Several films of Jewish interest to be screened at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival

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In Zaytoun, a new film from Eran Ricklis (The Syrian Bride, Lemon Tree), Yoni (Stephen Dorff), an Israeli fighter pilot shot down over Lebanon in 1982, manages his escape with the help of a 12-year-old Palestinian refugee street vendor, Fahed (Abdallah El Akal). Zaytoun had its world premiere last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, and won the runners-up prize for the People’s Choice Award.

The unlikely buddy movie, a United Kingdom/Israel production, will be shown 2:40 p.m. Friday, April 26, and 7 p.m. Sunday, April 28 at the St. Anthony Main Theatre, as part of the 2013 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF).

The MSPIFF organizers have assembled some 200 films, which will screen from April 11-28. For a complete schedule, go to: mspfilmfest.org.

Another film with Israeli provenance is Igor & the Cranes’ Journey, directed by Evgeny Ruman. This Israeli, German and Polish production, which is part of the Childish Films section of the festival, follows 11-year-old Igor, who joins his ornithologist father in creating a documentary project to capture the birth of a young crane.

As the Russian cranes migrate south to Africa, Igor’s father takes off to pursue the birds. When Igor’s mother announces her plan to move to Israel to pursue her musical career, Igor must also emigrate. Finding it hard to get used to Israeli life, the boy tracks the cranes via his father’s Web site. A new friend, Vered, starts following the crane blog and others come on board. Inspired to action, Igor creates a bird sanctuary. When Igor’s father and the cranes land to rest in Israel, Igor learns to make peace with his own migratory life.

Igor & the Cranes’ Journey will be shown 12:50 p.m. Sunday, April 21, and 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, April 23.

A film for adults, Hannah Arendt, directed by Margarethe von Trotta, a renowned German actress and director, is a fictional narrative exploration of the eponymous philosopher and political theorist’s coverage of the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichman in Jersualem. Hired by The New Yorker magazine to report on the celebrated trial, Arendt, played by veteran German actress Barbara Sukowa, concludes that Eichmann is a mediocrity, a Third Reich bureaucrat following orders, rather than the monstrously evil character of popular imagination. Hannah Arendt presents scenes of spirited intellectual combat among Arendt and her émigré friends and Israelis; however, the real drama centers on archival footage from the trial, including emotionally fraught testimony by survivors and the arguments of Eichmann, from his bulletproof glass box.

Hannah Arendt will screen 3:15 p.m. Sunday, April 14, and 4:40 p.m. Sunday, April 21.

Another film with a Shoah theme is The Last Sentence, directed by Jan Troell. This fictional film looks at the life of outspoken Swedish journalist Torgny Segerstedt, who waged a singular campaign to alert the public about the rise of Nazism in Europe in the 1930s, even as the Swedish government exerted pressure to keep quiet about the impending cataclysm. The Last Sentence weaves together Segerstedt’s political struggle and a complicated personal situation, as the famous journalist conducts an affair with his best friend’s wife while he is married himself. The film will be shown 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, and 1:15 p.m. Saturday, April 27.

Documentary filmmaker Jamie Meltzer’s new effort revolves around a story that erupted during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Informant, an 82-minute documentary, gives over much of its time to the ruminations of Brandon Darby, a macho revolutionist who became a confidential informant for the FBI. He traveled from Austin, Texas, to Minnesota with two younger protégés, David McKay and Bradley Crowder, who eventually were arrested for fabricating a number of Molotov cocktails. Informant reveals Darby’s confused and anxious mentality, as he tries to cast himself always in a heroic light; at the end, he’s spinning out far-fetched versions of his exploits on the Tea Party speaking circuit. Perhaps the film could have fleshed out more of the details regarding the case of the “Texas 2,” who unfortunately fell under Darby’s spell and ended up serving time in federal prison. Informant screens 5 p.m. Thursday, April 18, and 5:10 p.m. Sunday, April 21.

Here are some other films of interest to AJW readers:

  • Inch’Allah, directed by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, a Canadian drama that looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of a young Quebecoise obstetrician (Evelyne Brochu), who is working at a U.N. clinic in the Ramallah refugee camp, but living in Jerusalem. This looks to be a grim portrayal of Palestinian suffering. 7:15 p.m. Friday, April 19, and 3:15 p.m. Sunday, April 21.
  • The Attack, directed by Ziad Doueiri, tells the story of an Arab-Israeli surgeon, Dr. Amin Jaafari, who treats victims of suicide bombers, and then is shocked to discover that his wife was involved in a suicide bombing. The doctor ventures into the Palestinian West Bank to confront those who recruited his wife, in this film adapted from Yasmina Khadra’s international bestseller. 7:15 Tuesday, April 16, and 9:30 p.m. Sunday, April 21 (102 minutes, Arabic/Hebrew, with subtitles).
  • Greenwich Village: Music That Defined A Generation, directed by Laura Archibald, is an 84-minute documentary about New York City’s famous folk movement. The times and music are illuminated through interviews with Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, et al. The film also includes rarely seen performances by Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. 11 a.m. Saturday, April 20, and 9:20 p.m. Monday, April 22.
  • Koch, directed by Neil Barsky, focuses on colorful former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who died on Feb. 1, just days before the film’s premiere. The film, which fleshes out some of the controversies that swirled around the boisterous politician, is “above all a chronicle of New York civic life from 1977 to 1989,” according to the New York Times film review. 12:30 p.m. Sunday, April 21, and 5 p.m. Friday, April 26.

All MSPIFF screenings will take place at the St. Anthony Main Theatre, 115 S.E. Main St., Minneapolis. For information, go to: mspfilmfest.org, or call the festival hotline at 612-331-3134.