The National Center for Jewish Film is an independent, non-profit film archive, distributor and exhibitor. The Center, housed at Brandeis University, owns the world’s largest collection of Jewish-content film. Its unique collection includes silent, vaudeville and Yiddish films, newsreels, institutional films, and home movies; the earliest dating back to 1903. The Center’s priority is the rescue of rare and endangered film materials and it has restored hundreds of films that document the diversity and vibrancy of Jewish culture. The dynamic films selected for the NATIONAL CENTER FOR JEWISH FILM SHOWCASE are representative of the breadth and depth of the collection’s holdings.
- #1 – Raise the Roof – Rivaling the greatest wooden architecture in history, the synagogues of 18th-century Poland-the last of which were destroyed by the Nazis-inspired artists Rick and Laura Brown to embark on a 10-year pursuit to reconstruct the elaborate roof and painted ceiling of the Gwo Y dziec synagogue. Aided by a team of 300 artisans and students, the show-stopping building was realized and beautifully photographed film chronicles this ambitious project, they had done more than reconstruct a lost synagogue; they recovered a lost world. “How often do you get a chancel to reach deep into history and bring something back?” – Rick Brown. Raise the Roof has enjoyed a wildly successful film festival run, screening at more than 150 film festivals and winning six Best Documentary Awards. The “Raise the Roof” project has received wide press coverage, including in The New York Times, New Republic, The Boston Globe, CNN, Tablet, Forbes. Airs on WXXI on March 19, 2018 at 9:00 pm (Hour and a half long program)
- #2 – Carvalho’s Journey – A real-life 19th century American western adventure story about Solomon Nunes Carvalho, an observant Sephardic Jew born in 1815 in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1853, traveling with John Fremont’s 5th Westward Expedition through Kansas, Colorado, Utah and California, Carvalho became one of the first photographers to document the sweeping vistas and treacherous terrain of the far American West. Living alongside mountain men, Native Americans, and Mormons, Carvalho overcame enormous odds to produce beautiful art: daguerreotypes that became the lens through which the world experienced the West. The film interweaves stunning HD digital and 16mm film landscape cinematography, rare 19th century photographs, Carvalho’s surviving artwork and daguerreotypes, and interviews with scholars and artists, including modern day daguerreotypist Robert Shlaer who recreates Carvalho’s original daguerreotypes on location. The documentary is narrated by award winning actor Michael Stuhlbarg (Boardwalk Empire, Steve Jobs) with original music by Jamie Saft (composer, Murderball). Airs on WXXI on March 20, 2018 at 8:00 pm (Hour and a half long program)
- #3 – Ahead of Time: The Extraordinary Journey of Ruth Gruber – For seven decades foreign correspondent and photojournalist Ruth Gruber didn’t just report the news, she made it. Born in 1911 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Ruth Gruber became the youngest Ph.D. in the world before becoming an international journalist at age 24. A fearless trailblazer who defied tradition to become the eyes and conscience of the world, she was the first journalist to enter the Soviet Arctic in 1935, traveled to Alaska as a member of the Roosevelt administration in 1942, escorted Holocaust refugees to America in 1944, covered the Nuremberg trials in 1946, and documented the Palestine-bound Haganah ship Exodus in 1947. Her relationships with world leaders, including Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, and Israel’s Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, gave her unique access and insight into modern history.
Airs on WXXI-TV on March 20, 2018 at 9:30 pm (Hour and a half long program)
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