AJFF What to Watch in April

03/31/2021

Former AJFF picks, classics, and Academy Award-winning documentaries and narratives are part of this month's roundup. Film titles are linked with information on where to watch or purchase.

In Theatres

Shiva Baby
Recently part of the 2021 AJFF, this caustically comic rollercoaster of sex and neurosis features a disaffected young woman who anxiously juggles an accumulation of mishaps and potentially disastrous encounters, each threatening to expose her messy multitude of secrets, all at the same funeral call.

Video on Demand 

The Keeper
A decorated ex-Nazi paratrooper plays for redemption on the soccer field in this rousing and romantic true story. Released from a British prisoner-of-war camp, Bert Trautmann’s goalkeeping skills secure him a position on the Manchester City team, where he catches the eye of the club manager’s daughter Margaret (Freya Mavor). But his arrival also arouses the post-war ire of fans, many of them Jewish. With unexpected support from a local rabbi, Trautmann wins over his critics, famously playing the 1956 FA Cup Final with a broken neck. Featured at the 2020 AJFF and winner of the 2020 AJFF Best Narrative Audience Award.

The Pianist 
Adrien Brody won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Władysław Szpilman in this 2002 drama based on the autobiography "The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945". The film follows Szpilman, a Polish Jewish radio station pianist, as he watches Warsaw change as World War II begins, and forced to hide in various locations among the ruins of Warsaw.

The Zookeeper's Wife 
The film is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Diane Ackerman. Two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain stars in the real-life story of the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Żabiński, who helped save hundreds of Jews during the German invasion of Poland.

Blu-Ray & DVD

Dirty Dancing 
Shown at AJFF for its 25th anniversary, this classic follows a naïve Jewish teenager who learns about life, love and dancing while summering with her family in the Catskills circa 1963, in this pop landmark starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

The Last Days 
This moving testament of the power of the human spirit and winner of the 1998 Academy Award for Best Documentary, executive produced by Steven Spielberg, centers on five Hungarian Jews who survived imprisonment in Auschwitz: a grandmother, a teacher, a businessman, an artist and a U.S. Congressman.

Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
In this documentary, featured at the 2020 AJFF, filmmaker Ric Burns candidly addresses Sacks’s battles with drug addiction, homophobia, and a medical establishment that long shunned his pioneering work. Based largely on interviews shot just after his terminal diagnosis, Sacks is honest and expressive as he comes to terms with the meaning of his existence, and his imminent death.

Spaceballs
Featured recently as part of the 2021 AJFF, this Mel Brooks classic an outrageous outer space saga with an all-star cast, spoofs Star Wars and silly sci-fi conventions.

Special Mention

The Nanny 
All six seasons of the hit CBS '90s sitcom will be available on HBO Max on April 1, featuring Fran Drescher as the cosmetics-saleswoman-fashionista-from-Flushing, Queens-turned-nanny to the family of British Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield.