Can an ex-con find redemption by coaching an upstart Orthodox Jewish baseball team?
Humor hits a home run over bigotry and self-doubt in The Yankles, a heart-warming film that opens the CAJE Miami Jewish Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 22, at the University of Miami’s Bill Cosford Cinema.
A washed-up former pro player is sentenced to mandatory community service, and soon discovers that the only people willing to give him a second chance are equally desperate yeshiva students on a quest to start their own baseball team.
“The lineup of films scheduled for the opening weekend at the Cosford, have a thread of commonality that reveals modern history as seen through the eyes of young people,” said Ellen Wedner, festival director. “The feel-good comedy, The Yankles, uses humor to challenge tradition, while other films balance tolerance, identity and family issues to create powerful and poignant stories.”
Inside Hana’s Suitcase is a mystery told through the voices of children from Japan, Canada and Czechoslovakia. It begins with the delivery of a battered suitcase to the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center, and follows the center’s quest to find out about Hana Brady, a name painted on the case.
As the information unfolds, the young storytellers chronicle 60 years of history, and weave the past to the present. The film is recommended for age 10 and up. A special discussion follows the screening.
The Israeli film Eli and Ben tells the story of a mischievous 12-year-old who is preoccupied with playing tricks on his teachers and on his crush, who is the most popular girl in class. His life abruptly changes when his father, Ben (actor Lior Ashkenazi, Late Marriage, Walk On Water), the city architect, is arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes. Eli is certain of his father’s innocence and sets out to convince the police inspector in charge of the investigation, that his father is wrongly accused.
“An Arab, a Jew, a Chinese and a Philippine walk to school…” — sounds like the beginning of an old joke, but that is not the case. In the Israeli documentary, World Class Kids, these are some of the second-graders at a school in the heart of Tel Aviv.
Following these students for one year, the atmosphere in the classroom becomes volatile as the Gaza War upsets the social dynamics. With poignant intuition and uninhibited directness that is unique to 8-year-olds, the children point out basic conflicts in Israeli society, deal with painful identity issues, and experience the first cracks in their childhood naiveté.
Berlin ’36 is inspired by the true story of Jewish high jumper Gretel Bergmann and replays a remarkable piece of forgotten Olympic history. Bergmann was considered a top contender for the gold medal during the Nazi controlled 1936 Summer Games. However, the Americans threaten an Olympic boycott if Jewish athletes were barred from competing.
To the Nazis having a Jewish athlete on the Aryan team would be intolerable, so they conspire to replace her with an über-athlete, who years later is revealed to be a man. The film explores the tenuous friendship between two outsiders who find themselves in unimaginable circumstances.
The festival continues through Sunday, Jan. 30, with films screenings at the Regal Cinema South Beach and the Sunrise Cinema Intracoastal Mall.
Tickets for the CAJE Miami Jewish Film Festival, except for opening and closing nights, are $11, general admission; $9, seniors/ students, and $7, Film Society members. A $118 Fast Pass provides entry into all films. Film Society members receive discounts on tickets and Fast Passes and advance festival ordering.
This program is presented with the support of the City of Coral Gables.
For complete movie listings and to purchase tickets, log on to www.miamijewishfilmfestival.com or call 1-888-585-FILM (3456).