candidates, some of whom were long-time political enemies, and had them stand together at the same lectern to endorse Burgener.

A typical formulation was, "We never agree on anything else, but when it comes to this election, we can agree — enthusiastically. We urge everyone to reject the hatred of the Ku Klux Klan and vote for Clair."

To their credit, Democrats were willing to put aside partisan differences and urge the reelection of the Republican incumbent. In Tennessee, the test will be whether Republicans will be willing to return the compliment.

Burgener won the contest with more than 86 percent of the vote — the outcome no surprise. The Ku Klux Klan and the racist doctrine of white supremacy were dealt a resounding rejection at the polls.

After the election, Metzger went on to become the leader of the White Aryan Resistance, eventually losing millions of dollars in a court suit brought against him for instigating the beating death of an Ethiopian student in Oregon.

The leadership of our mainstream political parties meanwhile vowed that in the future, they would prevent the hijacking of their congressional nominations by extremists. For a quarter of a century, they were mostly able to keep that vow — up until now.

Donald H. Harrison is editor of the San Diego Jewish Press Heritage.

3 Minutes With Brad

Brad Pitt may have sustained an injury during the filming of his new movie, "Troy," but I sustained an injury during the viewing of the film.

With 15 minutes left of the special preview screening, I had to go to the bathroom. I had been able to hold on through at least three battles for the kingdom of Troy, but finally my bladder surrendered to an army of Diet Cokes.

Desperate not to miss the end of the film, I ran to the restroom, which was mobbed. I needed a new battle plan, so I flew up the jumbo escalator to the floor above me, ran to the empty bathroom and sprinted back down the escalator, victorious. Too bad my pant leg got caught on the heel of my boot.

The downward momentum of the steps combined with my lost footing had me toppling forward, clutching the railing. My shin slammed into the moving metal steps below me, which made for a very stylish striped bruise. I can only piece together from a forensic reading of my wounds what happened next; there’s a black and blue on my right shoulder, a few nicks on my left hip and one pant cuff that will never be the same.

Somehow, fueled by the need to catch the end of the movie so that Brad Pitt wouldn’t hate me, I righted myself before somersaulting to certain destruction below.

As I was falling, so was Troy. I got back just in time to see the city burning and feel the shin bruising, but I got the idea.

Why the hurry? Why the intense, irrational fear that if I missed a moment of the film I would be removed from the television industry and perhaps the planet? It has to do with three minutes: the three I was scheduled to spend with Brad Pitt the following day.

As part of a "Troy" press junket at a New York City hotel, I was to interview the "Sexiest Man Alive" for exactly three minutes.

The day after the screening, journalists were lined up in the hotel hallway, perusing their notes, schlepping their purses and notebooks and waiting for an audience with Brad.

When it was my turn, I tried to act normal. This is just a guy, I told myself, reaching out my hand.

"I’m Teresa with ‘Good Day Live,’" I said, as a sound guy clipped a microphone to my lapel.

"I’m Brad," he replied quietly.

Well, duh! I wanted to shout.

I talk to people for a living. And before I went pro, I had many conversations on the amateur level. It’s not that difficult.

Still, the pressure of not saying anything stupid to offend his Royal Pittness, of leaving that three minutes without a decent interview, of letting down my employer, it all got to me. In the film, Pitt plays Achilles, and my weakness was never more apparent than strolling into that well-lit room. For me, it wasn’t the deification of a celebrity that brought me down; it was the worshipping of that golden calf named perfection. Fear of failing had me blade to neck without a shield. My vision went blurry. A muscle in my neck stiffened.

I’m not sure how it went. I remember "Brad" laughing. I sensed some understandable boredom. I recall making the game-time decision to scrap my "Did you ever suffer from helmet head?" question.

By the time you read this, my interview will have aired, just another three minutes in the barrage of publicity about "Troy."

When I left Brad, competing thoughts speared my brain like angry Spartans: Brad hated me, Brad was amused by me. I couldn’t process the experience. And that’s where alcohol can be very useful.

