Everyone’s a Critic – and for Docs In Progress, That’s Okay

Written by Kol HaBirah Staff on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

We've all heard the expression "everyone's a critic," but few view it in a positive light. Docs In Progress, a nonprofit based in Silver Spring, Maryland, is an exception to that rule.

Docs In Progress, lead by Executive Director Erica Ginsberg, creates and fosters a supportive community for documentary filmmakers in the Greater Washington DC area. Their flagship programming, Work-in-Progress Screenings help local and visiting filmmakers who are seeking feedback on a story structure and character development. These screenings are open to the general public and include a facilitated session where the audience provides constructive feedback on the story structure and character development of these not-quite-finished documentaries.

"This can be essential to help filmmakers move forward with creative blocks or to get a reality check on a film ahead of distribution," says Ginsberg. "Since 2004, we've screened more than 150 films and the majority have been completed, some going on to film festival and distribution success," she continues.

 Still from Bonnie Rich's "Searching for My Jewish Soul." (Image courtesy of Docs in Progress)

This Sunday, August 6, Docs In Progress is trying something new and pretty Jewish. Through a recent grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, they are expanding on this idea of Works-in-Progress Screenings, and are presenting the event in a series called Docs in the City. Each event will present two documentary filmmakers and their films that work within the same theme, one a work-in-progress and the other an iconic, established film. A moderated, audience-feedback session will follow the work-in-progress to offer honest and constructive critique for the emerging filmmakers. A Q&A session with the established filmmaker will also take place at each event. 

For the kick-off event, presented in partnership with Washington Jewish Film Festival, the theme will be "Personal Documentary" and will feature emerging filmmaker, Bonnie Rich’s Searching for My Jewish Soul (work-in-progress) and award-winning filmmaker Doug Block’s iconic film 51 Birch Street. Docs In Progress is billing both films under the shared theme of Personal Documentaries, but, they share another theme as well - an exploration of Jewish culture and identity. 

"There is no question that both films deal in different ways with aspects of contemporary Jewish-American life. That is why we approached the Washington Jewish Film Festival to co-host the screening. They are an incredible partner," says Ginsberg.

Local filmmaker and Jewish mom, Bonnie Rich, takes a lighthearted approach to a serious matter in her work-in-progress,Searching for My Jewish Soul. After her two adult daughters confess to her that they have their doubts about raising their hypothetical children Jewish, she decides to explore contemporary relevance in Judaism.

Watch the trailer for Searching for My Jewish Soul:  https://youtu.be/Oyb_bDP8XPA

New York based, award-winning filmmaker, Doug Block explores the question “Do we ever really know our parents?” in his acclaimed film, 51 Birch Street. Spanning 60 years and three generations of a Jewish family, the film weaves together hundreds of faded snapshots, 8mm home movies, and two decades of footage in a tale of what can happen when our most fundamental assumptions about family are suddenly called into question.

Watch the trailer for 51 Birch Street: https://youtu.be/N-_pA7UiMdI

See both films and participate in the talk-back and Q&A this Sunday at the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center. Tickets and further information are here.

Experience ‘A Sense of Renewal’ at the Bender JCC’s Goldman Art Gallery

Written by Deborah Scheinberg on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

“A Sense of Renewal: A Group Show,” on display through August 13 in the Goldman Art Gallery at the Bender Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Rockville, Maryland, displays textural, organic work leading the beholder down memory lane, displaying forces of nature, and evoking a sense of caution and drama. Featuring work by Miguel Perez Lem, Felisa Federman, Nancy Nesvet, Pauline Jakobsberg, and Terry Svat, the paintings present, as described in the artists’ statement, “images that long for the past, examine our present world, and ponder the future.”

Singing for His Life

Written by Larry Shor on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

The life of Cantor Samuel Taube reads like an adventure novel. It spans nine decades, three continents, and a dozen countries. It spans the highest heights and the lowest depths of Jewish history in the 20th century. Above all, it is a story of great talent and deep faith that sustained him through it all.

My Friend, the Colonel

Written by Larry Shor on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

Like many millions of his generation, my dad, Nathan Shor, was drafted into the Army just shy of his 18th birthday. After serving in the National Guard for two years, he received the fateful letter from the president that began, “Greetings.”

NPR Headquarters

Written by Dinah Rokach on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

Have you ever turned on your radio and wondered about the individuals behind the voices and the work behind the words? At the headquarters of National Public Radio (NPR) in Washington, D.C., you can learn about the fast-paced news business and gain an appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the many professionals it takes to bring NPR radio programs to life.

Pentagon Memorial

Written by Dinah Rokach on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

(SOURCE: Washington.org)In Judaism, the period of The Three Weeks, culminating with the fast of Tisha B’Av, is a time of reflection and mourning. We contemplate the tragedies that befell our people not only at the time of the destruction of the Temple in but also during the subsequent millennia of exile.

Review: ‘Broken Glass’

Written by Miriam Cleeman on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

The chaos, uncertainty, and confusion of the last few months of 1938 are felt before the actors even take the stage in the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center (DCJCC)’s Theater J production of Arthur Miller’s last work, “Broken Glass.” Screens of broken glass, jagged and unconnected windows, cover the back wall of a sparsely set stage that gives little away as to what the audience can expect.

Movie Review: ‘Past Life’

Written by Jodi Berman Kustanovich on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

Washington Jewish Film Festival

With Past Life, Israeli Director Avi Nesher brings the story of a family in Israel — the father, Baruch, a Holocaust survivor with a dark past; the mother, Lusia, a proud and elegant but unsettled woman; the daughter Sephi, a classically trained vocalist and aspiring composer; and her sister Nana, a turbulent writer and hippie struggling with the demons of her childhood.