Festival offers diversity in film

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Encouraging tolerance and cultural diversity is the ongoing goal for the JFilm: Pittsburgh Jewish Film Forum.

Held from March 24 to April 10, the festival, now in its 18th year, will feature more than 20 films over an 18-day period.

Films are shown at several venues throughout Pittsburgh and Westmoreland County including Southside Works, Carnegie Mellon University, and Point Park University. The Pittsburgh Jewish Film Forum is a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

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“WHO DO YOU LOVE” stars David Oyelowo as Muddy Waters, and Alessandro Nivola as Leonard Chess.

“We’re always looking for films of high quality that are diverse in theme,” explained Kathryn Spitz Cohan, executive director of the Pittsburgh Jewish Film Forum. “We want films that run the gamut and we look for films that have a large range of topics.”

One of the films being shown during this year’s festival is “Who Do You Love,” a film about the famous Chess Brothers.

Leonard and Phil Chess introduced mainstream America to blues legend Muddy Waters and Etta James, R&B/blues great Bo Diddley and rock pioneer Chuck Berry. The biopic tells the story of the Polish-Jewish immigrant Chess boys who founded Chess Records in the 1950s. The 90-minute film was directed by Jerry Zaks. “Who Do You Love?” won the Best Narrative award from the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

“Although the film is fictionalized, the acting, singing and soundtrack to the film are wonderful. The relationship between the two brothers, their wives and the musicians is what got me,” Spitz Cohan said.

“Who Do You Love” will be shown at the Southside Works Theater on March 31 at 7 p.m.

Another film is “Voices Unbound,” a documentary about the real kids that the movie, “The Freedom Writers,” which starred Hillary Swank, was based on. “Voices Unbound” will be shown at 4 p.m. on April 10 at Southside Works. The 91-minute film is directed by Daniel Anker.

“The beauty about this festival is that we are showing films that you wouldn’t normally see in the regular movie theater. They are entertaining, thought provoking and they create dialogue,” Spitz Cohan said.

Potential films are reviewed by 50 dedicated volunteers from September to December.

General admission for one film is $9; seniors 65 and older $8; college students and students ages 18 and under are $5 .

(For more information visit http://www.jfilmspgh.org or call 412-992-5203.)

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