Safely at the hotel bar with a scotch in my hand — just one, because as mediocre as I am at chatting up celebrities, I’m just as half-baked at self-destruction — I noticed another reporter swigging down her per diem. A former reality TV star, she seemed as confused and out of place as I did, but with better skin.

I wanted to corral her and start a post-junket support group.

"My name is Teresa and I doubt and dissect everything I do. The thought of turning in a sub-par performance makes me feel like there are bugs crawling all over my lungs. Is this seat taken?"

My interview, even if it had been the best celebrity suck-up in modern history, would not have healed the sick or raised the dead. I know I won’t get thrown off the planet for being bland. I know that most of us mortals spend our lives in the middle ground, doing our best, neither shattering land speed records nor standing stock-still. That’s life. It’s that muscle in the back of my neck that knows nothing.

Luckily, if I forget I’m only human, I have those bruises on my Achilles shins to remind me.

Teresa Strasser writes from Manhattan where she is a feature reporter for
Fox’s “Good Day Live.” She’s on the Web at

7 Days In Arts


Gain insight into Oaxacan culture that goes beyond mole sauce this afternoon. The Skirball’s latest in their “Cinema: A Musical Journey Through Film” series is “I Am a Butterfly,” a documentary about Mexican singer-songwriter Lila Downs that explores her Mixtec roots, and their influence on her art.2:30 p.m. Free. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.


The Neil Simon comedy “Barefoot in the Park” returns to the stage at the Long Beach Playhouse. Revisit young love through Paul and Corrie Bratter, newlyweds acclimating to life together — and to their new living quarters: a tiny New York City fifth-floor walk-up with a skylight that leaks snow and comes with some very unusual neighbors.2 p.m. (Sunday), 8 p.m. (Friday and Saturday). $18-$20. 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. (562) 494-1014.


Almost in answer to all the “Passion” controversy comes California Museum of Ancient Art’s well-timed lecture series, “Religion in the Ancient World.” In four lectures beginning tonight, moderator Jerome Berman welcomes speakers on the ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Hittite and Israelite religions, exploring the broader question of how they differ from today’s Judaism and Christianity, and offering insight into how it all began.Runs Mondays, March 1-29, 7:30-9 p.m. $60-$72 (series), $17-$20 (per lecture). Gallery Theater, Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (818) 762-5500.


Forget Purim. Passover comes early to the Arclight thisyear. Get a jump-start on the holiday spirit with a big-screen screening of thecampy-but-classic “The Ten Commandments.” It’s the movie the way it was meant tobe seen — as big as Charlton Heston’s acting, complete with six-track DolbyDigital sound, and featuring Yul Brynner in all his glued-on side-ponytailglory. 7:30 p.m. $10-$11. 6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 464-1478.



From celebrated actor, director and cabaret star to concentration camp prisoner and forced Nazi propagandist, Kurt Gerron’s career is explored through the 2002 documentary, “Prisoner of Paradise,” which was nominated for an Academy Award. It screens today as the second in a double-feature by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, following the documentary, “Last Dance,” about a dance-theater collaborative piece on the Holocaust by Pilobolus dance company and author/illustrator Maurice Sendak.7:30 p.m. Free. James Bridges Theater, UCLA, Westwood. (310) 206-3456.


Today, Yoram Gil makes fine art affordable, albeit teeny tiny fine art. Gallerie yoramgil’s exhibition, “Petite,” presents watercolor miniatures (we’re talking smaller than a postcard) by the artist and gallery owner, as well as small works by his gallery artists. His works will be offered for $36, which will be donated to Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, and 10 percent of the proceeds from the other artists’ sales will benefit the organization, as well. Attend the opening receptions today or Sunday, before the good stuff’s all gone.6-8 p.m. (March 4), 5-8 p.m. (March 6). 319 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. R.S.V.P., (310) 275-2238.


