Keeping the Faith

U Film Society's Jewish Film Festival delivers a celluloid shalom for the age of kabala chic

Alisa Lebow and Cynthia Madansky's excellent identity-interrogating riff on Jewish dykedom is a shining example of why gays and lesbians are at the forefront of reinvigorating American Jewishness. By creatively telling their story as a sort of Jewish odd couple--from their first Passover seder connection to the 100-person Jewish lesbian meet-and-greet they organize--Lebow and Madansky turn "treyf" (the Yiddish designation for unkosher food) into a symbol of empowering difference. The film's most welcome moment is a trip to Jerusalem, which, far from generating yet another propagandistic Israeli romance, launches the kind of informed and conflicted critique of Zionism that has become a trademark of stateside Queer Yiddishkeit. (Kun) Tuesday, December 1 through Thursday, December 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Roger Kamenetz's: The Jew in the Lotus
Roger Kamenetz's: The Jew in the Lotus

The festival's hands-down must-see, Eytan Fox's television series Florentene makes me want to go to Israel, and I've never wanted to go to Israel. A prime-time soap opera about a magnetic circle of twentysomethings living in a hip Tel Aviv neighborhood (the festival screens the first six episodes), it's like nothing you will ever see on American TV. Forget Melrose Place--Florentene glows with expert acting, super-smart and witty writing, fully drawn characters, palpable political agendas, and, because Israel's two-channel system is still too unorganized to censor everything it screens, beautifully shot and refreshingly matter-of-fact depictions of gay love and gay sex. The same flair for juggling the personal with the political that Fox brought to Time Off and Gotta Have Heart makes Florentene an un-Friends in which a young film student can come out to his parents while they watch the Rabin funeral on TV. (Kun) Sunday, December 6 at 1:30 p.m.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Jewish Film Festival runs at Bell Auditorium (corner of University Avenue and 17th Avenue S.E. in Mpls.) through December 13 (with the exception of November 20 and 26). Screening dates and times are subject to change. For more information, call U Film Society at 627-4430.

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