The documentary films of Aviva Kempner, a DC voting rights advocate and Forest Hills neighbor, star in this month’s Washington Jewish Film Festival.
“I believe that I have been put on this earth to make films to counter negative stereotypes and give credit to Jewish heroes,” Kempner told the late Carolyn Jacobson in 2012. And she has been telling their stories for 40 years.
The Washington Jewish Film Festival is celebrating with a 40th anniversary retrospective, starting with Kempner’s 1979 film Partisans of Vilna on Friday, November 15th. The festival runs from the 15th through November 23rd at in the Cafritz Hall at the Eldavitch DCJCC (1529 16th Street, NW) and features her major works (below). Kempner will be doing Q&As after most of the screenings.
Partisans of Vilna (1979)
Co-written by director Josh Waletzky (Image Before My Eyes) and producer Aviva Kempner, Partisans of Vilna skillfully blends songs, newsreels and rare archival footage dating from 1939-44 and contemporary interviews with forty partisan survivors (including Abba Kovner, a founder of the partisan movement and one of Israel’s leading poets).
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1999)
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg is a humorous and nostalgic documentary about an extraordinary baseball player who transcended religious prejudice to become an American icon. Detroit Tiger Hammerin’ Hank’s accomplishments during the Golden Age of Baseball rivaled those of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg (2009)
Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg is the humorous and eye-opening story of television pioneer Gertrude Berg. She was the creator, principal writer, and star of The Goldbergs, a popular radio show for 17 years, which became television’s very first character-driven domestic sitcom in 1949. Berg received the first Best Actress Emmy in history, and paved the way for women in the entertainment industry.
Rosenwald is the incredible story of Julius Rosenwald, the son of an immigrant peddler who never finished high school, who rose to become the President of Sears. Influenced by the writings of the educator Booker T. Washington, this Jewish philanthropist joined forces with African American communities during the Jim Crow South to build 5,500 schools, providing 660,000 black children with access to education in the segregated American South.
The Spy Behind Home Plate (2019)
Moe Berg led two lives. Tagged the ‘brainiest man in baseball,’ the son of Jewish immigrants stumped collegiate competitors by calling signals in Latin, and was eventually called up to the majors — playing catcher for the Washington Senators and other clubs during baseball’s Golden Age. Hidden from view was his career as an OSS operative, whose daring deeds helped prevent the Axis powers from developing an atom bomb.
Find the schedule and links for tickets at jxjdc.org or call the box office at 202-777-3210.