FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #129 – “The Death of Stalin” (dir. Armando Iannucci), “Maktub”, “Keep the Change” (#SJFF2018)

In this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel are back for two outstanding selections from the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, and take a foray into In the Loop director Armando Iannucci‘s uniquely foul-mouthed and hilarious rendition of the demise of Stalin’s Russia. We are joined once again by special guest Erika Spoden (01:13:18).

May contain NSFW language.

The first round of the Seattle Jewish Film Festival closes today, but they will be back for one more weekend next month, April 14-15. For the complete schedule and tickets, head over to SJFF.

FilmWonk rating (Keep the Change): 8/10 (Glenn, Erika), 9/10 (Daniel)
FilmWonk rating (Maktub): 8 out of 10
FilmWonk rating (The Death of Stalin): 8/10 (Glenn), 9/10 (Daniel, Erika)

Show notes:

  • [01:45] Review: Keep the Change
  • [16:16] Spoilers: Keep the Change
  • [27:26] Review: Maktub
  • [42:37] Spoilers: Maktub
  • [51:53] Review: The Death of Stalin
  • These films didn’t have a lot to choose from, so music for this episode is the traditional Russian folk song, “Korobeiniki” and the Soviet National anthem.
  • It does appear that the earliest version of the “whoever saves a life saves the world” verse – which does indeed appear in the Quran (Surah 5:32) – comes from one of the early texts of Judaism (and apparently is a retelling of the Cain and Abel story in-context). Given that Judaism predated both Christianity and Islam, this makes chronological sense, but the origin and evolution of this phrase is expectedly complicated. Check out this article in Mosaic for more details.
  • We spoke vaguely of persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church under the USSR – none of us are particularly familiar with this period, but apparently
    Khrushchev (Stalin’s successor) stepped up this persecution as soon as he took office.

Listen above, or download: The Death of Stalin, Maktub, Keep the Change (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

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FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #108 – “Keep Quiet” (dir. Joseph Martin, Sam Blair) (#SJFF2017)

Poster for "Keep Quiet"

In this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel jump back to their final selection from the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, Keep Quiet, a documentary about Csanád Szegedi, a former far-right, antisemitic political party leader in Hungary who discovers that he has a (still living) Jewish grandmother, which causes a sea change in his political and religious beliefs. Or…does it? If this film had been a great big pat on the back for tolerance and pluralism, we expect it would’ve been pretty tedious. But like The Imposter before it, this film’s definite strength is its ambiguity. Dive with us into an exploration of this fascinating figure and the skepticism that he (deservedly) faces from both his old community of nationalists and neo-Nazis, and his new community of Orthodox Jews. We’re joined once again by friend of the show, local author Erika Spoden (32:11).

May contain NSFW language.

Keep Quiet is available on Amazon Video, and we highly recommend checking it out. As this film deals in ambiguity, there will not be a separate spoilers section in our discussion. Please consider this both a recommendation and spoiler warning for the entire film.

FilmWonk rating: 9/10 (Glenn/Daniel), 10/10 (Erika)

Show notes:

  • Music for this episode is the track “Train of Thought“, from the film’s score by Phillip Sheppard.
  • Special thanks to Erika for joining us this week – her memoir is titled Strawberries for 50 People, and it is available on Amazon Kindle.
  • Thanks as well to the Seattle Jewish Film Festival and Smarthouse Creative for helping us cover so much of the festival (for the first time) this year – we’ll definitely be back!

Listen above, or download: Keep Quiet (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #101 – “Supergirl” (dir. Jessie Auritt), “Harmonia” (dir. Ori Sivan) (#SJFF2017)

Poster for "Harmonia"

In this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel preview a pair of selections from the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, which runs from March 25 – April 2. The first is a documentary about a strong girl that held much more of our interest than expected, and the second is an Israeli film which subtly, then aggressively, borrows from Darren Aronofsky and the Book of Genesis in equal measure (52:20).

May contain NSFW language.

Still from "Supergirl" documentary

Harmonia is playing as the Opening Night Film on Saturday, 3/25 @ 8:30PM at AMC Pacific Place 11. Actor Alon Aboutboul (Abraham) will be in attendance.

Supergirl is playing in the Teen Screen segment on Tuesday, 3/28 @ 6:30PM at the SIFF Cinema Uptown. Director Jessie Auritt and editor Erik Dugger will be attendance.

Tickets and passes are available at SeattleJewishFilmFestival.org.

FilmWonk rating (Supergirl): 7 out of 10
FilmWonk rating (Harmonia): 6 out of 10

Show notes:

Listen above, or download: Supergirl, Harmonia (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)