Please join us once a month for a FREE documentary film screening.
Special thanks to our SPONSORS, who enable us to screen these films free to the public.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP or for sponsorship information
Special thanks also to the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture for supporting our documentary film series and other
fine arts and culture programs.
Why are there so many Jewish comedians? When Comedy Went to School answers this question with an entertaining portrait of this country's greatest generation of comics – the generation that includes the likes of Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Jackie Mason, Mort Sahl, and Jerry Stiller, all of whom make appearances in the film, telling jokes and telling their stories. The answer is also found in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains, aka the Borscht Belt, where Jewish immigrants transformed lush farmland into the 20th century's largest resort complex. Those Catskill hotels and bungalow colonies provided the setting for a remarkable group of young Jewish-American comedians to hone their craft and become worldwide. 77 min.
Tuesday, February 7th at 7pm (SOLD OUT)
Lost Town (2013)
(Sponsored by Sharon and Joe Luber)
'Lost Town' tells the story of one man's obsessive search to get closer to his deceased father by uncovering the story of his family's hometown of Trochenbrod. First made famous by Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated, Trochenbrod was the only all-Jewish town to ever exist outside of Palestine. Trochenbrod's 5,000 Jews were obliterated by the Nazis, except for 33 townspeople who escaped the massacre there. This personal search triggers a resurgence of interest in the town and reconnects the few remaining survivors who hadn't seen each other in over 60 years.
Lost Town utilizes contemporary documentary footage, original animation, and survivor testimonials to tell the story of how far one will go to claim their sense of identity. 85 min.
Tuesday, March 14th at 7pm (SOLD OUT)
Bonus Screening: Wednesday, March 15th at 7pm (Seats Available)
Streit's: Matzo and the American Dream (2015)
(Sponsored by Sandy and Lee Shedroff)
In the heart of New York’s rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side stand four tenement buildings that have housed the Streit’s Matzo factory since 1925.
An iconic New York institution and a fifth generation family business, the Streit’s factory and the Streit family itself have long held firmly to tradition, churning flour and water into matzos through ovens as old as the factory itself.
Though the factory seems a century removed from the world around it, even Streit’s was not immune from the forces that challenge manufacturing and family businesses everywhere. In a new and changing Lower East Side, where kosher butchers and grocers gave way to high-end restaurants, bars and apartments, Streit’s finally closed it doors after 90 years. Streit’s Matzo and the American Dream is a story of tradition, of resistance and resilience, and a celebration of a family whose commitment to their heritage and to their employees is inspiring proof that the family that bakes together, stays together. 83 min.
Would you risk your life to save a stranger and never talk about it? My Italian Secret tells the story of sports idol Gino Bartali and other courageous Italians who carried out ingenious schemes to rescue Jews, partisans and refugees from Nazi-occupied Italy. Gino Bartali is a sports legend; but his most daring triumph came when he risked his life over and over to save Jews threatened by Nazi extermination.
The story of Bartali and the secret network he worked with stands in for the stories of thousands of Italians who risked their lives to save others from capture and death. As an entire continent was engulfed in a genocide (which took the lives of most Jews in Nazi occupied Europe - nearly 6 million people), more than 80 percent of Italy's Jews survived. Bartali, like most of the rescuers, never sought recognition or reward. Few of those he helped knew his name or what role he played in their rescue. 92 min.
Inventing Our Life examines the 100 year history of Israel's kibbutz movement, one of the world's longest running and most successful experiments in communist social organization. Recreating its glorious past and chronicling its recent decline, Inventing Our Life focuses on the heartbreak and hope of the modern kibbutz, as a new generation struggles to insure its survival. Can a radically socialist institution survive a new market-driven reality with its ideological integrity intact? How will this affect the lives of the tens of thousands of people who still believe in the kibbutz experiment and continue to call it home? As the film progresses, the drama shifts from can it survive to yes, but at what price? 79 min.
Tuesday, June 6th at 7pm
Minyan in Kaifeng (2002)
(Sponsored by Susan and Mark Sendrow)
The last rabbi of Kaifeng died well over a century ago, and today's descendants of the ancient Chinese Jewish community have never celebrated Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest. Now two curious families have invited a modern group of Jewish travelers into their homes, leading to a reunion one thousand years in the making. Minyan in Kaifeng shows this unique journey and the unexpected meeting of cultures through the eyes of modern travelers from Australia, China, Israel, and the United States. It is a story of ancient Diaspora, of old dangers and newfound wisdom.
Leonard Nimoy narrates this modern story and the history of the Jews of Kaifeng, which begins in ancient Persia and evolves over a thousand years in the heart of the Middle Kingdom. For Jew and non-Jew alike, Minyan in Kaifeng asks us to examine the relationship between our individual communities and unique identities. 74 min.