Milwaukee Jewish Film festival starts Oct. 15 | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Milwaukee Jewish Film festival starts Oct. 15

The 26th annual Milwaukee Jewish Film Festival is to run Oct. 15-19 at Marcus North Shore Cinema in Mequon, and continue through Sunday, October 29 for stream-at-home viewing.  

The Milwaukee Jewish Film Festival is a program of the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, with generous support from Marcus Theatre Department of the Marcus Corporation. 

Carrying on the rich tradition of celebrating the finest in Jewish film and filmmaking, the 2023 Milwaukee Jewish Film Festival features a variety of intriguing and engaging movies from around the world, according to a news release.  

This year’s festival includes films from France, Germany, Israel, Italy and United States. Five movies feature themes speaking to Jewish traditions, culture and history, as well as being relevant to modern-day experiences. From escaping Nazi Germany, to romance in the Calabrian countryside, to matchmaking in Israel, to the life of Gene Wilder, the 2023 Milwaukee Jewish Film Festival celebrates the Jewish experience. Film discussions with guests will be in-person at the theater and available on following the screening of each movie. 

The films are: 

The Path 

Sunday, Oct. 15 • 7 pm         

2022 | Germany | German with English subtitles | 100 minutes | Director: Tobias Wiemann 

Set in 1940, the film centers on German journalist Ludwig, who is on the run from the Nazis, and his 12-year-old son Rolf. They are trying to travel to New York where Rolf’s mother is waiting for them but are stranded in Marseille. The only route to freedom is a dangerous path over the Pyrenees to Spain. Nuria, a girl only slightly older than Rolf, offers to guide them along the path. When Ludwig is caught en route, Rolf and Nuria are left on their own. Rolf’s dog is the children’s only companion on the journey that teaches them to rely on one another and stick up for each other. 

Shown in cooperation with the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC), a progam of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. 

Where Life Begins 

Monday, Oct. 16 • 7 pm        

2022 | Italy & France | French & Italian with English subtitles | 101 minutes | Director: Stéphane Freiss 

Set in the bucolic Calabrian countryside, this romantic drama about family, faith and freedom is the directorial debut of veteran French actor Stéphane Freiss. An ultra-Orthodox family has arrived in the south of Italy from their home in eastern France to assist with the annual harvest of the citron fruits used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Among them is Esther, a rabbi’s daughter who is increasingly dissatisfied with her life, chafing at the bonds of her religious upbringing and resentful of her imminent arranged marriage. When she meets and feels a growing attraction for the farm’s owner, Elio, she dares to imagine a different, potentially happier path for herself. “Where Life Begins” is an intelligent and honest depiction of the pain of questioning one’s faith and community that offers no easy answers. 

Shown in cooperation with the Israel Center of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. 

Farewell Mr. Haffmann 

Tuesday, Oct. 17 • 7 pm                   

2022 | France | French with English subtitles | 101 minutes | Director: Fred Cavay 

After the Nazi occupation of Paris, jeweler Joseph Haffmann, fearing the worst, arranges for his family to flee the city and offers his employee François Mercier a chance to take over his store. But his own attempts to escape are thwarted, and Haffmann is forced to seek his assistant’s protection. The agreement turns into a Faustian bargain. 

Shown in cooperation with the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC). 

Remembering Gene Wilder 

Wednesday, Oct. 18 • 7 pm    

2023 | United States | English | 130 minutes | Director: Ron Frank 

He was born Jerome Silberman to an assimilated Milwaukee Jewish family, and his childhood buddies called him Jerry — but the world would come to know Gene Wilder (1933 – 2016) as an endearing comic genius through an extraordinary string of film roles: from the timid Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” to the strange and magical title role in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” from his inspired on-screen partnership with Richard Pryor in movies like “Silver Streak” to the comedy classics of “Blazing Saddles,” “The Frisco Kid” and “Young Frankenstein.” Now, Ron Frank’s biographical documentary is told in part through Wilder’s own voice (he recorded the audiobook of his memoir, which serves as narration). This film is available for in-person screening only. 

Shown in cooperation with Tapestry: Arts & Ideas from the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish JCC.



Thursday, Oct. 19 • 7 pm 

2022 | Israel | Hebrew with English subtitles | 98 minutes | Director: Erez Tadmor 

In search of a wife, Moti Bernstein will meet the best girls in the Jewish Orthodox world but will fall for the one girl he can never have. The only one he wants. Against everything he knows and every value he holds dear, Moti will be forced to go out on a limb in the most unexpected and unusual of ways. 

Who will win? The system or the inner voice? 

Shown in cooperation with the Israel Center of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. 

How to purchase tickets 

Tickets for in-person screenings are $12 per person; stream-at-home viewing is $12 per household; a package is also available which provides access to all showings and platforms. To purchase tickets, visit or visit the JCC table that will be located inside the Marcus North Shore Cinema beginning one hour prior to each movie. Tickets are not available for purchase directly through the theater. 

Sponsors of the Milwaukee Jewish Film Festival include the Marcus Theatre Department of the Marcus Corporation; the Shel and Danni Gendelman Endowment Fund; and the Sylvia and Robert Seinfeld Jewish Film Festival Endowment Fund. 

 * * *

For our discussion with the three women at the heart of the Milwaukee Jewish Film festival, click here.