The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival

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Through a vision of “Inspiring communities to new levels of social and cultural understanding,” and a mission to “Entertain and engage diverse audiences with film through a Jewish lens,” the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) is the largest film festival in the state of Georgia and extends its global outreach as the largest Jewish film festival in the world.

The annual, 23-day festival is a national and international platform to showcase cinematic work of Jewish artists through film and focuses on culture, history, and life in Israel. The celebration takes place during winter months at multiple venues across Metro-Atlanta and demonstrates the impact of film through education and entertainment. The AJFF confronts mainstream perceptions on multifaceted and challenging matters facing the Jewish communities, specifically where these issues intersect with communities here in Atlanta and around the world. Drawing nearly 40,000 moviegoers to the Atlanta area, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival continues to grow exponentially in attendance, audience, diversity, and sponsorship.

The Atlanta Regional Office of American Jewish Committee (AJC) founded the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in 2000. The AJC is “a global advocacy organization that enhances the wellbeing of the Jewish people and Israel through education, outreach and diplomacy.” It is a support organization that’s goal is to ultimately enhance the wellbeing of the Jewish community and shed light on Jewish history and culture by concentrating on both challenges and complexities that Jewish peoples often face. Drawing a focus on commonalities with communities locally and abroad through the power and collective experience of film, the AJC and AJFF nurture relationships between the Jewish community, and Atlanta’s diverse cultural, ethnic and religious populations. The AJFF is currently an independent non-profit organization that continues a functional partnership with the founding organization, the American Jewish Committee.

The 2018 festival (January 24 – February 15), presented 75 feature and short films exploring and showcasing the Jewish experience. Taking place at a host of locations across Metro-Atlanta area, the AJFF began the annual celebration at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. Audiences are hosted by theaters that partner with the AJFF such as United Artist Tara Cinemas, Regal Atlantic Station, Regal Hollywood 24, Regal Perimeter Pointe and The Springs Cinema & Tap-house for the duration of the festival. Ticket prices are comparable to mainstream blockbuster movies, with the exception of special events presented by the AJFF. Tickets can be purchased online at goelevent.com, (the ticketing provider for AJFF,) or at AJFF box offices located near venues and during event hours with ticket sales accounting for 20 percent of AJFF’s annual revenue.

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival supplements the moviegoer experience by presenting guest speakers at select screenings. A diverse variety of directors, filmmakers, authors, critics and other experts engage with the audience before and after screenings. Highlighting two of over 20 speakers included Gilbert Gottfried, stand-up comedian and actor, and Yossi Ghinsberg, Israeli explorer and author. Ghinsberg, who was lost a Bolivian jungle for three weeks, lived to tell the tale. The memoir was turned into a movie, titled Jungle, starring Daniel Radcliff. It is a story of a thrilling battle for survival with nature and psyche. The movie is currently on Netflix.

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is comprised of a committed full-time staff that spends the off-season making AJFF the best possible experience for the wide range of sponsors, contributors, festival and moviegoers alike. Working alongside the full-time staff are 200-plus volunteers that assist in every aspect of the festival from marketing and operations to development and fundraising, as well as assisting with select ongoing annual programs. Kenny Blank, son of Atlanta business tycoon Arthur Blank, serves as the organizations executive director.

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, again a cultural celebration that exhibitions outstanding world cinema while “using the power of film to spark dialogue and promote understanding.” The organization maintains a presence and involvement within the Atlanta community year-round. AJFF support programs throughout the year continue entertain, engage, and educate diverse audiences and enhance the festival with year-round experiences.

One of those programs is “Cinebash.” In June of 2018 the AJFF put on a first-of-its-kind film party that “will blend art installations, food, music, dance, and other elements for an immersive and multisensory experience celebrating the cinema arts.” This year’s Cinebash was themed around the work of graphic designer Saul Bass, recognized for his work on motion picture title sequences. Title sequences are the sound, visuals, and text during the opening credits that establish the tone and setting of the movie. Popular title sequences Bass worked on were Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Psycho, as well as movie posters for Exodus, The Shining and West Side Story.

Another support program the AJFF offers to the community is “AJFF Selects.” It is a series of special feature screenings of new foreign and independent films that brings the same caliber of films supported by the festival to audiences year-round. These screenings present expert speakers and guest filmmakers as well. AJFF announces films, dates and venues on their website.

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival recently established the Icon Award. This award highlights and brings attention to exemplary artists and industry professionals, for contributions to the cinematic arts. The Icon Award emphasizes commemorates those have upheld the tradition of artistic excellence in film of Jewish relevance.

In October the AJFF is partnering with Emory University to present a mini three-day version of the festival. The mini-fest will feature favorites from the AJFF film catalog, guest-speakers, and an opening night reception. The festivity will be open to faculty, staff, students and general public. The AJFF also offers unpaid internships where students have the opportunity to work alongside staff during a regular workweek. The internship allows students to gain on the job experience in film exhibition, film distribution and acquisition, arts marketing and communications, as well as program and event planning.


Cite this paper

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. (2021, Aug 13). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-atlanta-jewish-film-festival/

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