In year five, Jewish film festival expands to eight cities

Last modified: 4/5/2013 10:12:04 AM
From screenings in a handful of synagogues to multi-city, Hollywood-style events, at its fifth-year anniversary the New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival has grown bigger than even organizers expected.

This year’s festival will feature 10 films over 11 days in eight cities across the state, including Concord, Hanover, Keene, Manchester and Portsmouth, among others.

The series is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire, a Manchester-based, nonprofit social service agency affiliated with the Jewish Federations of North America (which represents 157 Jewish Federations and 400 independent Jewish communities).

“I think we started out small, we’re a volunteer organization,” said Linda Gerson, the co-chairwoman for the festival. “From really humble beginnings, we were just trying out to see how it would work, and with each new year we had more support from the community and general public. And we were bringing great films. So it’s just been a building process as we’ve moved along.”

The federation has always had a film festival, Gerson said, but originally it was a handful of films that would play in temples. But when Executive Director Jeff Fladen came on board, he made the decision to make the event more professional and to take it statewide, Gerson said.

“We started spreading out to more cities,” Gerson said. “We have a festival in Hanover, last year we expanded to Keene and this year instead of doing one film, they are doing three. . . . And this year for the first time we’ve expanded to Portsmouth, so that’s been really exciting. So every year we’re trying to expand out to new areas of the state.

“It just seems to be on a good growth pattern,” she said.

Kicking off the festivities today will be a special preview event at the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire. The night begins with Hava Nagila (The Movie), a documentary that chronicles the origins of the song and in doing so uses it as a springboard to explore Jewish history and identity and to spotlight cross-cultural connections only achieved through music. The film features interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Regina Spektor among others.

The film will be followed by the Raymond Street Klezmer Band and birthday cake for all who attend. As for the official opening night, which will be Saturday, the feature film will be Paris-Manhattan, a comedy about a thirtysomething pharmacist living her life based on Woody Allen’s film philosophies. Guests will walk the red carpet and have festival keepsake photos taken by federation “paparazzi.” The event will be followed by a Café de Paris French Dessert and Wine Reception at Bedford’s SERESC Event & Conference Center.

The Festival closes April 14 with Jews In Toons, featuring Mike Reiss, a writer for The Simpsons.

For ticket information, show times, venues and a full lineup of films and programs, visit

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