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.
This is the main Russian competition showcasing Jewish documentary films, which tell real stories from lives of diasporas on different continents, reflect an outside look into lives of those communities, share footage of real-life events that happened recently as well as archival recordings.
Films in this program are short authorial investigations of the past, the present and the future, creative explorations of reality that are based on real-life footage and historical events.
The Jury chooses the best films in this category by viewing experiments of young filmmakers, short narratives and animated films - all of them no more than thirty minutes long.
OUT OF COMPETITION PROGRAM
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 award of the MJFF is called the Key to Discoveries. The statuette symbolizes the place of the Jewish culture at the intersection of interaction between different countries and nationalities.
The Jury awards the Key to Discoveries in the following categories:
- Best Film
- Best Documentary Feature
- Best Short Film
- Best Documentary Short Film
- Jury Prize (can be awarded to any picture that is part of the competition by Jury’s choice)
The Public Council of the Festival also awards the Honorary prize "For outstanding contribution to the development of the Jewish cinema in Russia".
Since 2015 the family of producer Yakov Kaller (1946–2017) have been giving out the special Yakov Kaller Award to the best Russian Jewish-themed film.
The Educational Program is a platform for self-education, creative and social initiatives, as well as for pleasant conversations between viewers of all nationalities and religious beliefs with filmmakers or experts in various areas. As part of our Educational Program, we try to answer the question about what is it that makes Jewish cinema unique? While the festival itself introduces audiences to films from all around the world, the Educational Program, that encompasses lectures, workshops and discussions, teaches how to understand the language of Jewish films, introduces their viewers to history and culture of the Jewish people, and helps distinguish the major tendencies and opportunities of today. All educational events can be attended by the Festival’s audiences free of charge.
The educational program is organized with the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
You can read the Rules and Regulations of the Moscow Jewish Film Festival here.