South Helps Host Mobile Jewish Film Festival

Posted on January 14, 2020
Joy Washington

Each year the University of South Alabama joins the Mobile Jewish Film Festival supporting documentary, narrative and short films from around the world that explore the Jewish experience. This year’s films will run from Jan. 16-Feb. 2, and several will be shown on the USA campus.

“This is a chance for our community, which includes our students, faculty and staff, to come together to watch some amazing, up-and-coming films,” said Dr. David Meola, the Bert and Fanny Meisler Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies at USA. “A lot of these films have won awards at smaller film festivals, and they are relatively new films. This gives everyone an opportunity to see films that they would not ordinarily see on the big screen.”

This year, in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the festival will feature the film “Marshall” at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 20, at USA’s Laidlaw Performing Arts Center. Admission is free for students with USA identification. Meola and Dr. Kern Jackson, director of African-American Studies and assistant professor of English, will lead a discussion following the film.

“In ‘Marshall,’ one of the two protagonists is Jewish. This film is about the early, important trials in the life of the first black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall,” Meola said. “I have watched the film, and it’s such a vivid story about life in the early 40s. When it comes to the civil rights struggle, we sometimes geographically think of the South. This story takes place in Greenwich, Connecticut, which is a very affluent suburb of New York City.”

Meola, who is also director of USA’s Jewish and Holocaust Studies program, said the film pushes and challenges the viewers to see that racism is an American problem. And, he’s hopeful those in attendance will come with an open mind, ready to listen and share in the discussion following the film.

“This discussion will be a stepping stone to open a dialogue about what we want regarding justice, equity, safety and security,” Meola said.

Jackson is looking forward to sharing in the discussion about Jewish and black relations.

“We will discuss what kind of alliances African American people have with Jewish people,” Jackson said. “There’s an incredible diversity that makes up both communities. During the conversation, I am hopeful there will be discussions about collaborative pursuits regarding social justice and also what kinds of alliances Jewish and black people had during the contemporary civil rights movement, and where has it gone?”

The USA College of Arts & Sciences is serving as a sponsor, and all USA students with identification can sign in and see the films on campus for free. The admission to attend for faculty, staff and the general public is $9, and $7 for seniors.

The additional films hosted on USA’s campus are:

  • 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 21: "Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz," tells the fascinating story of Ben Ferencz, the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor and lifelong advocate of “law not war.” His fight for justice for victims of atrocity crimes continues today.
  • 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22: “Shoelaces” tells the story of a complicated relationship between an aging father and his special-needs son, whom he abandoned while he was still a young boy.

Visit the website of the Mobile Area Jewish Federation to RSVP or see the full lineup of the 2020 Mobile Jewish Film Festival.

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