As the city’s largest film festival – and one of the biggest of its kind in the world – the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival traditionally has its share of LGBTQ features. Last year, the festival hosted the Israeli film “The Cakemaker,” one of 2018’s best LGBTQ films. This year’s event, running Feb 6 – 26 at various Atlanta venues, is no exception, with documentaries and features that should appeal to queer audiences.
One of the festival’s major LGBTQ films is “Family in Transition.” In it, a family in Israel goes through significant changes when Amit tells his wife Galit – with whom they have four children – that he wants to become a woman. In the film, shot over two years by director Ofir Trainin, the immediate family is accepting but other relatives – and members of the community – are not. Amit and Galit have some difficulties through the journey. This absorbing documentary is more about the emotional transition Amit has to go through than the physical ones. The film’s star, Amit Tsuk, will be in attendance for select screenings.
Amanda Sthers’s “Holy Lands” is one of the more high-profile films in the festival. It stars James Caan as Harry, a doctor who leaves his American life behind to become an Israeli pig farmer. His son in the film (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is gay and has written about a play about his family’s dysfunctions. The character is richly detailed – he had his first experience with another man around the time of 9/11, and he confesses he felt like the towers were his fault. Caan is a lively center of this comedy/drama, even if he proves to be the least interesting element. Luckily, the rest of the characters, including Rosanna Arquette as Harry’s ex-wife and Efrat Dor as his thirty-something student daughter, have more dimensions.
Another feature is “Shooting Life,” directed by David Kreiner. It centers around Yigal, a middle-aged divorced man who’s taken a job teaching filmmaking to students, near the Gaza Strip amidst exploding missiles. At first, the students are wary of him, but they grow to like him. He challenges them to share their worlds and lives in their films, and they learn to do so. One of the students turns out to be gay and gets the confidence to have a boyfriend and introduce him to others. If it has some predictable moments, “Shooting Life” is made endearing by its ensemble cast.
Finally, Francesco Zippel’s, “Friedkin Uncut,” examines the life and work of the prolific filmmaker William Friedkin, the man behind such classics as “The Exorcist” and “The French Connection.” Not all of his oeuvre was acclaimed, however. His gay-themed serial killer film “Cruising” with Al Pacino was heavily criticized within the LGBTQ community, and the documentary looks at that controversy.
“Family in Transition”
Feb. 16 at 6:05pm at UA Tara Cinemas
Feb. 17 at 1:30pm at Regal Perimeter Pointe
Feb. 18 at 2:10pm at UA Tara Cinemas
Feb. 9 at 6:10pm at Regal Atlantic Station
Feb. 10 at 4:45pm at City Springs
Feb. 10 at 8:10pm at Regal Atlantic Station
Feb. 15 at 1:55pm at City Springs
Feb. 23 at 1:10pm at Regal Perimeter Pointe
Feb. 18 at 4:30pm at the UA Tara Cinemas
Feb. 24 at 3:50pm at Regal Perimeter Pointe
Feb. 12 at 7pm at Regal Perimeter Pointe
Feb. 20 at 3pm at Regal Perimeter Pointe