It’s back to the Skirball tonight for a meeting of art and politics. Now in the Ruby Gallery, the museum presents “Visual Politics: The Social Activism of Ben Shahn.” The exhibition is divided into four parts, tracing the progress of the socialist Jewish artist’s work from the early 1930s until his death in 1969. In that time, the graphic artist addressed concerns including (but far from limited to) the Depression, anti-Semitism, ethnic bias, worker’s rights and nuclear testing.Runs through April 18. Noon-5 p.m. (Tues.-Fri.), 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Sun.). Free. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

7 Days In Arts


With Valentine’s Day comes melodrama, though if you’re lucky it’s just in the form of Neurotic Young Urbanites’ new show, “Golden Prospects: A Los Angeles Melodrama,” which promises opium, pornography, prostitution, disfigurement, blindness, and a live on-stage pianist. Enough excitement to take your mind off the day, should that be your wish.8 p.m. (Friday and Saturday), 7 p.m. (Sunday). $20. Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica. (310) 396-3680.


We know, we know:What you really want to do is direct. Today, you at least get closer. Filmmakers Mariel McEwan and Sergio Palermo have put together 30 minutes of a projected 90-minute-long documentary titled “This Daunting Task — Conflict, Consequence and Reconciliation: A Conversation Between Germans and Jews.” They’re looking for input from the public on this first segment of the doc about post-World War II Jewish and German immigrants living in the same community. Have a say in the final cut by attending a screening and discussion today at the Workmen’s Circle.2 p.m. Free (donations welcome). 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 552-2007.


How do the Jews do it in the O.C.? They go all out. Sixteen Jewish films screen down in Orange County this week for the Pacific Jewish Film Festival. Three are documentaries by Orthodox Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, who will discuss his stealth tactics after the screenings.Runs Feb. 15-22. $6 (family programs), $11 (general). Edwards Park Place 10 and Tarbut V’Torah Theater in Irvine. (714) 755-0340. Check ahead for sold-out shows.


Points of inspiration in the University of Judaism’s Platt and Borstein Galleries’ latest exhibition include Rashi, lichens, flotsam and pastel sticks. Somehow it all comes together under the banner of “Up Close and Impersonal,” a show of works by David Schoffman, Gary Brewer, Roger Marshutz and Richard Parker. It runs through March 14.10 a.m.-9 p.m. (Monday-Thursday), 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Friday), 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Sunday). University of Judaism, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 476-9777, ext. 201.


Happy Birthday, Eddie Cantor. In honor of what would’ve been his 112th, Hollywood Heritage Museum throws him a little party. Join some of his old friends for refreshments and a screening of “Roman Scandals,” including his co-star from the film, Gloria Stuart. Also scheduled to attend are Margaret Kerry-Wilcox (“If You Knew Susie”) and Fayard Nicholas (“Kid Millions”).7:30 p.m. $5 (members), $8 (nonmembers). Hollywood Heritage Museum, Lasky-Demille Barn, 2100 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. (323) 874-2276.


Head to Long Beach today to celebrate the double-x chromosome’s contributions to society over the last century. The Long Beach Museum of Art is the sole California venue for the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition, “Women of Our Time: Twentieth-Century Photographs from the National Portrait Gallery.” On view are portraits of Helen Keller, Janis Joplin and other icons, taken by photographers like Edward Steichen, Lotte Jacobi and Arnold Newman.11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Tuesday-Sunday). Free (members, children under 12 and first Friday of the month), $4 (students and seniors), $5 (general). 2300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach. (562) 439-2119.


Distinguished at a young age for his extraordinary abilities on the piano, Leon Fleischer had to cope with focal dystonia, a debilitating condition that affected his right hand. Switching gears, he moved from performing to teaching and conducting, and eventually to working on repertoire for the left-hand alone. These days, he is back to performing both left-hand work and selected pieces for both hands. He plays an evening of Brahms at the Cerritos Center tonight, with a quartet featuring Cho Lang Lin and Daniel Phillips on violin and Gary Hoffman on cello.8 p.m. $25-$50. 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos. (800) 300-4345.

7 Days In Arts


Hip hop hooray. All the young Jews find cause forcelebration today as Latino-Jewish rappers, the Hip Hop Hoodios, grant a freeconcert at downtown’s California Plaza. Blazers and East L.A. Sabor round outthe eclectic Latin music show titled “Tres Sabores Latinos.” 7 p.m. CaliforniaPlaza, Watercourt, 350 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 687-2159.



