The North by Northeast (NXNE) Film Festival is scheduled to screen more than 40 movies in June, including several with some connection to the Canadian Jewish community.
One of the highlights of the festival is the Canadian première of My Father and the Man in Black, a feature-length documentary focusing on Johnny Cash’s talented but troubled manager, the late impresario Saul Holiff, formerly of London, Ont.
Written and directed by Saul’s son, Jonathan Holiff, the film includes previously unreleased footage that weaves a fascinating yet tragic story: Holiff, estranged from his father for 20 years, discovered a storage locker just six months after Saul’s death in 2005. Inside were hundreds of handwritten letters between Saul, Cash and Cash’s wife, June Carter, taped conversations with Cash and an audio diary reaching back to 1965.
NXNE is also screening I Met the Walrus, an animated film directed by Josh Raskin and produced by Jerry Levitan of Toronto. Nominated for an Oscar in 2008, I Met the Walrus features a 14-year-old Levitan and his encounter with music legend John Lennon. It is being screened alongside its companion piece, My Hometown, an animated short produced and directed by Levitan and Terry Tompkins, and narrated by Yoko Ono.
The festival is also running KMS: Jewish Negroes, director Moran Ifergan’s film about a year in the lives of three Ethiopian Jewish friends in the band KMS in Israel. NXNE screenings take place at the NFB Mediatheque, Royal Cinema and Toronto Underground Cinema, June 11 to 17. www.nxne.com
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Names in the News: Toronto author Jack Lipinski was recently honoured when his book, Imposing Their Will: An Organizational History of Jewish Toronto, 1933-1948, won the Joseph Brant Award of the Ontario Historical Society for the best book on multicultural history in Ontario published in the past three years.
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Names in the News II: A large number of prominent Jewish Canadians are alumni of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, which recently marked its 125th anniversary. The list includes Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, Paul Shaffer and Ben Steinberg. Other famous alumni include Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, Diana Krall, Norman Jewison and Kim Cattrall. The conservatory’s “Music in Exiles” series, at its Glenn Gould School, continues to focus on composers exiled from Germany before and during World War II.
Playwriting Competition: The Cultural Arts Department of the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Cemtre has called for submissions to the 2012 Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition, with a deadline of July 3. The winning play receives a professionally acted and directed public workshop in the Between States Play Reading series. Last year’s winning play, Haunted by Daniel Karasik, received a reading in April. www.mnjcc.org
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Hebrew on Stage: Mifgash Theatre, the only Hebrew-speaking theatre in Toronto presents He Walked Through the Fields by Moshe Shamir. This Israeli drama paints a larger-than-life portrait of the new generation of native Israelis, the heroic sabras. In Hebrew with English surtitles. $25. Al Green Theatre, May 21 to 24, 8 p.m. http://bit.ly/J8isyd
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Arts in Brief
• Pianist Fern Lindzon performs with George Koller (bass) and Michael Davidson (vibraphone) at the Rex Jazz and Blues Bar, 194 Queen St. W. Sunday, May 13, 9:30 p.m. therex.ca
• The Koffler Centre of the Arts and Luminato present Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company in the North American première of the large, full-length work SADEH21 (literally translated as “Field 21”). MacMillan Theatre, 80 Queen’s Park, Thursday, June 14. kofflerarts.org
• Franz Werfel: A Life in Prague, Vienna and Hollywood, by Peter Stephan Jungk, was recently released as a Kindle e-book by the Plunkett Lake Press, headed by American writer Helen Epstein (Children of the Holocaust). The press has also published many other titles with Jewish subjects and themes. www.plunkettlakepress.com
• Spark: Igniting with Photography is a collection of photographic portraits by artists from Shoot With This, a photography mentorship initiative for at-risk youth. A Scotiabank Contact Festival exhibit in partnership with the Al Green Gallery, the exhibit continues at the Miles Nadal JCC Gallery until May 29.
Out of Town
• The popular Israeli rock band Useless ID begins a tour of Quebec and Ontario this month. They are in Quebec City on May 26, Ottawa on May 28, Montreal on May 29, Welland on May 30, Hamilton on May 31, and London on June 1 before playing at the Bovine Club, Toronto on June 2. Search Useless ID on Facebook for details.
• The Rady JCC and the I.L. Peretz Folk School Endowment Fund of Winnipeg have announced the return of that city’s Yiddish festival, the fourth Mameloshen: Festival of Yiddish Entertainment and Culture. Performances take place at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on May 22 and 31, and June 13 and 14. www.radyjcc.com