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Same and Not the Same: The Jewish Film Festival

HUNTING ELEPHANTS Finally, a movie about aging Zionist bank robbers!

HUNTING ELEPHANTS Finally, a movie about aging Zionist bank robbers!

THERE ARE infinite ways in which to reshuffle categories of film, and the world puts out so much that the sheer quantity begs for organization. And so we have strange, simultaneous exercises in homogeny and disparity like the NW Film Center's annual Jewish Film Festival. Come for the annual compendium of culturally specific accomplishments; stay for a series that covers a massive amount of ground in theme, geography, and style.

This year's festival includes a couple of films that may have been lost in the inundation of this year's Portland International Film Festival. It's basically a prerequisite that the Holocaust play a role in any lineup gathered under Jewish designation, but Poland's Aftermath (screens Mon June 16) addresses the tragedy as a village-set thriller that underscores the fierceness with which secrets from that time are manifested to this day.

Elsewhere, the festival has other concerns, like the precariousness of displaced Israeli families living abroad in Transit (Wed June 18), and the peculiar zaniness of aging Zionist bank robbers in Hunting Elephants (Sat June 21). On the documentary front, there's Mike Myers' affectionate profile of talent manager Shep Gordon (Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, Wed June 18), the story of New York's venerable appetizing store Russ & Daughters (The Sturgeon Queens, Mon June 23), and Before the Revolution (Mon June 23), about the 1979 revolution in Iran from the fascinating perspective of young, prosperous Israeli families who were ultimately driven out.

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