Inspiring stories of faith are highlighted in JohnSheinfeld’s new documentary, “In the Name of Heaven,” which airs tonight on theNational Geographic Channel. Among the tales: The Mountain Jews of Azerbaijancling to their traditions and live peacefully with their Muslim neighbors; theRev. Gregory Boyle rescues East L.A. gang members by employing them; TurkishSufis preach tolerance and look inward to reach heaven; Dr. ChatsumarnKabilsingh lives life as Thailand’s first female Buddhist monk in more than1,000 years; and Dr. Veer Bhadra Mishra works to clean up the Ganges River,sacred to his Hindu religion. 9 p.m. National Geographic Channel.



Like buttah, Babs’ new four-DVD gift set melts its wayinto a Jewish mother’s heart. The set includes “What’s Up Doc?” “The MainEvent,” “Up the Sandbox” and “Nuts.” Personal commentary by Barbra Streisand, aswell as vintage documentaries, trailers and production galleries are offered onthe discs. The “What’s Up Doc?” and “Up the Sandbox” DVDs also each contain afeature-length director’s commentary. $69.92.



Rarely seen works of art by Chagall, Degas, Ingres,Matisse, Picasso and others are now on display in LACMA’s “Classic to Modern:French Works on Paper, 1800-1950, from the Permanent Collection” exhibit.Included are drawings, watercolors and pastels from the neoclassicist to thepostimpressionist periods, as well as the modern movements of the early 20thcentury. Noon-8 p.m. (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday), noon-9 p.m. (Friday), 11a.m.-8 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday). Runs through Sept. 7. 5905 Wilshire Blvd.,Los Angeles. (323) 857-6000.



Jewish husband and wife documentary producing team JaimeHellman and Barbara Leibovitz focus their cameras on the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation in the National Geographic special, “The FBI,” airing on PBS. Fromthe bureau’s crisis center to a closed-door profiling session, the team receivesunparalleled access behind the scenes of the war on terror. 8 p.m.



For those who like a Gershwin tune, “Crazy For You” plays through Sunday at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. The romantic score includes some of George and Ira’s best: “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Got Rhythm,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and “Embraceable You.” Weaving them together is an equally sweet story, and — adding kick — plenty of tap dancing.8 p.m. (Thursday-Saturday), 2 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday). $10-$45. (Box office is not located at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.) 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach (on the Cal State Long Beach campus). (562) 856-1999.


Expect to be surprised at the Ford Amphitheatre tonight. Naomi Goldberg’s L.A. Modern Dance and Ballet company doesn’t do “Nutcracker.” Rather, they take their inspiration from the eclecticism of Los Angeles, as in tonight’s performance, “Immediate States,” which fuses Mozart and hip hop, and where a dancer in a wheelchair does the tango. Goldberg also premieres a solo titled “Possessed,” with music by The Klezmatics and lyrics by Tony Kushner, inspired by the team’s 1998 collaboration on “The Dybbuk.”8:30 p.m. $12-$20. 2580 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 461-3673.

7 Days In Arts


The Yiddish Culture Club’s going on summer vacation. Before they do, catch their end of the season concert. Actor and singer Hale Porter discusses and performs Yiddish folk songs tonight — your last chance for a dose till fall.7:30 p.m. $5 (members), $10 (nonmembers). Los Angeles Yiddish Culture Club, 8339 W. Third St., Los Angeles. (310) 275-8455.


Jewish music season finale week continues today with the last in Temple Israel of Hollywood’s Nimoy Concert Series. Dr. Noreen Green conducts “Sweet Strings of the Los Angeles Symphony” featuring 18-year-old solo violinist Lindsay Deutsch. The playlist features works by recently deceased Jewish composers Leon Stein and Srul Glick, as well as classics by Ernest Bloch, Robert Strassburg and Felix Mendelssohn.3 p.m. $8-$25. 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (310) 478-6332.


