Atlanta Jewish Film Festival announces festival winners  – Reporter Newspapers

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The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has announced winners for various awards from its 2022 line-up. 
The festival, which began Feb. 16 and ends Feb. 27, showcased over 50 films from 18 countries. The festival is currently offering free tickets to a virtual awards show recognizing six films across six different categories. Each winner was chosen from a group of five nominees by juries composed of filmmakers, journalists, students, and experts. 
The winners and nominees can be found below, and a virtual presentation of the awards can be found on the festival’s website. The awards will be available to view until Feb. 27. 
Emerging Filmmaker  
Pini Tavger, director of the film “More Than I Deserve,” won the Emerging Filmmaker Jury Prize. The other nominees included Violeta Salama for “Alegría,” Roman Shumunov for “Berenshtein,” Aurélie Saada for “Rose,” and Kaveh Nabatian for “Sin La Habana.”  
“More Than I Deserve” follows a mother and son who are new immigrants from the Ukraine as they prepare for the son’s Bar Mitzvah. Actress Tovah Feldshuh served on the jury for this award, and called the film “fearlessly directed.” 
“This is a beautifully acted story that has the uncanny courage to arouse genuine sentiment without a hint of sentimentality,” she said. 
“I wanted to thank … the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival jury for giving me the jury prize. Thank you very much,” said Tavger during his acceptance speech. “I also want to thank all the people who watched my film. I hope it touched your heart.” 
Building Bridges 
The film “The Levys of Monticello” won the festival’s Building Bridges Jury Prize, which is given to the film that best exemplifies the festival’s desire to foster understanding among diverse communities. The other nominees included “Neighbours,” “The Specials,” “The Swimmer,” and “Wet Dog.” 
The documentary details the history of a Jewish family who lived at Thomas Jefferson’s home. 
Jury member Rabbi Noam Marans of the American Jewish Committee called the film “a window to examine the history of Jewish and Black Americans.” 
“The process of coming to terms with our past resonates powerfully,” he said. 
Director Steven Pressman called the award an honor.
“I’m very proud of my film, which tells a remarkable story of a Jewish family that owned Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello for actually longer than Jefferson,” he said. “It’s also a film that talks about the disturbing history of antisemitism that runs throughout the course of American history.” 
Human Rights 
The Human Rights Jury Prize, which recognizes films about the pursuit of justice and equity, went to “Blue Box.” The other nominees were “Ahed’s Knee,” “The Crossing,” “Death of Zygielboym,” and “Women of Valor.”
“Blue Box”is a documentary that takes a deeper look at the uncomfortable truths surrounding the founding of Israel. 
“For the sensitive and artful examination of a little known and complex aspect of Israel’s history, ‘Blue Box’ asks us to question narratives in a way that does not diminish anyone’s humanity,” said jury member Naomi Kikoler of the Simon Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. “The filmmaker has effectively challenged herself to explore a difficult family narrative with universal implications.” 
Director Michal Weits thanked the jury for the award. 
“It is such a special award and it means a lot to me,” she said. 
“The Inspection” took home the Shorts Jury Prize. The other nominees included “Becoming Nakuset,” “My Kippah,” “Pops,” and “Winter of ‘79.” 
“The Inspection” is a French short film about a school inspector who confronts a history teacher about her approach to teaching the Holocaust. Jury member Opal H. Bennett, who works on the documentary series “POV,” spoke about the timely nature of the film. 
“‘In a time where book burnings are omnipresent and school boards are censoring historical writings, Florence Janas’ stand-out performance as a courageous educator illustrates the importance of speaking against injustice and teaching an unabridged view of our actual history in no uncertain terms,” Bennett said. 
Writers and directors Caroline Brami and Frédéric Bas both accepted the award.
“It’s a surprise and an honor for us, so thank you very much,” Brami said. 
“Three Minutes: A Lengthening,” which takes a closer look at amateur footage from 1938 Poland, took home the Documentary Jury Prize. The other nominees included “Bernstein’s Wall,” “Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen,” “Queen Shoshana,” and “A Tree of Life.” 
“In its forensic investigation of three minutes of amateur travel footage from 1938, director Bianca Stigter opens up a galaxy of histories relating to its fleeting, often smiling subjects, most of whom would be murdered soon after during the Holocaust,” said jury member Matt Severson of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “The filmmakers powerfully employ state of the art technology to bring back to life these people who would be otherwise lost.” 
Stigter said she was thrilled to win the prize and thanked the jury for her award. 
“Let It Be Morning” took home the biggest award of the night, the Narrative Jury Prize. The other nominees included “The Accusation,” “Charlotte,” “Image of Victory,” and “The Survivor.” 
Jury member Mara Lopez, senior vice president of Post Production at HBO, praised the film’s direction and casting. 
“In ‘Let It Be Morning,’ Eran Kolirin and his marvelous cast provide a unique, much needed look into the ambiguities and ambivalences, the yearnings and absurdities that govern the lives of Palestinians who live in Israel,” Lopez said. “The film explores the constraints on their lives imposed by Israel but also and more subtly those internalized by the Palestinian families themselves.” 
Kolirin, who directed the film, said he was honored to receive the award. 
Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers. More by Sammie Purcell


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