Home News Natasha to Open Toronto Jewish Film Festival

Natasha to Open Toronto Jewish Film Festival


(April 19, 2016 – Toronto, ON) The Canadian feature Natasha has been selected to open the 24th annual Toronto Jewish Film Festival running from May 5 to 15. This year’s festival has 4 World Premieres, 11 North American and 31 Canadian Premieres, while 12 films will be seen in Toronto for the first time.

Natasha is from multi-award-winning author and filmmaker David Bezmozgis (Victoria Day). It’s a coming-of-age story of forbidden summer love between a suburban Jewish teenager and his cousin-by-marriage, a recent émigré from Russia with a troubled past. Knowing no English and having no friends, Natasha is charged to Mark’s care by his mother. As they explore Toronto, she and Mark become inseparable. This tale of migration, romance and acceptance

Natasha, 2015 movie poster
Poster for Natasha courtesy of Mongrel Media.
explores the modern life of Toronto’s Russian Jewish community through the eyes and imagination of one of the city’s most beloved writers. The cast features a mixture of Russian, Canadian and Russian-Canadian actors. Learn more and watch the trailer for Natasha on Northernstars.ca.

The 24th TJFF boasts an impressive feature film slate, including: Atomic Falafel, which has been called an Israeli Dr. Strangelove as it tackles the Israel-Iran nuclear showdown; fresh off its Berlinale and Tribeca premieres, The Tenth Man, filmmaker Daniel Burman’s (Lost Embrace) low-key romantic comedy about a New York-based economist who returns to the old Jewish Buenos Aires neighbourhood where his father runs a charitable foundation that looks after the community’s needy; a Sundance hit, Princess, an audacious feature debut by newcomer Tali Shalom Ezer that offers a bold coming-of-age story; Freak Out, a playful Israeli horror comedy, part of the country’s growing wave of genre filmmaking; writer Sayed Kashua’s (Dancing Arabs) autobiographical TV series The Writer, a follow up to his very successful TV comedy Arab Labor; the screen adaptation of Amos Oz’ memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, starring and directed by Natalie Portman; and Raphael Nadjari’s Night Song, an elegant drama set in Montreal, starring Luc Picard.

An equally compelling documentary selection will be presented at the 2016 edition of the Festival. The titles include: Hagiga – The Story of Israeli Cinema, a 2-part inside look at this young country’s rich cinematic history; Imaginary Feasts, a powerful exploration of the little-known phenomenon of prisoners secretly sharing their favourite recipes in Nazi concentration camps, Russian gulags and Japanese war camps; Last Folio, which follows Slovakian-Canadian photographer Yuri Dojc as he undertakes a personal, artistic and historical journey into the past and present of Slovakia’s Jewish community; and That Daughter’s Crazy, where Richard Pryor’s daughter, Rain, explores her experience as a Black-Jewish young woman in Los Angeles in the 1970s.

TJFF’s lineup will also tell the stories of some of the 20th century’s most interesting figures: Bette Midler’s journey from pineapple processing plant employee to film and stage star is told in Imagine… The Divine Miss M; Albert Einstein’s unpublished journals written during his trip to Israel help retrace the famous physicist’s steps in Einstein in the Holy Land; shown at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, By Sidney Lumet entertainingly covers the life and career of the director of Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and Serpico; in I, Dalio or The Rules of the Game, celebrated filmmaker Mark Rappaport (From the Journals of Jean Seberg, Rock Hudson’s Home Movies) examines the life and work of French-Jewish character actor Marcel Dalio (Casablanca, Grand Illusion); and Marcie Begleiter’s beautifully-constructed biography of a trailblazing artist, Eva Hesse offers a unique window onto the New York art scene of the Sixties.

Some remarkable Canadian individuals will also be recognized at the Festival, such as: Ed Mirvish, as TJFF screens Honest Ed Mirvish: The World’s Most Unusual Shopkeeper during the final year of his famous retail store; David Teitel, the Big Carrot’s larger-than-life cashier is the subject of Vanessa Jung’s beautifully-made film, Numbers Guy; the architect of many iconic Toronto buildings (including U of T’s Faculty Club, the Balfour Building, the Herman Building at Dundas Square, and the Beth Jacob Synagogue), is honoured in Building History: The Story of Benjamin Brown; and the life of polarizing doctor, activist and Holocaust survivor Henry Morgentaler is chronicled in The Singing Abortionist.

TJFF is also presenting an encore presentation of the Globe Theatre’s live production of The Merchant of Venice, with Jonathan Pryce playing Shylock; and in the same vein, Shylock’s Ghost follows Man Booker-Prize winner Howard Jacobson and BBC host Alan Yentob as they travel to the Venice Ghetto, exploring the history of Shakespeare’s controversial character.

The full schedule, festival passes and ticket information is now available online.