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Jewish film festival returns for 13th year

  • “Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross” will be screened Monday, March 26 at 7 p.m. at the Garden Cinemas in Greenfield. Submitted Photo

  • “My Mexican Shiva” will be screened on Saturday, March 17 at 8 p.m. in Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls. Submitted Photo

  • “Fanny’s Journey” will be screened Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m. at the Garden Cinemas in Greenfield. Submitted Photo



Recorder Staff
Friday, March 16, 2018

At age 14, Steve Ross had managed to survive 10 Nazi concentration camps when, as an emaciated boy in a striped uniform, he was rescued from Dachau by a U.S. Army lieutenant who jumped down from his tank and hugged the young, beaming teenager.

That moment, forever engrained in Ross’ memory, led him as an orphan who had been adopted and moved to Boston, to seek out his rescuer. The story of survival against all odds, and his strive to express his gratitude and share his story with young people is at the heart of the film, “Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross.”

The documentary will be screened in Greenfield on Monday as a part of this year’s 13th annual Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival, running through March 27.

The festival will include 25 film screenings in 18 venues in 10 cities and towns around the three-county region — including “Fanny’s Journey,” inspired by the true story of 11 orphans led by one brave girl through Nazi-occupied France, screening at Greenfield’s Garden Cinemas on Monday at 7 p.m., and Saturday’s 8 p.m. Shelburne Falls screening of the comedy, “My Mexican Shivah” at Memorial Hall. A 7:30 p.m. performance by the Wholesale Klezmer Band will precede Saturday’s showing.

Running the gamut from “Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me” and “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,” to “East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem” about singer-songwriter David Broza’s work to connect Jewish and Arab communities through music, the festival includes film showings in 10 cities and towns across Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties, according to coordinator Daniel Yalowitz of Greenfield.

The critically acclaimed films are meant not only to entertain, but also to provide opportunities for reflection, discussion, and a deeper understanding of universal themes such as identity and belonging, interfaith relations, women’s roles in religion and society, conflict and reconciliation in the Middle East, social justice and civic engagement.

And the festival is for everyone, Jew and non-Jew alike. Visiting filmmakers, panel discussions and other special events are designed to inspire community dialogue both within and outside of the Jewish community.

“There’s something — and more — for everyone,” Yalowitz said. “This year’s lineup of films is even more staggeringly extraordinary than those of past years.”

“Etched in Glass,” which will be shown March 26 at Greenfield’s Garden Cinemas at 7 p.m., with co-producer and editor Tony Bennis on hand to answer questions, tells the story of how Ross was inspired by the soldier who rescued him to later become a youth worker, helping to save the lives of hundreds of at-risk young people in Massachusetts.
   He also became a fixture at swearing-in ceremonies for new U.S. citizens, where he would talk about American patriotism, tell the story of that heroic soldier’s act of kindness and display the little American flag that Lt. Steve Sattler presented to him when he was liberated at Dachau. Ross did not discover the identity of Sattler, who had been a Michigan farmer, until after his death in 1986.

Ross became the driving force, and founder, of the iconic New England Holocaust Memorial featuring six tall glass towers with six million numbers etched in the glass, representing those tattooed on the arms of concentration camp prisoners.

“When I first heard the story of Steve Ross, I knew his remarkable life of determination and his persistent fight against intolerance was a story that needed to be told,” said writer-director-producer Roger Lyons. “I didn’t realize that it would take 17 years to complete the project, but the story took many turns, and it wasn’t clear how it was going to end until an amazing sequence of events took place a few years ago in Massachusetts that led to the dramatic conclusion.”

The film won audience awards for “Best Documentary” at the 2017 Rhode Island International Film Festival and Boston Jewish Film Festival.

The full festival schedule is as follows:

Saturday, March 17

“Shelter,” 8 p.m. at Longmeadow High School, 95 Grassy Gutter Road, Longmeadow.

“My Mexican Shiva,” 8 p.m. at Memorial Hall, 51 Bridge St., Shelburne Falls.

Sunday, March 18

“Ben-Gurion, Epilogue,” 11 a.m. at the Springfield Jewish Community Center, 1160 Dickinson St., Springfield.

“The Settlers,” 2 p.m. at the Springfield Jewish Community Center.

“Scaffolding,” 7 p.m. at Amherst Cinema, 28 Amity St., Amherst.

Monday, March 19

“East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem,” 7 p.m. at Westfield State University.

“Fanny’s Journey,” 7 p.m. at the Garden Cinemas, 361 Main St., Greenfield.

Tuesday, March 20

“There Are Jews Here,” 1:30 p.m. at the Springfield Jewish Community Center.

“Raise the Roof,” 7 p.m. at Elms College.

Wednesday, March 21

“Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross,” 7 p.m. at Springfield College.

“GI Jews: Jewish Americans in WWII,” 7:30 p.m. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Thursday, March 22

“Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe,” 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Amherst College.

“Fanny’s Journey,” 7 p.m. at Western New England University.

Friday, March 23

“Sammy David Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me,” 1:30 p.m. at Glenmeadow Retirement, 24 Tabor Crossing, Longmeadow.

“An American Tail,” 5 p.m. at the Lander-Grinspoon Academy, 257 Prospect St., Northampton.

Saturday, March 24

“Big Sonia,” 8 p.m. at Smith College.

Sunday, March 25

“Menashe,” 2 p.m. at the Yiddish Book Center, 1021 West St., Amherst.

“Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,” 7 p.m. at Mount Holyoke College.

Monday, March 26

“Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross,” 7 p.m. at the Garden Cinemas.

“GI Jews: Jewish Americans in WWII,” 7 p.m. at the Springfield Jewish Community Center.

Tuesday, March 27

“Keep the Change,” 7 p.m. at Rave Cinema, Riverdale Street, West Springfield.

Film trailers and discounted film passes are available at www.pvjff.org.