By Jose Castillo, news staff
This year’s Boston Jewish Film Festival (BJFF) will feature a film starring Northeastern University School of Law alumna Mary Bonauto, a key figure in LGBTQA+ activism. Directed by Eddie Rosenstein, the 2016 documentary, “The Freedom to Marry” seeks to display the trials and tribulations faced by same-sex marriage activists, from the early days of the movement through today.
Bonauto, who has been referred to as the LGBTQA+ community’s “Thurgood Marshall” by former U.S. Rep Barney Frank (D-MA) is featured in the documentary alongside activist and lawyer Evan Wolfson, referred to as an architect of the same-sex marriage movement. Bonauto was one of three lawyers who argued before the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case that determined state bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
“Our law school is proud to support this worthwhile cinematic effort to tell the story of how our graduate and crusader for justice, Mary Bonauto, led the fight to secure the right to marry for all Americans,” said School of Law Dean Jeremy Pau. “Never in our nation’s history have we more greatly needed examples of the courage, insight, and devotion to cause that Attorney Bonauto displayed in bringing our state and our nation to this marvelous achievement.”
The film will be one of nearly 40 films that will be shown at this year’s installment of BJFF, an event intended to piece together the unique perspective that those of Jewish heritage hold dear.
“Our goal is to celebrate the Jewish experience in all of its diverse forms, from communities and issues that are familiar to us, to Jewish life from around the world, including in places like Argentina, Greece and the Netherlands,” said BJFF Executive Director Jaymie Saks.
The Jewish Studies Department (JSD) will also be sponsoring a screening of a documentary discussing German reaction to the Holocaust, at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), titled “Germans & Jews.” The film will be followed by a discussion led by Natalie Bormann, associate teaching professor of political science and member of the Jewish Studies Advisory Board.
“The BJFF screens a very wide variety of fascinating films,” said Jennifer Sartori, JSD acting director. “You can learn a great deal and watch a great film at the same time.”
Founded in 1989, the Boston Jewish Film Festival showed 10 films in its inaugural year. The lineup was selected after previewing over 300 films, and those chosen will be shown in 11 Boston area cinemas and venues, including the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brattle Theatre and the MFA.
“Some films we learn about screen at other festivals – Sundance, Tribeca, Toronto, Cannes, et cetera,” Saks said. “We look for films that are well-made, original and powerful.”
Notable films to look for this year include “Keep Quiet,” a documentary about a Holocaust denier who converts to the Jewish faith after learning that his grandmother had survived Auschwitz, and “The Last Laugh,” a thorough exploration of humor and tragedy including Mel Brooks and Sarah Silverman.
As well as feature films, the festival will host a short film competition, screenings of popular Israeli TV shows and screen several family friendly movies. Festival goers will also be treated to a couple of live events with visiting filmmakers from around the world.
“In addition to our usual lineup of premiere films, we are including a podcast taping and a presentation of music interspersed with old cartoons, including Betty Boop and Popeye,” Saks said.
The Boston Jewish Film Festival will run through Nov. 21. “The Freedom to Marry” will be screened at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on Nov. 11; “Germans & Jews” will be screened at the MFA on Nov. 13.
Photo Courtesy Boston Jewish Film Festival