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 SPRINGFIELD, MA (January 12, 2021) – The Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival, presented by the Springfield Jewish Community Center, marks its 16th year with a virtual mini-festival that kicks off February 6 and runs through March 22, 2021. The 2020 festival was postponed due to COVID-19, just days before launching last year. 

PVJFF will present seven online film screenings, as the festival continues its tradition of showcasing some of the best independent Jewish cinema from around the world. Thought-provoking Zoom discussions are planned for nearly all of the films, featuring directors, screenwriters, and experts on an array of topics of cultural and historical significance. This year’s festival includes an eclectic mix of dramas and documentaries, plus a short film. 

“As always, PVJFF films promise to stir emotions and inspire conversations,” said Deb Krivoy, Springfield JCC Chief Operating Officer and Festival Director. “This year, we’re thrilled to offer an engaging, virtual festival that can bring people together in the safest possible way.” 

Two powerful dramas anchor the film festival: 

  • • Dror Zahavi’s Crescendo is about a world-famous conductor (played by Toni Erdmann’s Peter Simonischek) who accepts the job to create an Israeli-Palestinian youth orchestra and steps into a firestorm of conflict as he tries to bring the two factions of young musicians together in harmony. Crescendo screenwriter Stephen Glantz will lead a Q&A about the film. 
  • • The inspiring biopic The Keeper tells the incredible true story of Bert Trautmann, a German POW who, amid much protest and prejudice, secures the position of goalkeeper at Manchester City and becomes a soccer icon. His signing causes outrage among thousands of fans, many of them Jewish, until Manchester’s communal rabbi intervenes on his behalf. 

This year’s festival showcases an array of enlightening documentaries, including: 

  • It Must Schwing!: The Blue Note Story follows two young émigrés from Berlin who founded the legendary jazz label Blue Note Records, which produced jazz stars Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, and more. 
  • Picture of His Life is a riveting documentary about acclaimed Israeli underwater wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum, who has always dreamed of swimming underwater with a polar bear and capturing it face-to-face on film. 
  • • The short documentary Commandment 613 profiles Northampton’s Rabbi Kevin Hale, who has dedicated his life to the 613th biblical commandment – to write a Torah scroll. As a sofer (Jewish scribe), Rabbi Hale brings new life to Torah scrolls saved from Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust. Producer/director Miriam Lewin, cinematographer/editor Randi Cecchine, and Rabbi Hale, and will lead a virtual discussion. 

The 2021 Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival is free of charge, but organizers are encouraging donations to support the ongoing work of the PVJFF. 

Registration is required for all of the online screenings and virtual discussions. For a complete list of films and instructions on how to watch them, and to register for the festival programs, visit pvjff.org. 

The Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival is a nonprofit arts festival, presented by the Springfield Jewish Community Center with support from the following major sponsors: Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, Totsy Foundation, Basketball Hall of Fame, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Yiddish Book Center, Harold Grinspoon Foundation, Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, Lathrop Communities, and Tower Square Hotel. 

For more information, visit the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival online at pvjff.org. 

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