Press release
Berlin/Potsdam, 6 July 2018

24th Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Brandenburg closes with Gershon Klein Film Prizes for THE CAKEMAKER and IN HER FOOTSTEPS.

The Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Brandenburg traditionally honors directors with the three Gershon Klein Film Prizes, which are endowed by the Klein family with € 7,000 annually. The prizes – "Best Feature Film Director," "Best Documentary Director," and "Special Commendation Award for a German Film on a Jewish Topic" – are awarded by three different juries. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, exclusively Israeli films were nominated for Best Feature Film.

The jury of critics of the 24th Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Brandenburg, whose members this year were internationally renowned film journalists Hannah Brown (Jerusalem Post), Alissa Simon (Palm Springs International Film Festival), and Katja Nicodemus (Die Zeit), awarded director Ofir Raul Graizer "Best Feature Film Director" for his feature film THE CAKEMAKER.

The jury explained: "THE CAKEMAKER, Ofir Raul Graizer's feature film debut, is a thoughtful, moving story that illuminates the connections between Berlin and Jerusalem, Germans and Jews, heterosexuality and gayness, betrayal and forgiveness, religious faith and secularism, and love and loss. Infused with the sensuality of sex and food, its characters display an engaging humanity as they struggle to define themselves and to cope with contradictions and attractions they only gradually understand. THE CAKEMAKER is a beautifully photographed and acted movie that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll."

THE CAKEMAKER will come to movie theaters in Germany in early November.

The Radio Eins Listeners' Jury—Britta Schöning, India von Löwis, and Hikaru Suzuki—awarded Rana Abu Fraiha, who presented IN HER FOOTSTEPS at the JFBB, Best Documentary Director.

The jury explained: "IN HER FOOTSTEPS is a courageous film that examines the universal topics of identity, belonging, and home in a very personal way. Director Rana Abu Fraiha grants viewers an intimate look at her family's inner turmoil, thereby opening up a new perspective on the tensions within Israeli society. The conflict about where her mother is to be buried, which threatens to tear the family apart, becomes a symbol of the women's self-assertion. As a Muslim Israeli, Rana Abu Fraiha must forge her own path, just as her mother did. We hope that this extraordinary story touches many more viewers."

At the opening gala of the 24th Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Brandenburg, an Honorary Panel, whose members were Esther Schapira and Georg M. Hafener, gave a "Special Commendation Award for a German Film on a Jewish Topic." DIE UNSICHTBAREN—WIR WOLLEN LEBEN by Claus Räfle and MOHAMMED UND ANNA by Taliya Finkel. DIE UNSICHTBAREN—WIR WOLLEN LEBEN is a 2017 feature film, partly documentary, that takes up Jewish refugees going underground in Berlin during the Second World War. The leading roles are played by Max Mauff, Alice Dwyer, Ruby O. Fee, and Aaron Altaras.

The documentary MOHAMMED UND ANNA tells the story of Egyptian physician Mohamed Helmy, who risked his life during the Nazi period when he saved 17-year-old Anna Boros and her Jewish family from the ongoing threat of deportation from 1941 until the end of the war.

Jacqueline Hopp and Madeleine Budde, the daughters of Gerhard Klein, commented, "While watching these two films, we remembered the words of our mother Jenny Kahane buried deep in our subconscious: 'I didn't look anybody in the eye when I was on the street," or: 'I never turned around to see passersby. That was much too dangerous.' She spoke only seldom about living illegally in Berlin during the Nazi period—and yet, we could distinctly sense as children how deeply these years had left their mark on her life. She was one of the 7,000 Jews who survived illegally in Berlin because there were people who were willing to help. Thank you for these two films, and thank you for putting a face on our mother's words!"

In the week prior to the official opening of the festival, the JFBB, in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft e.V., the Federal Press Office, and the Filmmuseum Potsdam, screened MOHAMMED UND ANNA at schools in Berlin und Potsdam and discussed the film with 8th-grade and older students. The director was present at the screenings and spoke with them about the film. 10,000 DVDs with the film version for schools will be sent to schools in Germany this year on behalf of the Federal Press Office and the Deutsche Gesellschaft e.V.

The prizes are dedicated to Gerhard Klein, who died at 79 in 1999. Klein was a “movie legend” in Berlin. The arthouse theater “Capitol Dahlem” in Berlin-Zehlendorf is his creation. After its establishment in 1956, it became a popular meeting place and an institution in the heart of West Berlin's student district. Klein, who came from a Jewish bourgeois family from Berlin, had been a child actor himself, working on stage and in film. His roles included the professor in Erich Kästner's stage version of EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES and a leading role in Max Ophüls's first talking film DANN SCHON LIEBER LEBERTRAN. In 1933, the Nazis barred him from the profession as a Jew. In 1939, he succeeded in fleeing to Palestine, where he worked on a kibbuz and co-founded the avant-garde Teatron Kameri in Tel Aviv, which still exists today. He never saw his parents again. In 1952, Klein returned to Germany. He received numerous awards for his sophisticated programming at Capitol Dahlem, including the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Nicola Galliner, Festival Director of the JFBB: "My warmest thanks to the juries, who have made excellent choices, or, to remain in the Jewish cosmos, have issued judgments of Solomon. As the festival closes, I am pleased to announce that we have experienced a truly successful film festival this year. Numerous screenings were sold out despite the glorious weather and the World Cup, and this is true of both feature films and documentaries, which are particularly close to my heart because it is more difficult for them to find an audience. I am also pleased that the audience was very interested and engaged in the discussions following the screenings with the festival's guests from around the world. We succeeded in bringing the producer, the director, or a protagonist of almost all of the festival's films to Berlin and Brandenburg. I am looking forward to the 25th Jewish Film Festival next year, even if it will not be easy to top this year's success."

Under the motto "No fake Jews," 42 feature films, documentaries, and short films, including 13 films by women directors, were screened from 26 June to 5 July.
The Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Brandenburg has been the largest forum for Jewish and Israeli cinema in Germany for almost a quarter of a century. Featuring current Jewish films as well as educational and cultural events, it provides insights into the diversity and multifaceted nature of Jewish life around the world, commemorates the Shoah, and takes an active stand against open as well as increasingly common veiled anti-Semitism. In this way, the festival takes up highly current topics relevant to society time and again. The festival presents the entire range of current cinema—from sophisticated independent and arthouse films to documentaries to essayistic and experimental work.

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