A number of the films in the 33-movie festival make Arab-Jewish relations central and suggest that filmmakers, with their nuanced vision and interest in seeing both sides, should be negotiating for peace, not politicians. Following are some of the highlights of the fifth annual festival.
The Ninth Day
The kind of philosophical debates that transcend any one religion are at the center of Volker Schlondorff's (The Tin Drum) drama about a Catholic priest, Father Kremer (played effectively by Ulrich Matthes), who is released from Dachau in the hope that he might "sell" a resistant Luxembourg bishop on the wisdom of cooperating with the Nazis. Schlondorff manages to craft a taut thriller - with a surprising ending - out of the patently uncinematic circumstance of a man wrestling with his conscience and considering the value of surviving the Holocaust if it means abandoning his principles.
Sat., Jan. 29, 7 p.m. Lefont Sandy Springs.
Turn Left at the End of the World
Jewish settlers lured to the badlands of Israel as a human barrier to populate its borders is the backdrop for this frequently engaging, often conventional coming-of-age story. Like a Judy Blume paperback set in the Middle East, the drama concerns the friendship between an Indian teenager (Liraz Charhi), whose family has been promised a better life on the edge of the Negev desert, and the Moroccan girl (Garti Netta) who befriends the newcomer.
Thurs., Jan. 27, 8 p.m. Emory University; Sun., Jan. 30, 8 p.m. Lefont Sandy Springs.
This ultra-light comedy concerns hapless singleton Suzie (Summer Phoenix), a Jewish girl still living with her parents in their north London McMansion, who strays from the path of a proper marriage to a nice Jewish boy to contemplate a hot hookup with a dishy goy. Like a sugary cocktail, the film goes down easy, even if it makes you feel a little dopey in the process.
Thurs., Jan. 27, 7:30 p.m. Lefont Sandy Springs.
A laugh-out-loud Spanish spin on Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, this culture-clash scenario has a beloved daughter (Marian Aguilera) bringing home her new fiance, a Palestinian (Guillermo Toledo), to the shock and horror of her mother, slutty sister, religious zealot brother and blind grandfather. Blending political commentary with the kind of zany comedy elements of Woody Allen and Meet the Parents, this ribald Spanish comedy suggests that humiliation and eccentric families are hardly limited to American shores.
Wed., Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m. Lefont Sandy Springs.
Another Road Home
The relationship between Palestinians and Jews is given an intimate treatment in this engrossing documentary about a Jewish woman, Danae Elon, who goes in search of the Palestinian man, Moussa Obeidallah, who raised her from childhood into adulthood. In this layered, moving film, Elon examines the powerful, loving connection that existed between two people across a seemingly insurmountable political divide.
Sun., Jan. 30, 5:30 p.m. Lefont Sandy Springs.
College students can be incredibly earnest and incredibly irritating when it comes to politics, but there's no denying they make for compelling subjects in this documentary about an ongoing feud between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian students at Montreal's Concordia University. Viewers may leave the film wishing every student were as impassioned and committed to activism as the ones here.
Wed., Jan. 26, 8 p.m. Emory University.