AJFF Recommends Old Films for the New Year

01/7/2022

Happy New Year! We’re so glad you arrived here, at the “Old Films, New Year” entry of AJFF Updates. We hope you’re staying safe this New Year, and that your upcoming weekend allots for movie time and, most importantly, digging into that assorted popcorn your second cousin or employer gifted you this December.

Before Generation Z starts calling these 2000-2021 films “classics,” let's take a look back at some of our favorite Jewish films, actors, and moments of the past 21 years in cinema!

Keeping the Faith (2000)

Best friends since they were kids, Rabbi Jacob Schram (Ben Stiller) and Father Brian Finn (Edward Norton) are dynamic and popular young men living and working on New York's Upper West Side. When Anna Reilly (Jenna Elfman), once their childhood friend and now grown into a beautiful corporate executive, suddenly returns to the city, she reenters Jake and Brian's lives and hearts with a vengeance. Sparks fly and an unusual and complicated love triangle ensues.

The Pianist (2002)

The true story of pianist Władysław Szpilman’s experiences in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation. When the Jews of the city find themselves forced into a ghetto, Szpilman finds work playing in a café; and when his family is deported in 1942, he stays behind, works for a while as a laborer, and eventually goes into hiding in the ruins of the war-torn city.

Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

A young Jewish American man endeavors—with the help of eccentric, distant relatives—to find the woman who saved his grandfather during World War II—in a Ukrainian village which was ultimately razed by the Nazis.

A Serious Man (2009)

Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a physics professor at a 1960s university, but his life is coming apart at the seams. His wife (Sari Lennick) is leaving him, his jobless brother (Richard Kind) has moved in, and someone is trying to sabotage his chances for tenure. Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis, but whether anyone can help him overcome his many afflictions remains to be seen

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

It is the first year of Germany's occupation of France. Allied officer Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) assembles a team of Jewish soldiers to commit violent acts of retribution against the Nazis, including the taking of their scalps. He and his men join forces with Bridget von Hammersmark, a German actress and undercover agent, to bring down the leaders of the Third Reich. Their fates converge with theater owner Shosanna Dreyfus, who seeks to avenge the Nazis' execution of her family.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010)

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work takes the audience on a year-long ride with legendary comedian Joan Rivers in her 76th year of life. Peeling away the mask of an iconic comedian and exposing the struggles, sacrifices and joy of living life as a groundbreaking female performer. The film is an emotionally surprising and revealing portrait of one the most hilarious and long-standing career women ever in the business. 

Ida (2013)

In 1962, Anna is about to take vows as a nun when she learns from her only relative that she is Jewish. Both women embark on a journey to discover their family story and where they belong.

One Week and a Day (2016)

​​A grieving father steals medicinal marijuana from a hospice, skips work and hangs out with his estranged neighbor's son, while his wife tries to get back to her daily routine as she fights off school teachers, stray kittens and dental clinic workers.

Disobedience (2017)

New York photographer Ronit Krushka flies to London after learning about the death of her estranged father. Ronit is returning to the same Orthodox Jewish community that shunned her decades earlier for her childhood attraction to Esti, a female friend. Their fortuitous and happy reunion soon reignites their burning passion as the two women explore boundaries of faith and sexuality.

Jay Myself (2018)

Photographer Stephen Wilkes creates an intimate portrait of his mentor, Jay Maisel, as he leaves the 30,000 square foot building in the Bowery that he's inhabited and filled with his eccentric collection of beautiful random objects for the last 40 years - known as "The Bank."

Uncut Gems (2019)

A charismatic jeweler makes a high-stakes bet that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime. In a precarious high-wire act, he must balance business, family and adversaries on all sides in pursuit of the ultimate win.

Misha and the Wolves (2021)

This documentary film follows the dramatic tale of a woman whose holocaust memoir took the world by storm, but a fallout with her publisher - who turned detective - revealed an audacious deception created to hide a darker truth.