Food, music and politics define the Jewish Film Series that launches this weekend at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington.
The series is less an official event than an ad hoc grouping of good movies augmented by an evening of music by a top-notch klezmer band, says Dylan Skolnick, the venue’s co-director and son of its two founders, Vic Skolnick and Charlotte Sky. “We don’t market it as an annual event,” he says, although he did help put together a similar series last year. “Jewish films are part of our schedule anyway, but we just happened to have a really strong group of movies all together. So it kind of worked out.”
The three documentary films include a survey of Israel’s diverse restaurants, an on-the-ground look at the country’s settler movement and an extended interview with authors and academics about Israel’s future. The food-related film promises a lighthearted evening, particularly since it’s a catered event, but Skolnick says he also hopes to spark post-screening debates among moviegoers.
“We’ve done a lot of programs over the years delving into these issues, and there’s always a good discussion,” Skolnick says. “With everything we do, we try to foster a real dialogue. You have these issues where people are so polarized, and what we need are champions for having people talk to each other.”
Here’s a quick breakdown of the upcoming film series:
MUSIC FROM YIDDISH CINEMA (Sunday, Nov. 19, at 2 p.m.) The eight-piece Metropolitan Klezmer band will showcase one of its specialties: music found in vintage Yiddish film soundtracks. Founded by drummer-bandleader Eve Sicular, the group will perform original arrangements of pieces from a range of movies, some of them well-known (1937’s “The Dybbuk”), others fairly obscure (a series of old newsreels made by Moscow’s State Yiddish Theater). Tickets include a post-show tasting of kosher food from Plainview’s new ShopRite of Country Pointe grocery store.
IN SEARCH OF ISRAELI CUISINE (Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m.) A tour of the roughly 100 different cultures in Israel — Jewish, Arab, Druze and many more — guided by Michael Solomonov, head chef at the highly rated Philadelphia restaurant Zahav. Foodies may be interested in seeing interviews with Rama Ben Zvi of the renowned Rama’s Kitchen in Nataf (gutted by a fire late last year) and Uri Jeremias, whose restaurant Uri Buri has been a mainstay of the little northern town of Acre for 25 years. Tickets include a reception with Israeli food.
JEWS STEP FORWARD (Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 7:30 p.m.) Marjorie Wright’s documentary features 24 American Jewish voices — a mix of authors, activists and academics — who share their thoughts on cultural identity and their evolving views on Israel. Tickets include a reception and a Q&A with the director.
THE SETTLERS (Monday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m.) Filmmaker Shimon Dotan, whose 2006 documentary “Hot House” focused on Palestinian prisoners in Israel, delves into Israel’s controversial settler movement. The film has received high praise for its close-up look at a community that is united around a common goal yet far from homogeneous. Ron Skolnik, of Jewish Currents magazine will be on hand to speak after the screening.
WHEN | WHERE The Jewish Film Series runs Sunday, Nov. 19 through Dec. 4 at Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington
TICKETS Musical event: $30; screenings: $16
INFO 631-423-7611, cinemaartscentre.org