Thank the American Cinematheque this week for perhaps the only reunion you won’t dread attending. “The Right Stuff” Cast and Crew Reunion takes place tonight, in conjunction with its 20th anniversary two-disc special edition DVD release on June 10. The itinerary calls for an introduction by director Philip Kaufman prior to the film’s screening. Also confirmed are actors from the film, including Dennis Quaid, Scott Glenn, Barbara Hershey, Kathy Baker and Veronica Cartwright, plus producer Robert Chartoff, pilot Gen. Chuck Yeager and astronaut Col. Gordon L. Cooper. Perhaps you’ve heard of them?7 p.m. $6-$9. The Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 466-3456.


Reading may be its own reward, but the Jewish Community Library knows a little bribery doesn’t hurt either — especially where kids are concerned. Thus, the Summer Reading Club 2003 was created. And it was good. Every kid who reads six Jewish-themed books this summer wins a certificate, a prize — and the enrichment that only a book can bring, of course.(323) 761-8648.


Erstwhile rabbi and cantor Jackie Mason brings his shtick to Los Angeles this week. For some Jewish insult comedy that’ll keep you regular, the five-performance engagement of “Prune Danish” plays tonight through Sunday. And while the sometimes dated, sometimes right-wing material is “not everyone’s taste,” as one review title emphasized, Mason’s show, and particularly his showmanship, have won significant praise in other cities and garnered a Tony Award nomination in the Special Theatrical Event category.8 p.m. (Wednesday-Saturday), 3 p.m. (Sunday). Runs June 11-15. $35-$100. Wilshire Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (213) 365-3500.


Playing hookie? Pick up fluffy page-turner “The Room-Mating Season” by Rona Jaffe on your way to the beach today. This newest novel by the New York Times best-selling author tells the story of four best girlfriends: Cady, the passionate Jewish girl; Leigh, the sensible one; Vanessa, the beautiful free spirit; and Susan, the mysterious one. The four young women share an apartment in New York City in 1963 — “Everything would happen here, whatever everything was.”E P Dutton, $24.95.


Do Friday the 13th right. Screening tonight as part of the IFP Film Festival, indie filmmaker Eli Roth’s “Cabin Fever,” is a sexy, gory, horror flick guaranteed to scare the bemoses out of you. Think sex, blood and a flesh-eating virus. Pretty much everything you want, and nothing you don’t.11:45 p.m. $10. Laemmle Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (866) 345-6337.


It’s in the Genes

Back in the 1970s, there was a major push to get Jews screened for Tay Sachs before they got married. If two parents carry the Tay Sachs gene, a child could be born with the deadly disease. The push was highly successful, but geneticists now worry the effect may be wearing off, as the number of couples who get screened for Tay Sachs has dropped, while the number of babies born with the disease seems to be on the rise.

This and other issues will be the topic of discussion at “New Frontiers in Jewish Genetics: Who Owns Your Genes?” on Saturday, Nov. 10.

Gene therapy, cloning and stem cell research are all likely to come up as panelists discuss the medical, ethical and historical background to predominantly Jewish genetic diseases, such as Gaucher, cystic fibrosis and Canavan disease.

The forum will feature Dr. Avraham Steinberg, a professor of medical ethics at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, who will examine halachic and medical issues in genetic testing, therapy and engineering. He will be joined by Dr. Lawrence Platt, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCLA; Dr. John A Barranger, from the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh; and Dr. Rena Ellen Falk, medical director of prenatal diagnosis at Cedars Sinai and professor of pediatrics at UCLA.

Sponsored by Young Israel of Century City, Hadassah of Southern California and the Health Care Professional Division of Orthodox Union West Coast, the evening is being paid for by a grant from the Genzyme Corporation, which develops diagnostic tools and therapies for genetic diseases.

Steinberg will also be the guest at Young Israel of Century City, 9317 West Pico Blvd, Nov. 9-10, addressing the congregation Friday night on the topic of being an observant doctor in Israel, and on Saturday afternoon on the topic of cloning.

For reservations for the Saturday night forum, call (310) 508-7753. For information about Shabbat at Young Israel, call (310) 273-6954. — Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Religion Editor

Beit T’Shuvah Declares Independence

After 14 years of working together, Gateways Hospital and Mental Health Center and Beit T’Shuvah have parted ways.

