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Saturday, July 26, 2014

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Toronto Jewish Film Festival

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Marc Halberstadt’s “playfully provocative” film CowJews and Indians will be the headliner at this spring’s Toronto Jewish Film Festival, TJFF organizers announced last week.

In a nutshell, CowJews and Indians offers a quirky Swiftian modest proposal as its main thesis. North American Jews are owed reparation money from Germany for the Holocaust, the filmmaker observes, and native Americans are owed reparations from the Europeans who deprived them of their lands. The thesis is that natives should “skip the middleman” and seek reparation payments directly from Germany.

“I think Marc is an idiot for even coming up with the idea,” said former Mohawk chief Cheryl Jacobs about the film. The quote comes directly from the TJFF’s promotional material, which further describes the film as “Borat meets Michael Moore.”

But the filmmakers and producers earnestly describe CowJews and Indians as “a serious, unflinching yet entertaining examination of both Jewish and native American displacement, and the contributing causes.” It was screened at a Beverley Hills film festival last November but positive comments about it on the Internet seem highly elusive.

The festival opens April 11 and closes 10 days later with Hava Nagila, a cinematic “look at the history of the song that represents both kitsch and continuity.” tjff.com, 416-324-9121.

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The Book of Life: The Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto has published The Book of Life – A Decade of Stories, edited by Bonnie Goldstein and Jackie Shulman. The large, attractive volume offers a collection of narratives from some 250 people, deemed “legacy holders,” who tell their life stories or philosophies and share their reflections. As part of its philanthropic endeavours the foundation collects about 10 such stories with photographs each year; a wide cross-section of the city’s Jewish community is represented. 416-631-5703.

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Arts in Brief

• Friends of Yiddish presents the film Wayne and Shuster: Brilliant Pioneers of North American TV Comedy, in Yiddish with English subtitles. Featuring Adam Fuerstenberg and Shlomo Schwartzberg introducing the film. Non-members $5. Beth Tikvah Synagogue, 3080 Bayview Ave. Sunday March 10, 2 p.m. 

• Film critic Adam Nayman discusses the films The Hudsucker Proxy and Intolerable Cruelty as examples of screwball comedy in the latest instalment of his series on “The Coen Brothers in Naymen’s Terms.” $12, students $6. Miles Nadal JCC. Monday, March 11, 7 to 9 p.m. 416-924-6211, ext. 606.

• Active Seniors & Boomers presents art educator Osnat Lipa who discusses French Impressionist artists. $4. Miles Nadal JCC, Thursday, March 14, 1:30 p.m.

• Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde, first published at the turn of the last century, was sensationally banned for its frank sexual content. A new stage production adapted by Jason Sherman opens at Soulpepper on March 26. soulpepper.ca.

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At the Galleries

• Scrap, an exhibition of works by Rochelle Rubinstein, includes the two large-scale, block-printed, painted and carved wood panels Senescence and Sonogram. In Senescence, the framework is a repetition of the Hebrew text of Kaddish, the mourner’s prayer, while Sonogram depicts a fetal sonogram using dozens of prints of fish, babies, stones and flying women; the amniotic fluid resembles a pond, overflowing with vibrant life, while an incongruously placed yellow sock represents the only surviving remnant of a half-brother murdered in Auschwitz. Loop Gallery, 1273 Dundas St. W. Until March 24. The artist participates in a Q&A session, Sunday, March 24, 2 p.m. 416-516-2581.

• The Art Gallery of Ontario is partnering with the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles to present a large exhibition of rare Florentine masterpieces including more than 90 paintings, manuscripts, sculptures and stained glass from the 14th century. Revealing the Early Renaissance – Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art opens March 16 and runs to June 16. www.ago.net.

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