What do you get when you cross a rabbi and a Mormon with a couple of Hispanic cattle ranchers? It sounds like the opening line of a bad ethnic joke, but what you get is a film by Chuck Davis called Kosher Valley, one of the many fine documentaries being screened over the next week as part of the third annual Lenore Marwil Jewish Film Festival.
Sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit and the Detroit Jewish News (as well as many other individuals and organizations), this year’s festival has expanded to offer more than 25 features and documentaries, as well as animated and short films.
Kosher Valley finds the small independent ranchers of the San Luis Valley in Colorado being squeezed out by the larger factory ranches. That’s when rancher Olive Valdez conceives of the idea of forming a kosher co-op to increase the value of their meat. With Mormon Clair Hull as manager, the personable and articulate Rabbi Meyer Kurcfield (the first Jew most of these folks have ever met) arrives on the scene to show them how it’s done.
The documentary Daring to Resist, narrated by Janeane Garofalo, tells the stories of three young Jewish women who fought back against the tyranny of the Third Reich. Faye Schulman was already an accomplished photographer when the Nazis descended on her hometown in Poland. After witnessing the slaughter of her entire family, she took to the woods and joined a group of Russian partisans. Even as she learned how to nurse the wounded, perform surgery, ride a horse and use a gun, she continued to take photographs, developing and printing by the campfire at night.
The mystery The Giraffe stars Maria Schrader as an aloof femme fatale adrift in New York, and a smoldering Dani Levy as the black sheep of an observant Jewish family. They find themselves embroiled in a noirish, convoluted plot whose origin extends back into the Nazi era, only to explode violently in the present.
Other films on the agenda include The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, the comedy A Fish in the Bathtub starring husband-and-wife team Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, the Israeli film Yana’s Friends, and Vittorio De Sica’s classic The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, as well as many more.
Sunday, April 29 through Sunday, May 6 at the United Artists Theatres (14 Mile and Haggerty Road, Commerce Township). Call 248-788-2900 for tickets or 248-661-7649 for information/brochure.
E-mail Deborah Hochberg at email@example.com.