As of September, Beit T’Shuvah, the rehabilitation center for addiction treatment, has become an independent nonprofit entity. Now operating as a 501(c)(3) under the auspices of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Beit T’Shuvah will continue with President Warren Breslow and Founding Executive Director Harriet Rossetto continuing in their respective positions.

Located near Echo Park, Gateways Hospital and Mental Health Center had its genesis in the Jewish community, stemming from the Jewish Committee for Personal Service more than 80 years ago. Since 1987, when the hospital undertook the Beit T’Shuvah program, Gateways’ mandate has been to serve the community at large, said Ken Weinberg, Gateways director of community relations.

Beit T’Shuvah’s decision to leave the Gateways fold was an amicable decision in the works for several years, said officials at both institutions.

Breslow and Rossetto, through Friends of Beit T’Shuvah, raised nearly $5 million to purchase and refurbish the West Los Angeles facility last year. The treatment center now accommodates more than 100 residents, up from the 29 serviced at its original downtown Los Angeles Lake Street address.

According to Rossetto, the approach to fundraising will remain the same at Beit T’Shuvah. Solicitations for donor support will continue, and Beit T’Shuvah’s annual benefit dinner, held each January, will continue in 2002 with a tribute to philanthropist Annette Shapiro. Last year’s dinner brought in $500,000.

The treatment center will remained unchanged in terms of programming, location and personnel and, except for the hiring of a business administrator, the only difference will be on paper. — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

The Power of ‘Schindler’

To mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, KCET and other PBS stations will broadcast Steven Spielberg’s "Schindler’s List" at 8 p.m. April 19 and 21.

The 8 p.m. screening April 21 will be followed at 11:30 p.m. by the 90-minute documentary "Schindler."

On April 20, the actual date of the Yom HaShoah observance, KCET will join Yahoo to host an on-line Web chat with Holocaust survivors. Also participating will be Doug Greenberg, president and CEO of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which has videotaped the testimonies of more than 50,000 survivors worldwide.

The Web chat will be carried on and at noon.

Spielberg won two of seven Academy Awards for "Schindler’s List" as best director and for best picture. He will speak about the work of the Shoah Foundation during two intermissions in the film, which is more than three hours long. He will also dedicate the KCET telecast to the memory of Leopold Page, who died March 9 in Los Angeles.

The untiring persistence of Page, who was No. 173 on Schindler’s original list, is credited with persuading first author Thomas Keneally to write the book "Schindler’s List" and then Spielberg to make the movie.

Ben Kingsley, who played Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern in the movie, commented on the continuing intense interest in the 1993 film and others on Holocaust themes in a phone call from his home in England.

"The Holocaust was utterly incomprehensible and can never be explained or understood," Kingsley said. "In spite, or because of that, we must keep questioning the inexplicable, we must insist on telling the story again and again."

Also honoring Yom Hashoah is the Sundance Channel, which will present the following four films on Holocaust themes, two shorts and two features, during the evening of April 18:

"Night and Fog," directed by Alain Resnais, at 8 p.m.

"Raw Images from the Optic Cross" by Karl Nussbaum at 8:30 p.m.

"Europa, Europa" by Agnieszka Holland at 9 p.m.

"Angry Harvest," also directed by Holland, at 11 p.m.


In Roger Hanin’s semi-autobiographical film, “Soleil” (1997), 13-year-old Meyer is kicked out of school for being Jewish in Vichy North Africa. It is a sign that things have changed for his family in Algeria, where Jews had peacefully lived for centuries amid the Moslems. Now, Meyer’s communist father must go into hiding; his mother, Titine (Sophia Loren), must raise her children alone, charming black marketeers into giving her food. She manages to talk authorities into keeping Meyer out of jail when he is caught writing anti-government graffiti.

“Soleil” will debut here at the Director’s Guild on Oct. 28, the gala opening of the second annual Los Angeles Sephardic Film Festival, sponsored by the Sephardic Educational Center. Like all 13 of the festival shorts, features and documentaries, “Soleil” emphasizes the ethnic diversity of Sephardic Jews.

