AJFF Recommends: What to Watch in May


A mix of classics, documentaries and dramas make up this month's picks with many of the films formerly featured at AJFF's annual festival. Film titles are linked with information on where to watch or purchase.

Video on Demand

The Graduate
Based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Charles Webb, the film tells the story of 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). To complicate matters further, he then falls in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). The film received six Academy Award nominations, including a win for director Mike Nichols. It also features one of the most famous soundtracks of all time, by Simon and Garfunkel. 

An abuse survivor exhumes his past in a forensic search for healing, in this brave, no-holds-barred investigation of trauma in a Jewish American family. All his younger life, Sasha’s father obsessively recorded the family’s every move. Once frisky and bright, Sasha becomes angry and isolated, and the innocuous footage proves a sinister archive of secrets. Amid a high-stakes court battle and media firestorm, family and mental health and legal experts are enlisted to reconstruct a history of child sexual abuse, as cathartic and instructive, as it is disturbing. Winner of the 2020 AJFF Documentary Jury Prize.

Shalom Bollywood
Full of unexpected delights, this documentary, featured at the 2018 AJFF, tells of the Jewish stars that dominated early Indian cinema. When the world’s largest film industry began, it was frowned upon for Hindu and Muslim women to appear on screen. So their roles were played by India’s Jewish community, Baghdadi and Bene Israel descendants that faced no taboos about performing in public. From the silent era through Bollywood’s golden age, Indian cinema icons share their highs and lows and how their careers pushed the boundaries of Indian-Jewish culture. Interviews plus rare archival footage and retro-style music and animation, revive the all-singing, all-dancing cheeky feel of a Bollywood production.

Uncut Gems 
Adam Sandler stars in this drama as a charismatic New York City jeweler who makes a high-stakes bet that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime. Along the way, he must balance business, family and adversaries on all sides, in pursuit of the ultimate win.

Blu-Ray & DVD

Enemies, A Love Story 
In this soulful, brilliantly acted adaptation of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s tragicomic novel, nominated for three Academy Awards, featuring nostalgic scenes of bustling midcentury New York City and a period pop and klezmer soundtrack, an enigmatic Holocaust survivor navigates romantic entanglements in postwar America. Featured as a classic for its 30th anniversary at the 2019 AJFF. 

Israel’s Oscar submission, a riveting psychological thriller, dramatizes the motives behind Prime Minister Rabin’s 1995 assassination. Told through the perpetrator’s eyes, the zealot is egged on by national leaders, religious orthodoxy, and right-wing media. With an unnerving central performance, this rigorously researched portrait was Israel’s Best Film winner. Featured at the 2020 AJFF.

The Mover
Latvia’s Oscar entry, this gripping, ominous drama tells of real worker Žanis Lipke—Latvia’s Schindler—honored for his courage during WWII. Žanis and his wife are unlikely heroes, suffering under the Soviets and Germans. When the Nazis begin moving Jews from a nearby ghetto into forced-labor camps, Žanis embarks on a covert mission to save them from certain death. Featured at the 2020 AJFF.

This wholly engaging, tender family dramedy about the knotty relationship between an aging, irascible mechanic and the exuberant special-needs son he abandoned long before, both tested by tribulations that prompt complicated ethical and legal questions with profound ramifications, was nominated for eight Israeli Academy Awards including Best Film. Opening Night at the 2019 AJFF.