Chicago Jewish Film Festival holds University screenings

For the first time, Jewish Community Center Chicago’s acclaimed film festival has expanded to Champaign-Urbana with screenings in February and March, with the final showing scheduled for March 29 at 5 p.m. at Spurlock Museum.

This event is part of the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Film Festival, which itself is an expansion of the JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival. The seventh annual Chicago event takes place Feb. 28 to March 15 around Chicagoland, according to their website.

The Program in Jewish Culture and Society event is organized by JCC Chicago and the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation.

The goal of the festival is to achieve “(k)nowledge and understanding of people who may have different practices or lifestyles than we do, but at heart, are very like us,” according to Linda Bauer, Executive Director of the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation.

The Federation serves as an opportunity for others to learn about the Jewish culture as well as for organizing events in a non-religious environment and to provide scholarships and grants. 

The films are at no cost for viewers, and they include both feature films and documentaries. Each film will have a question and answer session afterward to allow the viewers to ask questions and gain more insight into the film. 

The film on March 1, “Children of the Inquisition,” is one of two documentaries in the festival. It chronicles Jewish families who were forced to convert to Catholicism or fled during the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, checking in on their modern descendants.   

“It is a documentary that unearths 500 years of hidden history,” said festival director Yael Gertner in an email.

The last film of the festival, Hebrew romantic comedy “Love in Suspenders,” will play on March 29.

Director of “Children of the Inquisition,” Joseph Lovett will Skype with the audience on Sunday, while community member Marganit Weinberger-Rotman will discuss “Love in Suspenders,” described on the JCC website as “a charming romantic comedy for the young and young at heart” about two senior citizens who are given another chance at love.

Anyone interested is welcome into the screening, and no advanced reservation is required.

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