Celebrate! Commemorate! Contemplate!

Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israeli Independence Day, and Mother’s Day all happen during the 2016 Wilmington Jewish Film Festival. The timing of our Third Annual Festival enables us to fulfill our educational and entertainment missions, with eight films that explore motherhood, contemporary Israel, American pop music by a Jewish composer, and the aftermath of the Holocaust in Germany, France, and Hungary.

The Wilmington Jewish Film Festival, in association with The United Jewish Appeal of Wilmington, offers eight award-winning feature films and selected shorts over eight days in May: May 1-4 and May 8-11. Two films have Sunday screenings at 3 PM in historic Thalian Hall Main Stage on May 1st and 8th.   They will be followed by catered receptions for filmgoers. The other six films screen at 7 PM, also at Thalian Hall Main Stage, on two Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, May 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and May 9th, 10th and 11th.  Dessert receptions follow the weeknight films.

The eight feature films offer unique perspectives on Jewish identity, Jewish customs and rituals, Jewish history, and contemporary global politics. They include internationally acclaimed documentaries, biopics, and historical and contemporary drama. Several entertaining shorts on both serious and comic subjects will also be shown. Talks by film experts follow some screenings. Audiences will have more opportunities to share their thoughts and socialize at the receptions that follow all screenings.


Our individual ticket prices for the two Sunday events are:

  • $15, plus $2 preservation fee and tax
  • Students with valid ID & Active Military – $10, plus $1 preservation fee and tax

Our prices for the weekday events (Monday through Wednesday) are:

  • $10, plus $1 preservation fee and tax
  • Students with valid ID and Active Military -$7, plus $1 preservation fee and tax


An All- Festival Pass is available now for $80, which includes one ticket to each of the 8 films, with other fees waived. Festival Passes are only available at The pass must be exchanged for a ticket at the Thalian Box office at least 15 minutes before each screening begins. Individual Tickets must be purchased at the Thalian Hall website, or to avoid an extra fee, by calling the Thalian Hall Box Office at (910) 632-2285.

We have an award-winning lineup and we hope we’ve kindled your curiosity. For updates on the Festival and to purchase an All-Festival Pass, visit our website, Tickets on sale on April 1st.


The eight feature films of the 2016 Wilmington Jewish Film Festival are:

Sunday, May 1st, 2016: 3 PM (Film followed by buffet reception in the Ballroom)

Labyrinth of Lies (2014; German, with subtitles)


We launch our festival with the award-winning German film Labyrinth of Lies, which starkly portrays the conspiracy of silence and indifference by the German government to prosecute the crimes of former Nazis. In the film, directed by Giulio Ricciarelli, the courage and persistence of one young German attorney in the public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt, Johann Radmann (a fictitious composite of three real-life attorneys) are portrayed as he tracks down and prosecutes 22 offenders (but he is unsuccessful in apprehending the infamous Dr. Mengele) , culminating in the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials of the 1960s. This film prepares filmgoers to observe Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom Ha Shoah, which this year is on May 4th. This gripping movie has been shown in such venues as Australia, the UK, and the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. New York Times reviewer Stephen Holden notes that the film’s director refuses “to sensationalize its subject” and that the film “is content to be a chilly, disquieting study of a society in a state of denial until the truth is bared.”


Monday, May 2nd, 2016: 7 PM (Film followed by dessert reception)

Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love (2013, English)


This engaging American/British biopic directed by Dori Berinstein documents the life story of Marvin Hamlisch, a musical prodigy accepted to Julliard at age six. He used his talents to create joyous musical theater and to compose memorable pop music and award-winning movie scores, earning 4 Grammys, 4 Emmys, 3 Oscars, 3 Golden Globes, a Tony Award, and a Pulitzer Prize. His musical scores include The Way We Were, The Sting, A Chorus Line, and many others. He performed in the White House often and in concert halls worldwide. The film contains footage from many of these performances. A reviewer notes that “a rich archival legacy, his interviews with A-team collaborators, and cooperation from his family combine to tell this rich and engrossing story.”


Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016: 7 PM (Film followed by dessert reception)

Dough (2015, English)


This British film, gently humorous and tender, directed by John Goldschmidt, presents an old Jewish baker, played by celebrated actor Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones, Pirates o f the Caribbean) , who is struggling to keep his London kosher bakery business alive. His sons have no interest in keeping the business going, so he takes as apprentice a young Muslim man. The apprentice is also trying to deal with his family’s debts by selling cannabis on the side, but he accidentally drops some in the dough; challah sales begin to soar. An unlikely friendship develops between the two and the redeeming effects of this friendship are at the center of this warm-hearted film. The film has played in theaters from Florida to Atlanta, Washington D.C., and California. It was shown twice to sellout crowds at our Cucalorus Festival in Fall, 2015. If you missed seeing it then and have heard how wonderful it was, now is your chance to catch Dough and see what the buzz has been about. One filmgoer at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival called Dough “a ‘dramedy’ with a big heart.”


