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Now showing: Annual Bklyn Israel Film Fest

The inspiring depiction of a dreamer who refused to be defined by his physical limitations is the centerpiece of the Third Annual Brooklyn Israel Film Festival. Beginning on January 25 at the Kane Street Synagogue, 236 Kane Street between Court and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, festival organizers promise “three nights of thought provoking and award-winning films.” The documentaries, encored by discussions led by either the filmmaker or other noted speakers include “The Ashkenazim,” on January 25, “Out of Sight” on January 28 and “39 Pounds of Love” on January 27, which has been coined as an emotional roller coaster but “truly inspirational ride through life with someone who embodies the very term Carpe Diem. Winner of the Israeli Academy of Film and Television 2005’s Ophir Award for Best Documentary as well as honors from film festivals in Palm Beach, Tahoe, Reno and Atlanta, “39 Pounds of Love” depicts the store of Ami Ankilewitz, a 34-year-old Texas native who lives with a rare form of muscular dystrophy that has shackled him to a wheelchair. His condition only allows him to have movement in one part of his body – the finger on his left hand. But despite this, Ankilewitz hasn’t let these limitations stop him. Now living in Israel, Ankilewitz works as a 3D animator, outliving every doctor’s expectation that he wouldn’t make it until his 30th birthday. He also speaks three languages, sports a Harley Davidson tattoo and enjoys hanging out with his friends at the local pub. “Ami is pretty much an ordinary guy except for the fact that he communicates with a “Madonna” style microphone and, even though he’s in his mid-thirties, weighs only 39 pounds,” according to the documentary’s press notes. “He continues to redefine notions of a limited life.” The film, a road-trip of sorts, is Ami’s journey to find the doctor who predicted his early demise. “The doctor thought I wouldn’t make it to the age of six,” Ankilewitz said. “He just didn’t take into account that I have a soul of a Harley Davidson.” During the journey, Ami attempts to come to terms with another lifelong dream: To finally ride an actual balls to the wall Harley. Producer and director Dani Menkin has been scheduled to speak following “39 Pounds of Love.” During his frank discussion, Menkin will tell the audience how he met Ankilewitz as he worked as a director for National Geographic and how Ari changed his outlook on life. “One night after work I went with a blind date to a bar,” Menkin explained in a website testimonial. “I was sitting at a table with my date and was distracted by something I saw in the corner of the bar. It looked like a plastic doll. But, when I looked again I was shocked to realize it was a real person in a wheelchair. Surrounded by his friends and this beautiful girl, Ami was drinking his beer thru a straw.” “At this moment I was no longer interested in my date, so I went over to meet him,” he said. The rest was history. The heartwarming tale will be flanked by “The Ashkenazim,” described as a humorous tale of a group of young Israelis who, as the old song goes, “looking for their Ashkenazi roots in all the wrong places” and “Out of Sight,” a compelling drama about a blind woman who uncovers the secrets behind her best friend’s suicide. “Out of Sight,” which received best director nods of the 2005 Israeli academy awards, is for mature audiences. Discussions following “The Ashkenazim” will be led by Dr. Itzak Gottesman, Associate editor of the Yiddish Forward, organizers said. “The Ashkenazim” and “39 Pounds of Love” are scheduled for 8 p.m. on January 25 and January 27 respectively. “Out of Sight” is at 7 p.m. on January 28. Advance tickets for all three movies is $25. Door ticket prices are $10 for each movie. Anyone wishing to know more about the Third Annual Brooklyn Israel Film Festival can either call the Kane Street Synagogue at (718) 875-1550 or visit their website at

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