Jewish film fest returns with a mix of history, drama and satire

"Harmonia," with Tali Sharon as a harpist, is one of several films screened in the XV International Festival of Jewish Cinema in Mexico. Photo: Courtesy
“Harmonia,” with Tali Sharon as a harpist, is one of several films screened in the XV International Festival of Jewish Cinema in Mexico. Photo: Courtesy

Mérida Yucatán — A selection of films with Jewish themes will be screened at the Mayamax Hall of the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya as part of the XV International Festival of Jewish Cinema in Mexico from June 20 to July 5.

The series begins with Fever at Dawn (Hungary, 2015,) on Wednesday, June 20, in Hungarian and Hebrew, with Spanish subtitles. The film, set in 1945. is based on the true story of Miklos Gardos, a Holocaust survivor diagnosed with lung disease and given six months to live. He is determined to find love in the short time the doctors said he had left.

From a Swedish hospital where he has been admitted, Gardos wrote letters to 117 Hungarian women at hospitals across the Nordic country, claiming to have known them back home.

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The film was directed by Gardos’ son, Peter Gardos.

The protagonist in Harmonia (Israel, 2016) is a harpist named Sarah, who is married to Abraham, a conductor for the Jerusalem philharmonic orchestra.

The childless Israeli musical couple seeks to form a family in this contemporary adaptation of the biblical tale of Abraham and Sarah set inside the inner sanctum of a symphony hall.

Enter Hagar, a young horn player of French-Arab descent who joins the orchestra and forms a close personal relationship with Sarah. Their bond gives way to something more fraught when Hagar offers to carry the couple’s baby. The resulting clash of cultures can ultimately be reconciled only through music.

Harmonia was nominated for five Israeli Academy Awards, and winner of the Best Cinematography and Lia Van Leer Jewish Heritage awards at the Jerusalem Film Festival. The film will be screened on June 27, in Hebrew with Spanish subtitles.

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That is followed by Peace After Marriage (Israel, United States, Jordan, 2013) about a sexually frustrated ,Palestinian-American  man who agrees to marry an Israeli woman for a green card, triggering a war at home with his parents, who will stop at nothing to divorce him from his new wife. This film will be screened on Thursday, June 28, in English with Spanish subtitles.

On June 21 the film A Borrowed Identity (Israel, Germany, France, 2014) follows a boy from an Arab village who has the opportunity to attend a prestigious boarding school in Jerusalem. He makes a decision that will alter the course of his life forever. The film is based on the 2002 novel Dancing Arabs.

The Cakemaker (Israel, 2017) follows Thomas, a young and talented German baker who has a secret affair with an married Israeli man who dies in a car crash. Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking answers. The screening is July 4, in English, German and Hebrew with Spanish subtitles.

The last film, on July 5, is a bold satire called The 90 Minute War. After decades of strife and failed peace talks, both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict decide to settle their differences on a soccer field.

This is the second year the Mexico City-based film fest has branched into Mérida.

Each screening begins at 7 p.m., and admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

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