South Charlotte

11th annual Charlotte Jewish Film Festival to be held Feb. 14-March 2

The 11th annual Charlotte Jewish Film Festival will be held Feb. 14-March 2.

The festival will feature 14 foreign and domestic films that include documentaries, dramas, romantic comedies and action thrillers.

“What’s great about the film festival is that we are able to bring such a wide variety of films to Charlotte that normally would not be shown here,” said CJFF co-director Benjamin Schwartz.

On Feb. 11 at the Levine Jewish Community Center, Sam Lerner Center at Shalom Park, the CJFF will offer a free screening of “Side Dishes: A Night of Short Films.”

On Feb. 14, the official opening night, the festival will show “Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love.”

“This film ties in perfectly with Valentine’s Day,” said Schwartz, 45, who lives in Myers Park. “It’s an interesting look at his career and a fun film to get things started.”

The first five films will be shown at Temple Israel, and the nine remaining films will run at Regal Ballantyne Village Stadium 5. Three of the films also will be shown on separate Mondays at the Regal Birkdale Stadium 16 in Lake Norman.

Additional CJFF events will include:

• Two special events for teenagers in the High School Outreach Program: a “talk back” with producer Nancy Spielberg, sister of filmmaker Steven Spielberg, on Feb. 15 and 16.

• Participation in Central Piedmont Community College’s Sensoria literary festival April 12 with a screening of “AKA Doc Pomus,” Fan Appreciation Day in the summer and “FallFlicks.”

When asked which film would he recommend, CJFF co-director and Cottonwood resident Rick Willenzik, 59, said, “That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child.”

Willenzik did, however, eventually single out “Deli Man.”

“What’s more American than eating, and who doesn’t love great deli food?” he said. “The film uses the story of one third-generation deli man to tell the story of how delis became so popular in this country and how scarce true delis have become today. It’s really terrific.”

After the Feb. 15-16 showings of “Above and Beyond,” the audience will have a chance to talk to Nancy Spielberg about the film and then attend a dessert reception.

“Above and Beyond,” directed by Roberta Grossman and produced by Spielberg, is a documentary about a group of Jewish American pilots who, in 1948, “smuggled planes out of the U.S., trained behind the Iron Curtain and flew for Israel in its War of Independence,” according to the CJFF website.

The festival has grown tremendously since its inception as a two-film event at the Light Factory in 2005.

In 2014, the festival grew to 18 films and 21 events with more than 3,800 tickets sold. It also has achieved its goal of year-round programming, with a Fan Appreciation Day in July and “FallFlicks,” a film series in collaboration with the Levine-Sklut Judaic Library in November.