San Diego International Jewish Film Festival


2020 Joyce Forum Jewish Short Film Festival Jury Awards

Best Documentary
Image of Victory
Director, Adi Mishnayot

Best Narrative
The Book of Ruth
Director, Becca Roth / Writer/Executive Producer, Chen Drachman

Best Animated Film
David and Goliath

Director, Mor-Moshe Ashkenazi

Best Director
Letters to God
Director, Yves Cohen

Special Juror’s Award
Mum’s Hairpins
Director, Tatiana Fedorovskaya

2020 Joyce Forum Jewish Short Film Festival Jury comments

Mark Title
Juror

Best Director
Letters to God
Director, Yves Cohen
We occasionally have dark times in our lives when all, even G-d, seems to be lost. In this beautiful and redeeming story one man is in such a place when he takes a job in a Jerulsalem post office that receives thousands of letters addressed to G-d each year. The film is beautiful, brilliant, concise, and moving - all thanks to the Director, Yves Cohen. A Director's vision guides every aspect of a film, from interpreting the script and setting the tone to guiding the actors and the camera, the sound and music, and the final editing, all in capturing the essence and emotion of the story. This heartfelt film by Yves Cohen is not to be missed.

Best Animated Film
David and Goliath
Director, Mor-Moshe Ashkenazi
We all find a sense of wonder in animated films and David and Goliath fills our wonder miraculously. This is an extraordinary, engaging, and fresh retelling of the classic tale, David & Goliath. The animation is bold yet simple, with clean lines and full colors, cartoonish at humorous points yet powerfully foreboding in the dramatic scenes. Full of clever screen gems, with a powerful and suspenseful score, we found this film compelling and delightful.

Laurie Baron
Juror

Special Juror’s Award
Mum’s Hairpins
Director, Tatiana Fedorovskaya
The objects we associate with our parents and childhood possess sentimental value. The hairpins Yasha’s mother uses to pit cherries have greater utility. An idyllic scene of his mother and sister pitting cherries and him picking the cherries for them abruptly ends with the arrival of German soldiers who kill his family and burn his home. He flees into the forest followed by a wounded goat. As they evade the Germans together, he discovers that hairpins can excise bullets, open locks, and be bent into a shape that placates a suspicious Nazi. Classical music and a Yiddish lullaby evoke the mood of key scenes. True to its Russian cinematic origins, the film links diverse elements of its story in a collage of symbols. The closing scene returns the hairpins to their original purpose as Yasha presides over the pitting of cherries by his grandchildren.

Best Narrative
The Book of Ruth
Director, Becca Roth
A Jewish family gathers together for a Pesach Seder at the secluded country home of its matriarch Ruth. Brilliantly played by Tovah Feldshuh, Ruth appears to be a modern and vibrant grandmother. Her granddaughter Lizzy suspects that Ruth’s cheery persona masks a darker past and surmises that Ruth is really Anne Frank. After Lizzy interrogates Ruth about her real identity, Ruth admits that Lizzy’s suspicion is correct. Nevertheless, Ruth resists Lizzy’s urging that she share her secret with the world fearing this would shatter the idealized image of Anne millions of people possess and the hope it engenders in them. After Lizzy goes to sleep, Ruth makes a phone call exposing to the audience an aspect of her hidden past that she had concealed from Lizzie. The surprise ending belongs to a tradition found in many of the best short films.

Lynette Allen
Juror

Best Documentary
Image of Victory
Director, Adi Mishnayot
Image of Victory follows the story of Uri (the filmmaker's brother), who becomes a reluctant war hero after being injured in the 2014 Gaza conflict. The documentary provides a shocking reality check with actual footage of the battle up to the moment of Uri’s injury. We also get a glimpse into what the war is doing to the other side. The filmmaker uses raw footage to tell the story without use of voiceovers or interviews. A few brief intertitles introduce and conclude the film. As troves of well-wishers visit Uri during his hospital stay, the camera poignantly captures the emotional response of Uri’s family and also a glimpse of how war, as a state-of–mind, is shaping Israeli society. The filmmaker has expertly given the audience an honest and intimate view of how ongoing conflict impacts life in Israel.

 

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