A short-film competition open to local filmmakers and a sneak peek at an Israeli television series are among the new features at this year's Columbus Jewish Film Festival.
The festival kicked off Nov. 4 and continues through Nov. 19 at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus, 1125 College Ave., and various locations throughout central Ohio.
"We're now in more venues than ever before," said Emily Schuss, the festival's coordinator. "It just shows how the film festival has spread. It used to be contained on the East Side (of Columbus). It's starting to grow and develop audiences in other communities."
This year marks the first time the Columbus Jewish Film Festival has held the AES Short-Film Competition. The event is held in memory of Andrew Ethan Stern, an Ohio native, businessman and humanitarian who died in 2014.
The AES Short-Film Competition was open to Ohio residents ages 16 to 40 who submitted short films in any genre relating to the Jewish experience. The winning films were chosen by a panel of film industry experts from across the nation.
The winners will be announced at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 18 at the Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St., prior to the festival's short-film program. The winning film will be shown on the festival's closing night at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the McCoy Center for the Arts, 100 W. East Dublin-Granville Road in New Albany. The winning filmmaker will receive $1,800 and the second-place finalist will receive $500.
The screening of the 2018 Israeli television series "When Heroes Fly" will be held at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St. The drama-thriller, set in Israel and Columbia, follows four war veterans of Israel's Special Forces unit who reunite for one last rescue mission.
"It's an award-winning TV series," Schuss said. "The Cannes Film Festival started a TV series competition and this won out of all the entries. It will debut on Netflix in January."
Also during the festival, the JCC will host a screening of the documentary "Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George's Creators" at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11. The documentary chronicles the journey of Hans and Margaret Rey from Germany to the United States.
"The creators of 'Curious George' escaped the Holocaust on their bicycles with the manuscript for 'Curious George' in the basket of their bicycles," Schuss said.
The JCC Children's Department will offer Curious George-themed stories, arts and crafts and other activities for children during the screening.
"We're trying to attract a younger audience," Schuss said. "The adults can see the documentary and the kids can do something fun."
Another youth-oriented activity that will take place during the festival is a "for teens only" screening of the film "Once in a Lifetime" at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at the JCC, sponsored by the Columbus Jewish Youth Foundation. Rabbi Michael Emerson, director of the Wexner Foundation's Wexner Service Corps, will lead youth in a discussion about anti-Semitism in contemporary high school and college environments.
"It's for young Jewish teens to discuss anti-Semitism," Schuss said. "We wanted to give them a forum where they can discuss anything they might be encountering."
The festival will conclude with a screening of "Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel" at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the McCoy Center for the Arts. The film charts the journey of Israel's national baseball team, competing for the first time in the World Baseball Classic. Director Jeremy Newberger and Team Israel pitcher Josh Zeid will participate in a question-and-answer session with the audience after the screening.
"It's a really inspiring story," Schuss said.
For a complete list of screenings and more information about the Columbus Jewish Film Festival, visit columbusjcc.org/cultural-arts/film-festival.