Embassy of Israel
May 2018

Israeli Culture in DC, MD, VA
One of the largest and most respected Jewish film festivals in North America, the Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF) is an international exhibition of cinema that celebrates the diversity of Jewish history, culture and experience through the moving image.
The 28th Festival lights up screens throughout the DC metropolitan area from May 2-13, 2018
OPENING NIGHT: Wednesday, May 2
Sammy Davis, Jr: I've Gotta Be Me
7:00 PM -- EDCJCC
Dir. Sam Pollard | 100 min
Documentary | United States | 2017 | English | DC Premiere
Sammy Davis, Jr.’s career was indisputably legendary; so vast and multi-faceted that it was dizzying in its scope and scale. And yet, his life was complex and contradictory.
Davis strove to achieve the American Dream in a time of racial prejudice and swirling political change. He was the veteran of increasingly outdated show business traditions; he frequently found himself bracketed by the bigotry of white America and the distaste of Black America; and he was the most public Black figure to embrace Judaism, thereby yoking his identity to another persecuted minority.
Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me explores the life and art of a uniquely gifted entertainer whose trajectory blazed across the major flashpoints of American society from the Depression through the 1980s.
Thursday, May 3
Let Me Hear Thy Voice
Dirs. Mili Ben Hayl and Tamar Shippony | 48 min
Documentary | 2017 | Hebrew with English subtitles
After generations of silence, more and more women dare to give their own musical interpretation to ancient Jewish texts—a territory previously known only to men. Let Me Hear Thy Voice unravels an intimate conversation with four talented female musicians—Alma Zohar, Victoria Hanna, Maureen Nehedar and Lea Avraham—who open their hearts and speak about their personal experiences, inspiration, femininity, and Jewish roots.
Featuring beautiful musical segments, the film dives into an ancient space that is still ever-changing.
7:30 PM -- AFI
Dir. Yehonatan Indursky | 90 min
Narrative | Israel | Hebrew w/ subtitles | N. American Premiere
From the creator of Shtisel, and the producers of The Kindergarten Teacher and The Women’s Balcony, comes an intimate exploration of lives at the fringes of Bnei Brak’s ultra-Orthodox community.
Nahman drives beggars to affluent homes, and coaches them to spin tall tales that inspire generosity—he gets a cut of the take, and keeps a record of their stories. He wiles away the rest of his night with questionable members of his pious society in makeshift casinos and dining halls.
When his wife suddenly leaves, Nahman is faced with the responsibility of taking care of his nine-year-old daughter alone. 

Saturday, May 5
Israel: Stories of Modern Days
12:30 PM -- EDCJCC
Dirs. William Karel and Blanche Finger | 53 min
Documentary | France | Hebrew w/ subtitles | US Premiere
Ten renowned Israeli writers shine a spotlight on Israel 70 years after its founding. Their work echoes the issues their country faces: the conflict, the weight of the past, the Zionist project, religion, the army, and social tensions.
Featuring interviews with literary giants such as Amos Oz, David Grossman, and Avraham B. Yehoshua, this fascinating documentary offers an original and subjective portrait of Israel, using literature as a means to comprehend geopolitics.
Don’t Forget Me
12:30 PM -- E STREET
Dir. Ram Nehari | 87 min
Narrative | France / Germany / Israel | Hebrew w/ subtitles | North American Premiere
In Ram Nehari’s auspicious narrative-film debut, he pulls from the sensibilities of Silver Linings Playbookand Little Miss Sunshine, but filters these stories through a sharp-edged dark humor—peeling back their pop gloss to reveal an earnest warts-and-all look at headstrong characters struggling with mental illness.
Tom dreams of being a model and suffers from an eating disorder. Neil is a tuba player who plans for his European tour while being treated at a psychiatric clinic. Recognizing themselves in each other, they forge a tender and desperate bond in this clever, satirical, and incisive film.
12:30 PM -- BETHESDA
Dir. Asaf Saban | 80 min
Narrative | Israel | Hebrew w/ subtitles | Sneak Preview

Director Asaf Saban’s impressive and sensitive first film dives right into the deep end—taking on an Ingmar Bergman-worthy tale of a couple whose fraying relationship is set against the construction of their dream home.
Tel Aviv inhabitants Gili and Yaara decide to leave the city for a fresh start in the countryside of the Galilee. As house construction progresses around them, family, professional, and money troubles gnaw at their union’s very foundations. Equal parts grounded realism and poignant allegory, Outdoors is an unmistakable accomplishment and a most auspicious debut.
2:00 PM -- EDCJCC
Dir. Eliav Lilti | 87 min
Documentary | Israel | Hebrew w/ subtitles | US Premiere
Ephraim Kishon was one of the great writers who shaped the Israeli essence through their work. Over 50 years, Kishon published dozens of satirical columns, books, plays, and films. He sold millions of books and was nominated twice for the Academy Awards. Yet he could never write his own biography. At the age of 70, he invited college journalist Yaron London to assist him in unfolding his life story.
Kishon uses animation to breathe life into the author’s persona and reenact the rare dialog, alongside intimate interviews, rare footage, and 8mm home movies.
Touching the Sky
2:30 PM -- E STREET
Dirs. Ilanit Bauman, Enav Shenhar, Idan Shavit, Tamar Tal-Anati | 65 min
Documentary | Israel | Hebrew w/ subtitles | World Premiere

