For three thousand years, the Jewish people have been scattered around the world. That is why Jewish cinema is created in many different countries, alongside with special festivals that select and showcase those films. The Jewish Film Festival® in Moscow became the first of its kind in Russia. It was founded in 2015 and has been held annually ever since.
What is the Jewish cinema, after all? It encompasses far more than films made by Jewish directors or films which star famous Jewish actors. The never-ending search for Jewish identity, assimilation of diasporas and philosophy of self-determination and separation of the Jewish people in a society, return to the past, glorification of national heroes and mourning of victims, challenges of today’s world and the problem of relevance and preservation of traditions - these and many other issues attract filmmakers of all countries and continents. By searching and selecting the best Jewish films during the course of the past year we have attempted to shape an answer to the question of what these rapidly changing ethnic-themed films really are. Moscow, a large metropolitan area, a place where many cultures and nationalities live side-by-side, is one of the world’s most fitting locations for a festival that represents a dialogue of national communities.
The MJFF holds screenings of the most important and resonant Jewish films of the latest years. At the centre of the Festival is the Feature Films Competition Program, which is complemented by screenings of documentary films, short films and documentary shorts (as part of either competition programs or special screenings), as well as by discussions with experts on different topics raised in films and critics who specialize in Jewish cinema.
The best narrative feature films on Jewish themes released during the past year, which have not been screened in Russia before. The main program of the Festival.
The competition program of the Festival screens the best documentary features, documentary shorts, and narrative short films. They tell real stories about life of the diaspora on every continent, introduce short authorial investigations of the past, the present, and the future, experiments of young authors, short narrative sketches and animated films.
Out of Competition
Out of Competition Program at the MJFF includes films that did not become part of its competition programs; Russian premiers of high-profile films that explore Jewish themes, questions of multinational peace, tolerance, and intolerance; and experimental works of different kinds and genres. It includes special and retrospective screenings.
The Prize of the Festival is the Key to Discoveries. The statuette symbolizes the place of the Jewish culture at the confluence of the interaction of diverse countries and nationalities.
The Jury Awards the Key to Discoveries to films in the following competition categories:
- Best Film
- Best Narrative Short Film
- Best Documentary Feature Film
- Best Documentary Short Film
- Jury Prize (awarded by Jury members to a film that took part in the Festival Competition Programs)
The Public Council of the Festival awards the Honorary Award For the Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Jewish Cinema in Russia.
Besides, since 2015, family members of producer Yakov Kaller (1946–2017) have been presenting the Special Award named after him For the Best Russian Jewish Film of the Year.
Anti-Zionism as a set of views should have turned obsolete the moment the United Nations General Assembly Resolution of 1975, which condemned Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination, was cancelled — at least outside the Arab countries. The collapse of the Soviet Union should also have contributed to it since anti-Zionist beliefs were part of its foreign policy paradigm, often rhymed with everyday Antisemitism.
But the ideological and practical opposition to Zionist goals is alive and thriving in the United States, Europe, and, curiously enough, Israel. As a result, this theme inevitably finds its reflection in cinema. The Special Program of the 7th Moscow Jewish Film Festival will present three such films — a contemporary Palestinian work, a Jewish documentary, and an archival Soviet picture. Watching those films, we will try to understand the phenomenon of anti-Zionism and how it influences the representation of the Jewish people on screen.
Certifying films as kosher is not something that has been attempted before — as a rule, it is inferred that they are not. Nonetheless, we decided to conduct this experiment and select films screened in all sections which will be compliant with Kosher Style standards — with the help of our Film Mashgiach, producer Avraham Vitkin, who has received classical Jewish education in Moscow and Jerusalem yeshivas. Those are the works that do not show any intentional sexualisation of a human body, aestheticize cruelty, or cultivate the breaking of the commandments. All films at the Moscow Jewish Film Festival, starting from 2021, are marked Kosher.
The Educational Program of the Festival is created with the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group.
This is a platform for self-education, for creative and social initiatives, and for enjoyable conversations between viewers of any nationalities and religious beliefs with filmmakers and experts in various areas of knowledge. Our Educational program enables its participants to seek answers to the question: What is so unique about the Jewish cinema? While the Film Festival itself introduces its guests to films from all over the world, the Educational program teaches — through lectures, workshops, and discussions — to understand the language of the Jewish cinema, introduces viewers to the history and culture of the Jewish people, helps to anticipate the major trends and possibilities of the modern times. All educational events are free for the Festival audiences, as well as free for attendance.
The Festival is organized by the Ark Foundation for Support and Development of the Jewish Cinema.
Ark Foundation for Support and Development of the Jewish Cinema was established in order to develop Jewish culture, preserve history, promote ideas of humanism, tolerance, and equality through the language of filmmaking. To achieve these goals, the Foundation creates and distributes cinematographic works and organizes film-related events.
Zerem.tv Streaming Platform
In 2020, the Festival team launched the first Jewish streaming platform in Russia, Zerem.tv. As part of the 6th MJFF, 34 feature and documentary films from the Festival program became part of the Zerem.tv library and were available for free screening during the Festival week.
Today zerem.tv is developing the first Russian film library with works on Jewish themes and creating the collection of archival Jewish films.
The catalog of the 7th Moscow Jewish Film Festival can be found by clicking on the «Catalog» button.
Rules and Regulations
Rules and Regulations of the Moscow Jewish Film Festival are available at the link below.