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Victoria International Jewish Film Festival returns to full program

The event, presented by the Jewish Community Centre of Victoria, includes free in-person screenings at The Vic Theatre, along with online offerings.
Shlomo Bar-Aba, right, stars as a widower who turns to cannabis distribution in the comedy Greener Pastures, which is among the films at the Victoria International Jewish Film Festival this week. FIRMA FILMS


Where: The Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas St.

When: Nov. 1-6

Admission: Free

The shifting nature of events programming during the past two years has put the Victoria International Jewish Film Festival on a new path for its eighth edition.

The event, which is presented by the Jewish Community Centre of Victoria, runs for a record six days this week, with free in-person screenings at The Vic Theatre on most evenings through the week and others airing on the festival’s virtual cinema portal. A bigger program means more visibility in the community, which is a welcome turn of events after two years of pandemic uncertainty and scaled-down festivals in 2020 and 2021.

“Being forced to change the format, we’re seeing more and more new [attendees] each year because of it,” said Deborah Bricks, who co-produces the festival with Farley Cates. “We’re definitely growing, in terms of people knowing about the festival.”

A slate of cross-cultural programming featuring films with Jewish and Jewish-adjacent themes includes offerings from Germany (the film Wet Dog), Spain (Alegría), Israel (More Than I Deserve; Greener Pastures; One More Story), Canada (The Mind of a Child), the United States (A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff: The Film), and Sweden (Kindertransports to Sweden).

Five films will be screened in-person at The Vic Theatre, with three others appearing exclusively online. There is also a family program, and pre- and post-film discussions with filmmakers and special guests. Pre-show live music and in-theatre food and beverages celebrating Jewish and Middle Eastern cuisine are other additions to the revamped celebration.

“We used to do two or three films in a day and compress it into four days. Now, we’ve extended it slightly and made it more diverse, in terms of the kind of things we can do,” Bricks said.

When festival founder Sandra Glass conceived the idea for the festival, “there was reluctance in the community, thinking it might not work,” Bricks said. “But it did.” Bricks and Cates have begun to broaden the audience base, not only with people in the Victoria Jewish community but from the area as a whole, she added.

The 2022 festival is highlighted by themes of reconciliation, recovery, and repair. The films stand on their own, and offer both political and personal statements. No further commentary is needed on the matter, Bricks said.

“We really try to be non-religious. The festival isn’t there to take a political stance, one way or another. The [selection committee] is diverse, the people attending are diverse. It’s really about the art and putting that into the world. And art is there to question and create conversation and dialogue.”

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