Female Israeli soldiers have had the right to apply to flight school for over 20 years. But only a few have earned their wings, with the issue of gender still a contested topic for cadets, officers, and society-at-large.
During the first six months of flight school, Touching the Sky follows the young women from their first day at the academy through the ruthless cuts—some will stay the course, but many will have to leave.
The Museum
Dir. Ran Tal | 65 min
Documentary | Israel | English, Hebrew w/ subtitles | Mid-Atlantic Premiere
A striking account of Israel’s most important cultural institution that explores the Israeli soul through the galleries, storerooms, and visitors of the Israel Museum. The documentary eschews the dry formula one might expect for such an undertaking however— managing to unpack the mysteries inside with a refreshing humor and frankness totally unexpected in a film of this nature.
We follow singing security guards, blind patrons, and the Haredi kashrut inspector—characters who are given screen time alongside thoughtful curators, Palestinian guides, and the American museum director.
Screenings followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Ran Tal
Back to Berlin
Dir. Catherine Lurie | 76 min
Documentary | World Premiere
An epic journey that marries biker-flick and Holocaust documentary. In 2015, the European Maccabi Games (aka the Jewish Olympics) were held in Germany for the first time since WWII at the Waldbühne Stadium, site of Hitler’s infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics.
We follow eleven Israeli motor-bikers carrying the Maccabi torch from Tel Aviv to Berlin, retracing the tracks of early 1930s riders who set out from the British Mandate of Palestine to all corners of Europe spreading the word about the first Maccabi Games.
Screenings followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Catherine Lurie and producer Rosa Russo.
The Cousin
Dir. Tzahi Grad | 92 min
Narrative | Israel | Hebrew w/ subtitles | Mid-Atlantic Premiere

Naftali, an open-minded Israeli, begins to question his liberal convictions when the Palestinian day laborer he hires is accused of a heinous crime against a local teenage girl. As rumor and innuendo catch fire, the local media personality—whose reality TV project promotes Jewish-Arab dialogue—is at first stringent in his defense of Fahed, but soon finds himself contending with an inner racism he finds hard to shake.
A brilliantly conceived and executed dark comedy, The Cousin landed actor-writer-director Tzahi Grad a Best Actor award at the Haifa Film Festival.
The Impure
7:00 PM -- E STREET
Dir. Daniel Najenson | 69 min
Documentary | Argentina / Israel | multi-lingual w/ subtitles | Mid-Atlantic Premiere

Thousands of Jewish women were brought to Argentinian brothels from Eastern Europe in the early 20th century. Their pimps, also Jewish, were dubbed “impure” and publicly shamed by the mainstream Jewish community. So were the unfortunate women.
Through his own family story, director Daniel Najenson unveils the complex relationship between the predominantly Jewish organizations behind the booming prostitution industry and the rest of the Jewish community, while drawing crucial connections to the modern-day struggle against human trafficking and the fight for sex workers’ rights.
Co-presented by Embassy of Argentina
Dir. Oded Raz | 105 min
Narrative | Israel | Hebrew w/ subtitles | DC Premiere
Guy Amir and Hanan Savyon, the acclaimed writers and stars behind Israeli TV mega-hits including ScarredAsfur, and Ma Bakarish, play chummy partners in crime in this hilarious, politically incorrect caper comedy, which they also wrote.
“Maktub” means fate, and the destiny of these two small-time enforcers for a Jerusalem mob radically changes when they survive a suicide bombing. They decide to take their future into their own hands, redeeming themselves by fulfilling strangers’ prayers. In keeping with their delinquent ways, however, the prayers have been stolen from the Holy City’s Wailing Wall.
The Promised Band
Dir. Jen Heck | 89 min
Documentary | USA | multi-lingual w/ subtitles | DC Premiere

The story of a fake rock band comprised of Israeli and Palestinian women who decide that—despite their limited artistic ability—a music group offers them a useful cover under which to meet and interact.
Aided by a naïve but well-meaning American director Jen Heck, the unlikely musicians cross all manner of borders: the physical and walled off, the societally–defined, and most of all, the personal. An inspiring and humanizing look at a conflict that appears a touch less intractable when confronted through an individual, female, and open lens.
Ticket sales are now open for the general public. Please note that day-of ticket sales are only available at the door (space permitting). An on-site Box Office will open one hour prior to the start of the first screening at that venue. If an event sells out, there will be a Rush Line and tickets will be released if they become available. All Saturday daytime screenings are pre-sale only in observance of Shabbat. If you need help using our online ticketing system please view our Step-By-Step guide or fill out the Website Support Request Form if you have an inquiry.
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