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Brooklyn Israel Film Festival hits new heights

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The land of milk and honey isn’t resistant to curdling. That much will be apparent Thursday when the Kane Street Synagogue kicks off its fourth annual Brooklyn Israel Film Festival, which will introduce Brooklyn movie-goers to an assortment of award-winning, eye-opening films that will challenge one’s views of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. “Every year, the quality of films that we put into the festival gets better and better,” said Sara Porath, co-director of the festival. “Each year we find stories that will stay with you and make you think – something you would want to discuss.” These films explore the multi-faceted nature of life in Israel,” she said. “They’re not the typical viewpoints of the country that we’re all accustomed to.” Porath said that the clearest example of this will be found in “Someone to Run With” on February 2, the second night of the festival. Based on the best-selling novel by David Grossman, the coming-of-age story follows the adventures of the teenager Assaf as he tries to find the owner of a stray dog that he has located. What would appear to be an innocuous task quickly turns into a suspenseful journey into Jerusalem’s dark underbelly, complete with a number of intriguing characters that will never be found on a city brochure. “It’s a movie that at one point you think everything is great on the outside, but all of these things are going wrong underneath the surface,” Porath said. “Someone to Run With” is also an award-winning film, netting the Israel Ofir awards (their version of the Academy Awards) for best director, best actress and best supporting actor. The film was nominated in six other categories, including best picture and best screenplay. The drama will be book-ended by two engaging documentaries, said Porath. The festival will begin on January 31 with “Souvenirs,” in which director Shahar Cohen investigates suggestions that his feisty 82-year-old pop may have fathered several other children during his time with the Jewish Brigade during World War II. It seems that while most soldiers were taking Nazi rugers and flags, old Sleiman Cohen was leaving souvenirs with all of the women he had met during the Great War. But we’re not talking knick-knacks. We’re talking knock-ups. Armed only with a camera and a broken-down car, father and son retrace the route of the Jewish Brigade during World War II in the hopes of finding a few of these souvenirs. Knowing that the last night of the festival coincides with Super Bowl Sunday, organizers decided to show “Watermarks,” the story of the champion Jewish women swimmers of Hakoah, Vienna. Filled with interviews with the former athletes as well as a reunion at the pool in the legendary Jewish sports club, the film documents the team’s struggles under Nazi rule as well as their escape from Europe. Over 20 Jewish films were viewed before the final three were chosen, said Porath, adding that each movie upholds the synagogue’s reputation of holding “one of the most intelligent film festivals in the city” – an accolade first coined by The Jewish Week. Discussions with film experts, as well as some of the filmmakers, are scheduled to occur after the movies. All three movies will be held at the Kane Street Synagogue, 236 Kane Street between Court and Clinton streets. “Souvenirs” (January 31) and “Someone to Run With” (February 2) starts at 8 p.m. “Watermarks” (February 3) will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 per film, $25 for the entire series. For more information, one can contact the synagogue at (718) 875-1550 or log onto www.kanestreet.org.

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