Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival returns

  • Pierre Niney and Charlotte Gainsbourg in a scene from “Promise at Dawn,” which plays at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst March 30. Photo by Julien Panié/courtesy PVJFF

  • “A Bag of Marbles” (Une Sac de Billes) tells the story of two young Jewish brothers who try to escape the Nazis in occupied France during WWII. Image courtesy PVJFF

Staff Writer
Published: 3/20/2019 4:31:36 PM

Dramas, documentaries, comedies, cultural studies, stories from history and the Holocaust: They’re all on tap over the next few weeks during the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival.

Beginning next Thursday, March 28, and running through April 8, PVJFF this year is offering 21 films in 16 different venues in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

Nine films will be shown in Hampshire County venues. In Amherst, films will screen at Amherst Cinema, Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the Yiddish Book Center; in Northampton, at the Northampton Center for the Arts; and in South Hadley, at Mount Holyoke College.

Festival organizers say they’ve long been interested in in featuring stories from different countries, and this year is no exception. Among the 15 countries represented in the 2019 festival are Ethiopia, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

In addition, seven of the films are directed by women.

“The stories and characters in this year’s lineup are as diverse as ever,” Festival Director Deb Krivoy said in a statement. “We look forward to providing a truly global perspective on the Jewish experience.”

The festival opens next Thursday at Rave Cinemas in West Springfield with “A Bag of Marbles” (Un Sac de Billes), a 2018 French film, based on a 1973 memoir/autobiographical novel by Joseph Jotto, about two young Jewish brothers who flee from the Nazis in occupied France for the country’s free southern zone.

“The great value of Christian Duguay’s ‘A Bag of Marbles’ is the degree to which it makes such a barbaric and bewildering chapter in human history comprehensible for young audiences,” says the film review site.

What Krivoy calls a centerpiece of this year’s PVJFF, “Promise at Dawn” (La Promesse de l’Aube), screens Saturday, March 30 at the Yiddish Book Center. This 2018 drama chronicles the story of writer and WWII Free French aviator Romain Gary and his close relationship with his single mother, beginning with his impoverished childhood in Poland.

For more information on the film festival, including film summaries, dates and times, as well as venue addresses, visit







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