Boston Jewish Film Festival

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Boston Jewish Film Festival (BJFF)
Bjff logo.jpg
LocationBoston, United States

The Boston Jewish Film Festival (BJFF) is an annual film festival that screens the best contemporary films on Jewish themes from around the world. The festival presents features, shorts, documentaries, and conversations with visiting artists in order to explore the Jewish identity, the current Jewish experience and the richness of Jewish culture in relation to a diverse modern world.


Founded by filmmaker Michal Goldman in 1989, the Boston Jewish Film Festival has grown from 10 screenings to more than 60 throughout the Boston area (including Brookline, Newton, Somerville, and Cambridge venues (such as the Museum of Fine Arts and the Coolidge Corner Theatre). In the past 27 years, the Festival has presented more than 800 films - many of them US or Massachusetts premieres – and welcomed more than hundreds of thousands audience members. Many of the films that have been shown have gone on to be nominated for or win Academy Awards, including The Pianist (winner, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay, 2002), Nowhere in Africa (winner, Best Foreign Film, 2002), and The Personals (winner, Best Short-Subject Documentary, 1998). Visiting artists are brought in from around the world to introduce their films, answer audience questions, and participate in panel discussions. The Festival also offers many live events, from pre-screening music, to new scores to accompany silent films, to full-fledged post-screening concerts and dance performances.

Film submission criteria[edit]

The Annual Festival is a non-competitive event, although since 2002 it has offered audience members the opportunity to cast ballots for favorite Documentary and Feature film and, in 2006, Favorite Short Subject. It screens International and American independent films and videos that highlight the Jewish experience; deal with themes of Jewish culture/heritage/history; and films of particular interest to the Jewish community. The Festival also presents narrative, documentary, animated and experimental works. Projects must be completed in 35mm, 16mm, Beta or 1/2 inch. They can be of any length, but must not have previously been screened in the Boston area.

Year-round programs[edit]

The Boston Jewish Film Festival has also grown from presenting films once a year at the annual festival to a flourishing year-round arts organization, with programs and screenings taking place nearly every month. Since 1998, the Festival has presented more than 275 films and welcomed another 75,000+ audience members outside the November Festival.

Annual festival[edit]

A fourteen plus day event each November showcasing the best contemporary films from around the world on Jewish themes, accompanied by visiting filmmakers, panel discussions, musical events and more.

Work-in-progress event[edit]

A special screening and reception that brings a filmmaker to present and discuss his/her work from a new, "work-in-progress" film. This event is offered as a thank-you to those who buy Friends passes early.

Fall gala[edit]

The Fall Gala event is the pre-festival kick-off that includes an elegant dinner and a unique film experience.

Pre-release and word-of-mouth screenings[edit]

The Festival often presents a special advance screening, sometimes with a visiting filmmaker or actor. Other times, members are offered free tickets to word-of-mouth screenings at a local theater. These screenings are chances to see films before the general public.


The Boston Jewish Film Festival works with other film festivals throughout the year to bring quality films to the Boston area. Some recent and ongoing partners include the Boston French Film Festival, the Boston LGBT Film Festival, the Independent Film Festival of Boston, the Roxbury International Film Festival and many more.

Curated series and programs[edit]

From time to time, the Boston Jewish Film Festival curates a special series either independently or in conjunction with another organization. These series are often thematically-based, and have included in the past a series focusing on the question of censorship and freedom of expression as part of the New Center for Arts and Culture’s multi-disciplinary citywide exhibition Words on Fire, as well as a series celebrating pioneering Jewish women in America in conjunction with Jewish Women’s Archive.

Former events[edit]

Annual encore series[edit]

Each spring, with the support of the Dorot Foundation, several of the past year’s fall Festival hits are brought back to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for an annual Encore series. The series begins in late May, continuing to early July.

Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center Summer Institute[edit]

Every year between June and August, The Boston Jewish Film Festival curates a special series of films-on-video in conjunction with the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center Summer Institute.


In 1999, the Boston Jewish Film Festival was named “Best Film Series” by the Boston Society of Film Critics.

In 2003, Artistic Director Kaj Wilson and Executive Director Sara Rubin were honored with Image Awards for Vision and Excellence by Women in Film & Video in New England.

In 2004, it hosted the 4th Conference of Jewish Film Festivals, welcoming Jewish Film Festival directors from around the globe to Boston.

In 2006, Executive Director Sara L. Rubin was recognized and honored for her career and her dedication to French culture by the French Minister of Culture by being introduced into France's Order of Arts and Letters, with the rank of Chevalier (Knight).

In 2007, departing Artistic Director Kaj Wilson was honored for her work by a commendation from the Boston Society of Film Critics.


Year Best Feature Fiction Director Best Documentary Director
2013 The Jewish Cardinal Ilan Duran Cohen Life According to Sam Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine
2012 Melting Away Doron Eran Hitler's Children Chanoch Zeevi
2011 Kaddish for a Friend Leo Khasin Beating Time Odette Orr
2010 Saviors in the Night (Unter Bauern – Retter in der Nacht) Ludi Boeken My So-Called Enemy Lisa Gossels
2009 Eli & Ben Ori Ravid Killing Kasztner: The Jew Who Dealt with Nazis Gaylen Ross
2008 Noodle Ayelet Menahemi Holy Land Hardball Brett Rapkin and Erik Keston
2007 Beaufort (Bufor) Joseph Cedar Praying with Lior Ilana Trachtman
2006 Ira and Abby Robert Cary The Rape of Europa Richard Berge, Nicole Newnham, and Bonni Cohen
2005 Live and Become Radu Mihaileanu 39 Pounds of Love Dani Menkin
2004 Wondrous Oblivion Paul Morrison Watermarks Yaron Zilberman
2003 Yossi and Jagger Eytan Fox Thunder in Guyana Suzanne Wasserman
2002 Monsieur Batignole Gérard Jugnot Strange Fruit Joel Katz

External links[edit]