Austin Jewish Film Festival Brings Cultural Experience to Campus

David Maly

The UT community received a glimpse of Jewish culture Tuesday night, with the screening of the film “Restoration” in the Austin Jewish Film Festival on campus.

“Restoration” (2011) was shown in Mezes Hall Tuesday. The film was the second of four films to be shown on campus as part of the festival, and in attendance were students, Israeli natives, Jewish locals and out-of-towners.

The film provided insight into the realities of life in Israel by going through the fictional experience of one Jewish family following the death of the main character, Yakov Fidelman's (Sasson Gabai) business partner. The film was directed by Yossi Madmoni, an Israeli native and student of the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem.

Family and community were major themes in the film and Israeli native Daniel Vardi said they are major parts of Jewish-Israeli culture. Vardi said there is a strong sense of community that exists in Israel, and there is great importance in immediate family relationships.

“Family is a very key component of Israeli life,” said Vardi. “These relationships seem to be of even more importance than here in the US.”

His wife Nicole Vardi, former UT student, said the film depicts how life in Israel is more structured and harsh than in the United States.

“Military regulations force citizens to serve in the Israeli militia,” she said. “Girls have to serve two years in the military and boys have to serve three except for some special circumstances.”

Galit Pedahzur, program coordinator for the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, said the purpose of the festival is to expose students, the community and the public to films with Jewish and Israeli content in order expose them to a different culture.

“The event was free and open to the public as the goal of the festival is to enrich the lives of the community with a view of a possibly foreign culture,” she said. “We have now brought part of the Austin Jewish Film Festival to campus to make all this more accessible to the UT community.”