How do you continue to excite the imagination, inspire reflection and conversation, and provide opportunities to engage and connect to the Jewish community in a year that has challenged us all? That's a challenge the organizers took very seriously when planning the second virtual iteration of the JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival this spring.
From March through early June, the festival will present six films over six weekends. The Festival includes comedies, dramas, and a documentary, from around the world, with a focus on protagonists who stand up for their beliefs. The films will feature Dame Judi Dench, Lainie Kazan, Joseph Bologna, and Moshe Dayan's family. Additionally, there will be post-film exclusive Q and As with the filmmakers.
Having recently wrapped up a three-week Fall Film festival, two Social Justice Film Series, and a Virtual Film Library that has engaged over 10,000 people across Illinois this year, the JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival screening committee has found the sweet spot for choosing their film line-up. "Out of the 150 - 200 films we typically screen each year, we curate the festival, choosing those films deemed to have the most potential for impact in terms of entertaining, educating, and inspiring connection to Jewish identity and community;" said Ilene Uhlmann, JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival Director.
The JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival--which is part of a year-long initiative of community connection through film that has taken place every March for the past eight years--has not missed a beat despite film production and theater shutdowns during the pandemic. The J has found that one of the silver linings of the pandemic is that virtual programming permeates the geographical boundaries that present a challenge to in-person programming in an area as large as metropolitan Chicago. Additionally, it has provided access for those who are mobility challenged.
"The virtual platform provides an opportunity for inclusivity, so that all who are interested are able to participate," Uhlmann said. "We have heard from so many people outside of the core community who are excited and grateful for this opportunity and for the exposure to these kinds of films, which they would not ordinarily have had."
All six films will be presented on a virtual platform, providing the audience the opportunity to view them at their convenience over a 72-hour period from 9am on the first day to 11:45pm on the last day. The first film will be streaming Friday, March 5 -- Sunday, March 7. The cost will be $15/film or pre-purchase festival passes for $75 allowing access to all six films or $45 to stream four films. This is a limited time offer. Exclusive, interactive conversations with filmmakers, authors and experts will be offered throughout the Festival. Details and film access is available at
Jill Kahan is JCC Chicago Program Marketing Manager.