Communique: 3 Films For 3 Thursdays | Jewish Film Summer Fest

Aug 9, 2017

Wilmington Jewish Film Festival Summer Series presents 3 films over the next 3 Thursdays: Rock in the Red Zone, a documentary, on August 10; The People vs. Fritz Bauer, a historical drama, on August 17; and Moos, a romantic comedy, on August 24. Showtime is 7:00 at Thalian Hall's Main Stage, and a dessert reception follows each screening.

Mimi Kessler & Barry Salwen from the Wilmington Jewish Film Festival
Credit WHQR/gg

Barry Salwen and Mimi Kessler, co-chairs of the Festival Selection Committee, joined us in the studio-and they fit a description of all three films into less than four minutes. Listen above and see the extended transcript below.

Tickets are available at the Thalian Hall Box Office and online

Extended transcript:

Gina:  What is your role with the Jewish Film Festival?

Barry: We're the co-chairs of the film selection committee. It's a big job. And so we have two people on it. And you could call that the core of the festival in the sense that its mission is to show films. A lot of other people are also involved.

Gina: So you two selected these three films for the summer festival?

Barry: Yes and no. It's a committee. There's a committee of 10 people; we head that committee. But I would never want to take sole credit because a group of people are involved in that process. Eventually, yes we were the ones who picked them, but we also worked with the recommendations of the committee. 

Gina: OK. So let's see if in three minutes we can talk about all three of these films. Mimi tell me which one is your favorite.

Mimi: Of the three films, probably the last, which is "Moos," a Dutch film focused on a young woman who is taking care of her father after the loss of his wife, her mother, and trying to get a career started at the same time.

Gina: Yeah, I saw the trailer---very funny, looks very, very funny.

Mimi: It's a few laughs, yes.

Barry: It's a music career, by the way, which makes me very happy.

Gina: And her family is not really behind her about her aspirations to be in the theater world.

Mimi: More concerned about her lack of talent.

Barry: Yes. She flunks her first audition. So there's an issue of capability here as well as the, you know, the nature of the ambition itself.

Barry: It's fun, don't miss it.

Gina: And, Barry, which one is your favorite?

Barry: I don't know. I like all of them for different reasons. So I'm not sure I have a favorite. There is Rock in the Red Zone. And it's both music and Israel, and those are two of my first loves. So it brings together a kind of state of life crisis in a small Israeli town called Sderot, which some people may have heard of because it's just over half mile, about a kilometer, from the Gaza border and it's been the object of thousands of rocket attacks from there. So life is very much colored by that, against which background are an intensive music making scene has arisen kind of a response to the conditions of threat and trauma that exist there. So it's a very interesting kind of dual scene going on. There's risk to life and limb and there's also this creative, artistic ferment happening. So I like that a lot. And it has a happy ending. I won't tell you what it is, but it has a very nice ending. You'll enjoy.

Gina: The music also seems really interesting from what I could gather from the trailer.  It's not one kind of music.

Barry: Well yeah, there's a big difference in style from rock to kind of folk and ethnic. “Rock" is just-they needed a single word for the title. But, yeah it differs a lot in style, but the common link tends to be reactions to living under those conditions and in one form or another. So it just kind of it speaks to people's direct experiences on an everyday level, and yes exactly, there's this big diversity of musical types and talent poking out of every wall in every club.

Gina: And then The People vs. Fritz Bauer. That looks really interesting. Of course, it's based on a true story.

Barry: Yes.

Gina: And Fritz Bauer-what an interesting man.

Barry: Yes. Yeah, it's a heavy duty, a heavy duty, very German drama. But it is, after all, about inner German events. And Fritz Bauer had been in a concentration camp, but only for a short time, and he spent the war in exile. And later as a prosecutor, he attempted to prosecute Nazis. And the reason for the title, which actually in the German means what we call here "the people" as in "the judicial process of the state against." Because he's effectively opposing the national establishment. Many former Nazis are in government positions and he's being stonewalled. There's no support really for what he's trying to do. But the untold story that's more recently come to light is he was instrumental in the capturing of Eichmann in Argentina. He was the one who gave the Mossad the evidence initially that enabled them to pursue him. So it's a very, very intriguing and ultimately very dramatic story.

Gina: This is a new-this is a new insight. I'm sure some scholars know the intricacies and how Fritz Bauer was involved, but I think a lot of people don't know who Fritz Bauer is and don't know the role that he played. He also was gay.

Barry: Yes. In an era when homosexuality was still seriously punishable in Germany-they still had the Nazi era rules on the books concerning homosexuality, so that was serious imprisonment if it came out. And that was one of the reasons he was at risk because he could have been exposed in that, among other problems you know involved in the investigation.  But they did they did capture Eichmann, which actually was kind of epochal they did it, given where he was, given the seriousness of his crimes, given the irony of his being tried and convicted in Israel…it is actually still a major event and you know the testimony that came forth is still hard to believe what you hear.

Mimi: And we're going to tell you no more on that one because we want you to come see.

Barry: Oh I didn't I didn't divulge-you actually don't see the capture and you only hear that had happened. So we haven't we haven't divulged…you really have to see the unfolding of the drama. And that will be left to your experience.

Gina: One of the attractions of the film is just seeing the personality of Fritz Bauer. He’s a character, larger than life character.

Barry: Yes, definitely a character.

Gina: And then after each film there are desserts.

Mimi: There's always a dessert reception, which is very nice because it then gives people a chance to discuss the films or just visit. A nice conclusion.

Barry: Yeah, it's a social event, kind of a special characteristic that's not typical after films-- that opportunity to get together and schmooze and feast a little bit. It's something special we offer.

Gina: It's typical at the Jewish Film Festival.

Barry: It is.

Mimi: A little nosh.

Gina: And are you all talking yet about next year's selections?

Mimi: We have already begun previewing some of the films that have come up this summer and we'll be sharing them with the rest of the Committee. It's going to be a long trek between now and spring.

Gina: Do you know how many films for next year yet?

Mimi: It's pretty much decided that we will be showing nine films and possibly a few shorts with them. Nine films are what we did this past Festival this past spring. And it was well-attended.

Gina: So, for now: three Thursdays, three films. Seven o'clock.

Mimi: At Thalian Hall.

Barry:  Yes, three very different films. “Moos” is a comedy about the girl trying to build a career.  “Fritz Bauer” is a historical drama, and “Rock in the Red Zone” sits in between. It has  its heavy moments, it has its inspiring musical moments of romance…and it would be enjoyable to see all three. They complement one another.

Gina: Do you know what the desserts are going to be?

Mimi: Well we almost always include rugelach, homemade rugelach from the hospitality committee, and coffee and other pastries.

Barry: It's a little dessert reception, there's always enough for everybody. You can even get seconds.