Wednesday, May, 4, 2016: 7 PM – Holocaust Remembrance Day, (Yom Ha Shoah), is commemorated beginning this evening at sundown. (Film followed by dessert reception)

Once in a Lifetime (2014; French, with subtitles)


As Holocaust Remembrance Day begins this evening, filmgoers see a fact-based French movie, directed by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, about a caring teacher (Anne Angles is the real teacher) who immerses her high school students, a working-class, ethnically diverse and troubled group, in a creative educational competition that reveals to them the terrible impact of the Holocaust on young people during the Second World War. Filmgoers see the sympathies and humanity of these teens deepen as they prepare their project for the competition, especially when they visit the Shoah memorial in Paris and when a Holocaust survivor, Leon Zyguel, comes to their classroom to speak to them. A reviewer notes the effectiveness of the scene in which Zyguel speaks, when the teary expressions of the students reveals “how the Holocaust still resonates on faces far removed from its horrors.” This film will be especially powerful for teenage filmgoers.


Sunday, May 8, 2016: 3 PM, Mother’s Day (Film followed by buffet reception in the Ballroom)

Noodle (2007; mainly Hebrew, some English & Mandarin, with subtitles)


An El Al airline flight attendant, twice-widowed due to the ongoing Israeli-Arab conflict, develops a maternal relationship with an abandoned Chinese boy whose migrant-worker mother has been deported back to China. This Israeli film, directed by Ayelet Menachemi, traces the saga of the flight attendant’s efforts to reunite the boy—who like his mother has no immigration documents—with his mother in China. This touching comic drama won a special Grand Prize of the Jury at the Montreal World Film Festival and other awards at film festivals in the U.S. and globally. One reviewer in the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia has said, “This Israeli film about grief and loss surprisingly takes the form of a crowd pleaser. “

Monday, May 9, 2016: 7 PM (Film followed by dessert reception)

The Last Mentsch (2014; German, with subtitles)


Born Menahem Teitelbaum, Marcus Schwarz has ignored his Jewish heritage all his adult life. A survivor of Auschwitz, He creates a new identity for himself in Germany apart from any Jewish community. Now an old man, he decides he wants to be buried in a Jewish cemetery, but he cannot produce written evidence or the testimony of his family (all dead) to prove his Jewish identity to the rabbis. All he has is the Auschwitz number tattooed on his arm, not sufficient proof. This German film, directed by the award-winning documentarian Pierre-Henry Salfati, becomes a road trip movie as Marcus travels to the Hungarian town of his childhood in quest of proof of his birthright. He is aided on this journey by a young Turkish woman. They become friends and both are healed by this powerful emotional road trip. The film has been screened at Jewish Film Festivals from Omaha, San Francisco, and Chicago to Atlanta, Charlotte, and Westchester. As one critic puts it, “The Last Mentsch is a poignant film, which reminds us that the best story is not always the one we prefer to hear, but the truth.”


Tuesday, May 10, 2016: 7 PM (Film followed by dessert reception)

Raise the Roof (2015, English)


Hitler gets no posthumous victory in this triumphant documentary film’s saga of the restoration of the elaborate roof and painted ceiling of a glorious synagogue in Poland that had been destroyed by the Nazis. Architectural history comes to life as the film traces the reconstruction and resurrection in 2014 at the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw of the roof and mural designs of an 18th century wooden synagogue from the town of Gwoździec. Artists Rick and Laura Brown mastermind the rebuilding, recruiting hundreds of craftsmen, students and other volunteers—Jews and Gentiles–and employing old tools and artisanal techniques. Directed by Yari Wolinsky in the U.S. and Poland, the film’s rich visuals and spiritual energy will delight audiences. The Cleveland Jewish News calls it “a story of continuity and spirituality . . . an inspiring documentary.” And The Huffington Post notes that the film “reveals this history is relevant today, a time when there is a resurgence of interest in Polish- Jewish history, including among younger generations of Poles.” The film has been shown all over America, Canada, and Europe, and has garnered many awards, including the Best Film Audience Award at the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016: 7 PM Israel Independence Day, (Yom Ha Atzma’ut), begins at sundown, commemorating the declaration of independence of Israel in 1948. (Film followed by dessert reception)

Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Home Front (2014, English and Hebrew, with some subtitles)


This coming-of-age Israel/U.S. documentary film, directed by Wayne Kopping, follows the journey of five Israeli high school graduates who are drafted into the army to defend their country.   These eighteen-year-olds undergo a demanding, inspiring experience, revealing who they are and who they want to become. The film shows how these young men and women are training to be paratroopers, learning about their own beliefs and moral questions, and working to defend both their homeland and the values of peace, equality, democracy, religious tolerance, and women’s rights in Israel. The moral and cultural lessons these young Israelis learn during this journey are lessons that audiences can also grasp at a deep level. Reviewers note that Beneath the Helmet shows that Israeli soldiers are as diverse as Israel itself– black and white, secular and religious– and reveals the human, tolerant side of young Israelis. This film offers a “gentle, nuanced portrait” of the soldiers-in-training, and a reviewer in Tablet (the online Jewish news magazine) notes that the film “never feels like a mouthpiece for the IDF,” realistically portraying how the soldiers’ patriotic idealism is tempered by the “physical and psychological traumas” that these young military recruits must endure. The film has screened at Jewish film festivals and UJA events, in such venues as New York City, Chicago, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and Tel Aviv. It is a wonderful film to help us celebrate the birth of the state of Israel in 1948.


**As they are confirmed, short subjects, guest speakers, and post-film Q&A sessions and panel details will be posted on  with the individual film listings.



Peggy Pancoe Rosoff, Festival Co-Chair and PR Committee Chair –

Barbara Waxman, PR Committee Co-Chair and Film Selection Committee Member

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