In its 15th year, the 2019 Columbus Jewish Film Festival is featuring a range of films about the Jewish experience.
Presented by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus, the festival began Nov. 3 and continues through Nov. 17 at Columbus venues that include the JCC, 1125 College Ave.; the Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St.; the Ohio State University Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St.; Crosswoods Cinema, 200 Hutchinson Ave.; and the Lincoln Theatre, 769 E. Long St.
When selecting venues, the JCC considers sites that have drawn a number of attendees in previous years, as well as locations that have the potential to attract new movie buffs, festival director Emily Schuss said.
"It's nice to reach out to different neighborhoods. New Albany, this is our third year there," she said, referring to the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts, which played host to the festival's opening screening of director Eric Friedler's documentary "It Must Schwing! -- The Blue Note Story" on Nov. 3. "This year, we're screening at Marcus Crosswoods (near) Worthington. This is the first time we've been there."
The Crosswoods Cinema will hold a screening of the Israeli comedy/drama "Shoelaces," directed by Jacob Goldwasser, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13. The film tells the story of how an aging father and his adult son with special needs learn to navigate their complicated relationship and support each other.
The festival includes another Israeli film that explores a rocky father-son relationship, the Oscar-nominated "Footnote." The film, which portrays the rivalry between two academic scholars who happen to be related, will be shown at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Wexner Center.
The "Footnote" screening will include an appearance by the film's director, Joseph Cedar, which the JCC is presenting in partnership with JewishColumbus as part of the 70 Faces of Israel Speaker Series. The annual speaker series brings Israeli expert speakers to Columbus to shed light on little-known aspects of Israeli society and culture, according to the JCC website.
JewishColumbus is a partnership of the Columbus Jewish Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Columbus.
The festival is marking 15 years of presenting international films and related programming that reflect the diversity of Jewish experiences, according to the festival's mission statement: "By pushing the boundaries of what is considered Jewish and taking the festival outside of the walls of Jewish institutions, the festival opens a window that invites sharing in the richness of the Jewish heritage and experience."
The inclusion of question-and-answer sessions during screenings, especially with those involved in filmmaking, helps put the themes of the movies in context and boost attendance at the festival, Schuss said.
"It definitely helps people draw people in," she said.
This year's festival also features, for the second consecutive year, the Andrew Ethan Stern Short Film Competition. The JCC invited filmmakers ages 18 to 40 at all levels of expertise to submit films related to Judaism or the Jewish experience.
The winner, who will receive a $1,500 grand prize, will be announced at the festival's closing screening of "Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles," directed by Max Lewkowicz, at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Lincoln Theatre.
This year, "we opened it up to the whole country, not just Ohio," Schuss said. "We did a whole lot more submissions from all over. We've picked the top four. We're going to show them throughout the film festival."
The four to be featured are: "Mark," which was presented Nov. 6 at the Drexel; "Pirate," to be shown at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Drexel; "Boxes," scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Drexel; and "Say What!: A Geriatric Proposal," scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Lincoln.
Tickets for many screenings are $10 for JCC members and seniors and $12 for all others, both in advance and at the door. Tickets for the closing film presentation are $25 and should be purchased by Sunday, Nov. 10.
For tickets and more information, go to columbusjcc.org/film-festival.