The festival continues on Nov. 3, 5 and 8 with films such as “Novia Que Te Vea,” about the courtship of a Sephardic boy and an Ashkenazic girl in Mexico City after World War II; the documentary “The South: Alice Never Lived Here,” in which Greek-Bulgarian filmmaker Sini Bar David revisits her Jaffa Sephardic neighborhood; and “Zohar,” about the Israeli music superstar, Zohar Argov, who committed suicide in 1987.

The screenings will take place at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills and at the Laemmle Town Center in Encino; there also will be a filmmakers’ seminar on Nov. 8 at the Music Hall. For a festival schedule and information, call (310) 441-9361. *

“Soleil” with Sophia Loren will debut at the Los Angeles Sephardic Film Festival on Oct. 28.

Film Screenings

Makers of short films routinely encounter the difficulty of getting their movies seen by an audience greater than their parents, cast and crew. But the makers of “Visas and Virtues”have had better luck than most.

Director and star Chris Tashima and producer Chris Donahue recently accepted the Academy Award for best live-action short for their story of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who,with the help of his wife, defied his government’s orders and issued transit visas to thousands of Jewish refugees in 1940 Lithuania. His actions resulted in the saving of more than 6,000 lives and an estimated 40,000 descendants.

“Visas and Virtues” will screen on Saturday, April 4,and Sunday, April 5, at 10 and 11 a.m., at Laemmle’s Sunset 5Theater, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. A 15-minute question-and-answer period with the filmmakers will follow each screening. Call (213) 848-3500 for theater information.

A Legend Live and On Screen

Science-fiction buffs take note: Author RayBradbury will join Cinewomen Writers Group and UCLA in thepresentation “Interweaving Truth and Art: Making Stories Come toLife,” featuring a screening of François Truffaut’s 1967adaptation of Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” Bradbury will speak, pre-and post-screening, and will be available to sign copies of hisworks, which also will be sold at the event. Wednesday, April 8, 7:30p.m., at the Melnitz Auditorium on the UCLA campus. (Park in Lot 3,corner of Hilgard and Wyton.) For information, call (310) 855-8720,ext. 5.

Revival House Pick


The New Beverly Cinema will present two excellent double features: Woody Allen’s “Deconstructing Harry” and “Husbandsand Wives” (his last film with former mate and new mother-in-law MiaFarrow) will screen on Friday and Saturday, April 3 and 4. A GeneKelly double bill of “Singin’ in the Rain” and “On the Town,” bothdirected by Stanley Donen, plays Sunday, April 5, through Tuesday,April 7. At 7165 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. Call (213) 938-4038 forshow times.

Celebrating the French and Chaplin


“Perfect Love,” one of the Los Angeles premieres at theCinematheque this month.

The American Cinematheque continues its series, “Fast Forward:Recent French Filmmaking 1986-1998,” with a salute to directorOlivier Assayas, several stateside and Los Angeles premières,and a collection of recent short films featuring KristinScott-Thomas, Jean Reno and Emmanuel Salinger.

Sixteen features in all will screen, including seven by Assayas,perhaps best known to U.S. audiences for “Irma Vep,” released earlierthis year.

The festival runs on weekends through Jan. 31. All screenings areheld at the Charlie Chaplin Theater at Raleigh Studios, 5300 MelroseAve., Hollywood. Call (213) 466-FILM for complete programinformation.

Speaking of Chaplin, the Los Angeles County Museum of Artcontinues its month-long salute to the comic legend with a screeningof “The Gold Rush,” Saturday, Jan. 17. The film is probably mostfamous for the classic scene of Chaplin’s Tramp eating his shoe fordinner. “Gold Rush” will screen with live musical accompaniment byRobert Israel. Preceded by a program of shorts, beginning at 7:30p.m. At LACMA’s Bing Theater, 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Call (213)857-6010.

* The “Contemporary Documentary” series continues with “Round Eyesin the Middle Kingdom,” filmmaker Ronald Levaco’s