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Michigan State University’s Jewish Studies Program is hosting its 13th annual Israeli Film Festival, which features four award-winning films and a keynote discussion led by Nachumi Yaffe from Princeton University.
Yael Aronoff, director of the Jewish Studies Program, says that engaging the Jewish community and people who are interested in its history will crack open an important discussion.
“Many community members who aren’t Jewish are still interested, because these are fantastic films and it’s something they can’t see in a regular movie theater,” said Aronoff.
The Jewish Studies Program’s goal on campus is to educate and bring together a community of people to study the culture and history of Jewish people. Its annual film festival’s purpose is to educate its audience about Israel’s sociopolitical climate.
Each year, the film festival committee previews contemporary Jewish films or documentaries and votes the four best to show. This year’s selection includes, “A Quiet Heart,” “An Israeli Love Story,” “The Women’s Balcony” and “Ben Gurion, Epilogue.”
Aronoff believes that introducing people to another culture through means outside of a passé Hollywood film is a great way to provide context for outsiders. Her concern is that the majority of media has set a negative perception of Jewish people and their experiences.
“Art has a different impact on people,” said MSU assistant professor of Hebrew Yore Kedem. “The media is used as a sole source for understanding Israel life and that is a shallow place. A film creates a deeper understanding and can help people see that things aren’t black and white in Israel, but in many shades of color.”
“In a space together with non-Jewish members, it’s a great way to examine universal issues together through different cultural aspects,” said Aronoff.
Offering a greater understanding of Jewish culture and its challenges is a big portion of what’s important to the film festival. Kedem believes film festivals show different aspects of complex places.
“All emotional connections aren’t positive. Some connections cause people to be more woke than before and that is my goal when I lead discussion — to give insight,” said Kedem.
13th Annual Israeli Film Festival
April 15 1-8:45 p.m. Wells Hall B-122 619 Red Cedar Rd., East Lansing 48824
April 16 7:30-9:15 p.m. Wells Hall B-117