November 11, 2019

Opening Night at Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival

Last Thursday night I was thrilled to attend the Opening Night Gala of the 14th Annual Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival. I arrived a bit early at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills, site of the evening’s festivities. It’s a lovely theatre in Beverly Hills. I bounced around taking pictures, nibbling treats from Factor’s Deli, and waited excitedly near the red carpet area. Soon the guest of honor arrived, Peter Bogdanovich, the famous director of The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon, and many other outstanding, award-winning films. He was awarded the Marvin Paige Hollywood Legacy Award later in the evening. Next it was time to sit down in the theatre where Hilary Helstein, Festival Director, opened the festival. She remarked that that very day was Holocaust Remembrance Day, very fitting timing.

She introduced Peter Bogdanovich, who recounted some amusing stories from his Hollywood experiences, including doing drop-dead imitations of both Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart.

Afterwards, the film Carl Laemmle premiered, by writer/director James Freedman, also in attendance. This film is a fascinating true story of the incredibly influential Carl Laemmle, who founded Universal Studios, produced hundreds of films, and was instrumental in creating the film industry that we know and love today. Even more remarkably, Mr. Laemmle also rescued over 300 families from Nazi Germany. Some of the descendants were in attendance at the festival. A fascinating story, highly recommended to anyone interested in the history of Hollywood and also the tireless efforts of Mr. Laemmle in helping hundreds escape oppression.

After the screening, writer/director James Freedman had a lively discussion with Stan Taffel, an actor and President of Cinecon Classic Film Festival about his film. Carl Laemmle is making the film festival rounds now and will be distributed this fall for general release. Mr. Freedman is also the director of Glickman, about the noteworthy athlete and sports broadcaster.

The Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival is a well-curated, highly recommended festival that runs now through May 9th. Tickets and more information are available here: lajfilmfest.org. Lots more photos from the event are available on my Flickr page here: flickr.com/photos/joybennett.

I will also be attending the film Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog on Saturday, May 4 at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills. If you should spot me there, come up and say shalom!