Award-winning Israeli playwright Motti Lerner is coming to Toronto for the North American première of his play Deceived as produced by the Teatron Toronto Jewish Theatre Company.
Deceived tells the story of Jonathan Pollard, the American civilian intelligence analyst who was convicted for spying for Israel and has been in prison since 1985. It runs Nov. 9 to 20 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, Studio Theatre, 5040 Yonge St.
“The play explores the question of why the Israelis agreed to use Pollard even though they had a strict rule against operating spies in their home countries so as not to create issues of antisemitism or dual loyalty,” Lerner told The CJN in a brief phone interview last week.
“It deals with the period of his spying and the period when he was caught, and in retrospect, questions why he’s still in jail,” he continued, adding that he would dearly like to see him freed. “I don’t think he did the right thing when he decided to spy, but on the other hand, he shouldn’t die in jail,” he said. “He’s served for 26 years, and the punishment is becoming disproportionate to the crime.”
Ticket prices to Deceived range from $19 (preview) to $48. Call 416-781-5527 or visit www.teatrontheatre.com
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Rendezvous With Madness: Sounds like a crazy theme for a film festival, but the 19th annual Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival runs Nov. 4 to 12 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and other locations. Films include Baderech Lemalla (The Way Up), a recent Israeli-made feature from director Shirly Berkovitz about a woman fighting her addictions and rebuilding her life in the back streets of Tel Aviv; and Latzuf (Floating), from Israeli director Inbal Gibrolter, about a binge eater and an anorexic, both female, who share a hospital room in a clinic where they jointly rebel against their treatment. Sunday, Nov. 6, 1 and 3 p.m. respectively. There are many other worthy screenings. www.rendezvouswithmadness.com
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Films Explore Jewish-Muslim Relations: The theme of the 11th annual International Diaspora Film Festival is “wave of change,” with films reflecting global political, social and cultural changes of the past year. Film director Deepa Mehta screens her acclaimed film Bollywood-Hollywood; and some “Pallywood” films are included as well, direct from the Gaza Women Film Festival.
“Can Muslims and Jews ever be friends?” seems to be the question asked in several of the films. David, a Toronto première, is the story of a young Muslim boy who is mistaken as a Jew by the Jewish community of Brooklyn. Kaddish for a Friend, directed by Leo Khasin, focuses on a teenage Palestinian in Berlin who develops an unlikely friendship with a Holocaust survivor.
Another selection is Playoff, by Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis, about a friendship between an Israeli basketball coach and a Muslim Turkish woman in 1970s Germany. The festival runs Nov. 1 to 6. www.diasporafilmfest.com
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Names in the News: The Koffler Centre enjoyed a wonderful success with its one-day series of readings and events at the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront on Oct. 23. The events were well attended and the final session, a conversation among Russian-Jewish authors Gal Beckerman, David Bezmozgis and Gary Shteyngart, was sold out with some 200 people in attendance.
Koffler at the IFOA also involved such literary talents as Montreal-area MP and human rights activist Irwin Cotler and translators Michal Govrin and Peter Filkins. “It worked out very well, and we’re hoping to continue it next year,” said Koffler publicist Tony Hewer.
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Arts in Brief
• The Canadian Opera Company’s Xstrata Ensemble Studio conducts a tour of Ontario elementary schools this month to perform Isis and the Seven Scorpions by Canadian composer Dean Burry and a version of Hansel and Gretel, the fairy-tale opera by Engelbert Humperdinck. The company visits Bialik Hebrew Day School on Nov. 16.
• Shoshana Shier Lecture Series presents Paris visiting professor Jean Baumgarten giving the last in a series of talks about Mystical Texts in Old Yiddish Literature. On Nov. 7, at 5 p.m., the topic is “Echoes of the False Messiah – Shabbetai Tzvi in Old Yiddish Literature.” University College, Room A101, 15 King’s College Circle. Free, everyone welcome.
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Out of Town: The Free Thinking Society of Ottawa holds its second annual film festival Nov. 11 to 13 to celebrate liberty, freedom and democracy. It sponsors three major events, two panel discussions and some 20 films, including the Canadian première of Unmasked: Judeophobia and the Threat to Civilization. The film is a documentary about the current political assault against Israel – “fundamentally a war against the Jewish People and their right to self-determination.”
Other films include Justice for Sergei; The Last Jews of Libya; The Making of a Martyr; The Biases of the CBC; and Ahead of Time – The Ruth Gruber Story. Events take place at Library and Archives Canada and the Bronson Centre, Ottawa. www.freethinkingfilmfest.ca