If you go
What: Marco Island Jewish Film Festival
Where: 991 Winterberry Drive
When: All films are shown at 2 p.m.
n "100 Voices: A Journey Home" Dec. 18
n "The Yankles" Jan. 18,
n "Berlin '36" Feb. 12
n "La Rafle" Feb. 26 and "Shole, Aleichem — Laughing in the Darkness" March 4.
Cost: "100 Voices: A Journey Home" is free. All other films are $25. Series tickets are $85 and $65.
Tickets/information: 239-642-0800 for advance tickets or purchase at the door.
The 11th annual Marco Island Jewish Film Festival shares stories of the Jewish experience that were once handed down from parent to child.
"We don't sit at our grandmothers' knees and hear the stories of our past anymore," said Isabel Price, the festival's founder and director. "But we come here and get a good dose of history, lessons and stories on film while being entertained."
The festival, which is the only one of its kind in Collier County, will show four movies, starting Jan. 15. Traditional food, such as potato latkes and bagels, will be served after each screening.
In addition to the festival's four movies, Price will show a free screening of "100 Voices: A Journey Home" at 2 p.m. Dec. 18. The documentary chronicles a mission taken by the world's finest cantors to Poland for reconciliation and celebration of their culture at the birthplace of cantorial music.
"This whole thought of friendship and coming together to make amends," Price said. "I didn't want to charge for it. I wanted anyone and everyone to share in this experience."
For the festival's opening movie, Price responded to requests for more lighthearted films. "The Yankles," a comedy about a group of Orthodox Jewish students who start a baseball team, premieres at 2 p.m. Jan. 15.
"They said to give them something fun and light," said Price, who has been a member of the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island for 17 years. "There aren't too many funny ones but this is a refreshing one that looks into the world of ultra Orthodox and modern culture."
Price selected "Berlin'36" to gleam light onto the little known tale of high jumper Gretel Bergman, the only Jewish athlete invited to be part of the German Olympic team in 1936. It will screen at 2 p.m. Feb. 12.
"I don't think this movie would have been made 30 years ago because she was a woman," Price said. "It gave us a little bit of history many might not know about."
The struggle of Jews during Hitler's reign is a recurring theme in Jewish films. A major subject is the persecution of millions during the Holocaust This year's "La Rafle" tells of a Parisian Jewish family who are corralled and taken to the Vel D'Hiv, a winter sports stadium near the Eiffel Tower. Audiences can catch it at 2 p.m. Feb. 26.
"It's very important to remember the past," said Marjorie Seltzer, a 30-year member of the JCMI. "It's important to have movies that recount the Holocaust so we don't forget."
"Sholem Aleichem — Laughing in the Darkness" closes the festival at 2 p.m. March 4. The Yiddish film retells author Sholem Aleichem's life experiences, which are the basis for the Broadway musical "Fiddler on the Roof" and Hollywood movie of the same name.
"There are a lot of poor times, repression and difficulty," Price said. "But there was always a joke. There was always a way to appreciate life and laugh."
Price begins the process of choosing films early in the year. She selects from about 35 independent movies and relies on a small committee of friends and families to narrow down the choices. Price said she looks for certain qualities.
"We want to choose films that are well made and leave a lasting impression," Price said.
All the movies will make their screening debuts in Florida at the festival. The unique ability to see award winning independent films outside major cities, such as New York or L.A., is a major draw.
"They are not typical films you would see at a movie theater," Rabbi Edward Maline said. They are special films many people around here wouldn't be able to catch."
The festival has grown from two movies in 2000 to now four. Last year, about 250 people attended each showing. The congregation expects more than 300 this year. Patrons can purchase advance tickets by calling 239-642-0800 or buy at the door for $25.