The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee
Just Reel Films Series Launches in January
This free, monthly series will showcase Jewish-themed films in different venues throughout the Sarasota-Manatee region.
(Sarasota-Manatee) Film fans, rejoice! There’s a new film series in town—just in time for the new year. Just Reel Films, sponsored by Ian Black Real Estate in coordination with The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, is a new monthly film series that starts in January. The series is free, but audience members are encouraged to bring cans of food, toys and school supplies, which will be donated to such community organizations as All Faiths Food Bank, Toys for Tots, Food Bank of Manatee, and Title 1 schools. Films will be shown in different venues throughout the Sarasota-Manatee region, including libraries, churches, synagogues, and community centers. There is a limit of two tickets per attendee and all attendees must RSVP at https://jfedsrq.org/reel19. For more information about Just Reel Films, contact Jeremy Lisitza at 941-343-2113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rosann Black, the chair of the Just Reel Films selection committee, says the films are all Jewish-themed. “Some are biographies of great entertainers who have given us moments of joy, laughter and creative inspiration,” she says. “Others are educational and will stimulate awareness of the history of the Holocaust and the emergence of the state of Israel. Others will touch on how racism and prejudice impact lives and communities.” Black has chosen 13 films for the 2019 season. The schedule, below, includes nine of the films; four others are in the process of being scheduled.
2019 Film Schedule:
- “50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. And Mrs. Kraus” Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus never intended to become heroes. But in early 1939, as conditions were worsening for Jews living inside Nazi Germany, the Philadelphia couple embarked on a risky and improbable mission—an effort to rescue 50 Jewish children and bring them to safety in the United States. David Milberg, the son of one of the survivors, will be on-hand for a Q & A after the film. (January 14, 6:30 p.m., Beatrice Friedman Theatre, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota.)
- “The Last Days” In late 1944, even as they faced imminent defeat, the Nazis expended enormous resources to kill or deport over 425,000 Jews during the “cleansing” of Hungary. This Oscar-winning documentary, executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, focuses on the plight of five Hungarian Jews, who later became U.S. citizens, after having survived imprisonment in Auschwitz. Though these survivors recount the horrors they witnessed and endured, their individual triumphs are a testament to hope and humanity. (February 12, 4 p.m., Temple Sinai, 4631 S Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota)
- “Who Do You Love” The life story of legendary record producer Leonard Chess, founder of Chess Records, the label that helped popularize blues music during the 1950s and ’60s. Jonathan Mitchell, a local entrepreneur and one of the producers of this film, will be on-hand for a Q & A following the film. (February 26, 6:30 p.m., Beatrice Friedman Theatre, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota)
- “No Place on Earth” In 1942, Esther Stermer, the matriarch of a Jewish family in the Ukraine, along with some family members and other families, seek asylum underground to evade being caught by pursuing Nazis. They remain hidden below for nearly a year and a half—the longest recorded uninterrupted underground survival occurrence. Their story is unearthed by accident when cave explorer, Chris Nicola, stumbles upon remnants left behind by the cave dwellers. (March 28, 1:30 p.m., Braden River Branch Library, 4915 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton)
- “Sammy Davis Jr. I Gotta Be Me” The film is based on the 1965 Davis memoir “Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr.,” penned by Burt Boyar with Davis and his wife Jane. Davis’ life is rich source material. Born in Harlem to a pair of vaudeville dancers, he joined the family act and continued to perform in the Army during World War II. He recorded blues albums and in 1956 starred on Broadway in Mr. Wonderful. By the late 1950s Davis became a member of the famed Rat Pack alongside Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. A string of movies followed. Davis was almost killed in a 1954 car crash in San Bernardino that cost him his left eye. During his recovery he began studying Judaism and he converted in 1961. (April 10, 2 p.m., Temple Beth Israel, 567 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key)
- “Big Sonia” Sonia Warshawski, a Holocaust survivor who lives in Kansas City, Kan., is the star and subject of this documentary. Now 91, she’s had time to accumulate character. When we meet Sonia, her tailor shop is the last remaining business in a deserted mall. Between shop duties, speaking engagements and gefilte fish preparation, Sonia recounts her memories as a witness to senseless murders, including the death of her own mother in the gas chambers. Sonia neither forgives nor forgets the brutality inflicted upon her during the war, and her recollections are forcefully raw despite the habit she’s made of sharing them. (May 19, 2 p.m., Temple Emanu-El, 151 McIntosh Road, Sarasota)
- “No Place on Earth” In 1942, Esther Stermer, the matriarch of a Jewish family in the Ukraine, along with some family members and a group of other families, seek asylum underground to evade being caught by pursuing Nazis. They remain hidden below for nearly a year and a half—the longest recorded uninterrupted underground survival occurrence. Their story is unearthed by accident when cave explorer, Chris Nicola, stumbles upon remnants left behind by the cave dwellers. (June 17, 1:30 p.m., Selby Public Library, 1331 First Street, Sarasota)
- “The Last Days” In late 1944, even as they faced imminent defeat, the Nazis expended enormous resources to kill or deport over 425,000 Jews during the “cleansing” of Hungary. This Oscar-winning documentary, executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, focuses on the plight of five Hungarian Jews, who later became U.S. citizens, after having survived imprisonment in Auschwitz. (September 18, 2 p.m., Manatee Community Foundation, 2820 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton)
- “Once in a Lifetime” A dedicated history teacher at a French high school is determined to give the best education she can to her underprivileged inner-city pupils. Overcoming their apathy, however, is proving to be more difficult than expected. Frustrated but undaunted, she tests her multicultural classroom with a unique assignment: a national competition on the theme of child victims of the Nazi concentration camps. The project is initially met with extreme resistance, until a face-to-face encounter with a Holocaust survivor changes the students’ attitudes dramatically. (November 21, 1:15 p.m., Temple Beth Shalom, 1050 S. Tuttle Ave., Sarasota.)
About The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee
The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to save Jewish lives and enhance Jewish life in the Sarasota-Manatee region, in Israel, and throughout the world. In addition, the Federation is responsive when worldwide catastrophes occur. For more information, call 941-371-4546 or visit www.jfedsrq.org.