The Indianapolis Jewish and Israeli Film Festival is an event that celebrates the diversity of Jewish and Israeli films, entertains, educates and sheds light on the impact of Jews on the human condition. Founded by Robert Epstein, the festival combines feature-length film presentations around the city with debates with filmmakers and Jewish and other local religious leaders. It also offers a new, thought-provoking version of each film, beyond the usual screenings. The festival is held annually from May 3 to 10 at various venues such as churches, schools, libraries and theaters.
It has been recognized with several awards such as the SIGNIS Jury Award, Religion Today Film Festival (201), Audience Award, Maui International Film Festival (201), best feature film voted by the public, Chicago Israeli Film Festival (201), Best Actor: Makram Khouri, Israel Academy Awards (201), Audience Award, Coachella Valley Festival Festival (200), Best Direction, Best Cinematography, Bavarian Film Awards (2000), Best Screenplay, German Film Awards (2000), German Film Awards (2000) Golden Lady Harimaguada, Las Palmas Film Festival (2000) Guild Film Award - Gold, Guild of German Art House Cinemas (2000) OCIC Award - Honorable Mention, Mar del Plata Film Festival (199).The highlight of the festival is the screening on January 22 of The Levys of Monticello, a documentary directed and produced by Steven Pressman. Other films featured in the festival include Robbie Benson's 1981 movie The Jewish Film, a story about clashing cultures and parents and children within the Jewish faith. The festival also includes Docs Without Borders Film Festival (201), Indy Film Fest (201), Best Documentary Short Film; Sedona International Film Festival (201) Mitákuye Oyás'i (Film Inclusion Award), Central States Indie FanFilmFest (201), Indy Shorts International Film Festival (201), Circle City Film Festival (201), Merit Award, Special Mention; Accolade Global Film Competition. The Indianapolis Jewish Film Festival is devoted to recognizing and presenting great films that reflect Jewish tradition and the impact of Jews on the human condition. It is also committed to encouraging an understanding of Israeli and Jewish culture, as well as introducing viewers to Israel's young but flourishing film industry.
To accomplish this goal, festival organizers have consulted with people from the Heartland Film Festival and the Indianapolis Arts Council for advice on how to deal with common challenges such as getting the rights to screen movies, getting sponsors and finding places for screenings. Bob Epstein brought together a group of people from Congregation Beth Shalom to select nine finalists from 80 titles. The films are chosen based on various considerations such as awards and nominations, current topics and contributions from the film community. Last year's festival attracted more than 1,000 spectators and this year's founder is hoping to exceed that number. The festival also features a special screening of Jenni Berebitsky's story about her battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). At 33 years old she had been married for two and a half years, had a 15-month-old son and had just finished her residency as a naturopathic doctor when she was diagnosed with ALS.
The screening of her story is meant to inspire viewers to never give up hope. The Indianapolis Jewish and Israeli Film Festival is an inspiring event that celebrates Jewish culture while introducing viewers to Israel's young but thriving film industry. It offers an opportunity to explore thought-provoking films while engaging in debates with filmmakers and religious leaders. The festival provides an opportunity for viewers to gain insight into different cultures while enjoying entertaining films. It also serves as a platform for filmmakers to showcase their work while engaging in meaningful conversations about their films. By attending this event, viewers can gain a better understanding of Jewish culture while being entertained by some of the best films from around the world.