Edward S. Finkelstein HBG Jewish Film Festival Opens Virtually On June 28th

By Julie Sherman

It’s not what we expected for our 2020 outing, but then again, so far, much of 2020 has not been what any of us expected.

The Edward S. Finkelstein Harrisburg Jewish Film Festival begins its maiden virtual voyage on Sunday, June 28th, streaming our 2020 season directly into your homes - via your computer, laptop, phone, or - with a bit of fiddling - onto your TV (more on that in a moment.

Here are the nuts and bolts:

Continuing through the month of July, the Festival will premiere ten pictures, two per week, on Sundays and Wednesdays, at 6pm.  Each film will be available to watch at your convenience for 24 hours, until 6pm the following night.

On Mondays and Thursdays, at 7pm, you’ll have the opportunity to gather – virtually, via Zoom - with the Film Festival committee, as well as with your friends and fellow Festival fans, to discuss the movies you’ve just seen, or to take part in our incredible guest speaker events.

The virtual Festival, in its entirety, is completely free of charge.  All that is required is that you register on our website (www.hbgjff.com) with a valid email address, in order to receive the film links and Zoom invitations as they are sent.   We ask you NOT to forward these links on to friends or family; instead, please direct everyone to our website, where they can register and receive the links themselves, also entirely for free.

As our sheltering-in-place has continued, a lot of us are becoming more “tech-savvy” – it seems that necessity has become a great motivator as we’ve striven to keep ourselves occupied and entertained.  “Zoom” has become a verb, and many of us, of all ages, have begun to use the Zoom app – or are already using it regularly - to stay in touch with family and friends.  Some of us are old hands at streaming operas, concerts, and movies from our laptops or phones to our TVs.

And then, there are the rest of us. 

So here are a couple of tips to take along our shared learning curve:

As long as you have an internet connection, you will be able to access the Festival films on your computer or your laptop.  But the quality of your experience is going to be dependent on a number of things, first and foremost, the strength of your internet.  If, when watching a film, the image freezes and a swirling circle appears and persists in the middle of your screen, it is likely that your internet connection needs to be upgraded – call your internet provider.

If you wish to watch the pictures on your TV, you will need to connect your laptop to the television with an HDMI cable, or “cast” the film to your TV with the Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast apps.  We’ve provided tips for this on our website, but our best tip is:  at your earliest opportunity, ask your kids, grandkids, or the millennial down the street to help you set it up, to avoid frustration or disappointment when the Festival series begins.

You may also contact Festival committee member Barry Gordon, whose business, www.SeniorTechTutor.com, revolves around just these issues. He can be reached at: Barry@SeniorTechTutor.com.

And now, the fun part:

The 10 films we’ve chosen for our summer series are described on page [     ] of today’s Community Review, and in more detail on our website.  In each upcoming issue of the Community Review, we will feature the pictures premiering during that fortnight; for now, a quick spotlight on our first two films.

We’ll begin on Sunday, June 28th with Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles, a joyful and tuneful ode to one of the great musicals in Broadway history, and a show that has found a home in cultures around the world.  Watch the film, and join our Zoom discussion on Monday, the 29th, with your thoughts about the film and perhaps about what Fiddler on the Roof has meant to you.

Our second offering, on July 1st, is a truly extraordinary documentary, Picture of His Life.   Described by Ha’aretz as “The Old Man and the Sea, Hollywood-style,” the film chronicles the Arctic journey of preeminent marine wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum to assuage, finally, his decades-long obsession with photographing a polar bear under the water.

It is with great excitement that we can announce that Amos Nachoum himself will be with us via Zoom at 7pm on Thursday, July 2nd, along with the film’s co-producer-director, Dani Menkin.   Please join us for a conversation with them both.  

In the weeks to come, we will share with you some beautiful dramas that explore different aspects of the European Jewish experience during the Holocaust.  We have laugh-out-loud comedies in store too, as well as thoughtful and inspiring documentaries that will stay with you for a long while to come, and guest speaker events that you won’t want to miss. 

We look forward to sharing it all.  Again, please visit our website for more information as well as to register for the Festival; if you have additional questions, please email us at festivalinfo@hbgjff.com.

See you (virtually) at the movies!