Jewish film festivals are a crucial component when dealing with ‘Jewish film’. They have contributed significantly to the assertion of the term from within film culture and are places for discursivating the subject matter and negotiating Jewish perspectives and lived experiences. The number of Jewish film festivals worldwide has increased to approximately 180 since the inaugural Jewish Film Festival in San Francisco in 1981. This development is linked to developments in Jewish communities in those countries, but also to the dawning of a flourishing and diverse film festival scene. How can the subject matter ‘Jewish Film’ be described and understood by analyzing the programming work done by Jewish film festivals?
Jewish film festivals are a crucial component for approaching the term ‘Jewish film’. They have contributed significantly to its assertion from within film culture and are places for discursivating the subject matter and negotiating Jewish perspectives and lived experiences. They have also created a festival circuit through which they can influence the film industry (production and distribution) as well as film history, since they contribute to the formation of a (Jewish) film canon. Since the inaugural Jewish Film Festival took place in San Francisco in 1981, the number of film festivals has grown to almost 180 today. When film series and film clubs are counted, this number increases to almost 2000. Nevertheless, Jewish film festivals are still a desideratum in academic debates, both in film festival research and Jewish studies. Although there are anniversary editions and individual academic papers on individual film festivals, there is an overall lack of research on the genesis and characterisation of these festivals. This is where the dissertation project comes in, attempting to develop a typology of Jewish film festivals and derive an understanding of ‘Jewish film’ from the programming work through broad data collection on the one hand and three case studies on the other.
At the core of this work is an exploration of the subject matter of ‘Jewish film’ by means of the programming work and the self-image of Jewish film festivals. This involves an initial analysis of what Jewish film festivals understand as their subject matter and how they depict and convey it, which discursive spaces develop in the process and to which extent Jewish themes are negotiated in them. Lastly, to which extent do Jewish film festivals play a role in writing a Jewish film history which is also told in retrospectives?
The historical and cultural differences underlying the respective understanding of ‘Jewish film’ can be considered in this process. The subject of ‘Jewish film’ is analysed and described from a film practice perspective through the programming work of Jewish film festivals, and the festivals are understood as discursive sites essential to the formation of (Jewish) film history and culture.
Die Forschungsgruppe wird vom PostDocNetwork Brandenburg gefördert.