It's rare to find a documentary set in the Middle East that isn't mired in politics and discord. Rarer still is one bathed in the kind of optimism and goodwill found in Beth Elise Hawk's new film, Breaking Bread. An inside look at a three-day food festival in Haifa, Israel, pairing Israeli and Muslim Arab chefs, Breaking Bread pursues peace through the power of creating top-notch cuisine.
As 2021 draws to a close, it's a good time to reflect on the year in Jewish film and highlight six worthy of your attention. Two of the films here are from first-time filmmakers, another pair are Holocaust documentaries, and the final duo draw their tales from the past. Here is my list of the best Jewish films released in the U.S. in 2021.
"Becoming Dr. Ruth" carefully and quite literally unpacks the turbulent early years of Dr. Ruth Westheimer -- Holocaust survivor, single mother, and eventual superstar sex therapist. At the same time, this one-woman show starring Tovah Feldshuh celebrates the possibilities of America, while never quite letting go of the past.
Rabbi Jack Riemer
Most of the 90 poems in What Remains (Ben Yehuda Press) grew out of David Curzon's experiences as he has wandered over the face of the earth. Some are touching recollections of precious moments in his life. Some are reflections on what he has learned by standing before great works of art from different centuries and different continents. Some are conversations with people in his life who meant the most to him and who are no longer among the living. And almost every one of them is a gem.
Fresh off a nomination for best documentary at the Ophir Awards, the Israeli equivalent of the Oscars, Maya Sarfaty's new film, Love It Was Not, brings to American audiences the real-life tale of a love affair between a Jewish prisoner and her Nazi SS officer.