A Broadway legend, a gay marriage lawyer, an interfaith gay couple and three female roommates walk into a film festival
By Elijah Sarkesian
Hurdles before a wedding day, a push for marriage equality, a legendary flop, and bonding in spite of difference. These are just some of the stories screening at this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which is happening now with multiple chances to see each entry.
The annual showcase of scores of films examines the Jewish community and its relationships with different cultural, ethnic and religious communities. That includes the four features with the LGBT characters mentioned above.
The festival lasts through Wednesday, Feb. 15. All four of the LGBT-inclusive titles hit various venues across the Atlanta area, so there are plenty of opportunities to take in each film, along with a wide variety of other worthy movies that are part of this year’s slate.
Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened
Stephen Sondheim is responsible for composing some of Broadway’s most memorable productions and numbers. But after a successful run in the 1970s, though, Sondheim’s 1981 show Merrily We Roll Along infamously closed after only 16 performances.
The show was notorious for its unusual structure, which unfolds in reverse time, and for casting teens as adults, which was even more controversial at the time than it would be today. Now in Best Worst Thing, original cast member Lonny Price steps behind the camera to reunite with others associated with that 1981 show to explore the troubled production.
Sunday, Jan. 29, 11:15 a.m. @ GTC Merchants Walk. Saturday, Feb. 11, 1 p.m. @Lefont Sandy Springs. Saturday, Feb. 11, 8:30 p.m. @ Regal Atlantic Station.
David (Maximilian von Pufendorf) and Khaled (Omar El-Saeidi) have been together for two years, and they’re ready to take the next step and get married. The happy couple may be ready for their same-sex, interfaith marriage, but they face hurdles including David’s overbearing mother and Khaled’s homophobic father, as well as a surprise visit from an old acquaintance claiming that David is the father of her child.
Will David and Khaled be able to overcome these obstacles and have the wedding of their dreams? It’s a hilarious ride toward finding out.
Saturday, Jan. 28, 9:30 p.m. @ GTC Merchants Walk. Sunday, Jan. 29, 2:30 p.m. @ UA Tara. Friday, Feb. 3, 12:40 p.m. @ Regal Perimeter Pointe. Saturday, Feb. 4, 2 p.m. @ Lefont Sandy Springs. Saturday, Feb. 11, 8:40 p.m. @ Woodruff Arts Center*
*This screening is presented by American Jewish Committee’s Young Leadership division, and is reserved for attendees 40-years-old and younger. It’s preceded by a party at 7 p.m.
The Freedom to Marry
For Evan Wolfson, an openly gay, Jewish lawyer, social justice was instilled in him from his days growing up active in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community. Wolfson is one of the people behind the scenes who dedicated himself for year to pushing for marriage equality in the United States. This documentary is the story of how he created the national Freedom to Marry group and helped push court cases that culminated in the historic 2015 Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges that made marriage equality the law of the land.
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2:30 p.m. @ Regal Perimeter Pointe. Monday, Feb. 13, 7:50 p.m. @ Lefont Sandy Springs. *Sunday, Feb. 5, 7 p.m. @ Regal Atlantic Station and *Tuesday, Feb. 14, 7:50 p.m. @ Woodruff Arts Center.
*Out on Film leads panel discussions following these final two screenings.
Tel Aviv’s underground bars serve as nightly hot spots for Palestinian roommates Laila (Mouna Hawa), a chic criminal lawyer, and Salma (Sana Jammelieh), a lesbian DJ. Their other roommate, Nour (Shaden Kanboura), lives her life in a way that’s considerably more conservative and religious. The three young women learn how to live with each other while remaining true to themselves, all while bonding over their shared experience of living as Palestinian women in Jewish society.
Friday, Jan. 27, 2:20 p.m. @ GTC Merchants Walk. Monday, Jan. 30, 9:10 p.m. @ UA Tara. Saturday, Feb. 11, 1 p.m. @ Regal Atlantic Station. Tuesday, Feb. 14, 7:50 p.m. @ Lefont Sandy Springs
The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival runs through Wednesday, Feb. 15. For a complete lineup and tickets, visit ajff.org.