Film festivals in Austin feature Jewish filmmakers, movies

Jackson Milch, General Life & Arts Reporter

The 20th annual Austin Jewish Film Festival took place last month – a week after the Austin Film Festival. After attending both events, The Daily Texan compiled a list of movies from Jewish filmmakers to check out when they fully release to U.S. audiences.


“Checkout” directed by Jonathan Dekel

Dekel’s “Checkout” follows a washed-up Mossad agent, who believes he’s encountered the terrorist he’s been searching for throughout his whole career at a Turkish hotel. Although the film did not show at AJFF, it made its debut at Austin Film Festival the week prior. While the film is an American production, the film’s director, cast and crew are of Israeli heritage, and the film’s Jewish characters were portrayed by Jewish actors. “Checkout” stars Josh Pais as Dov, the film’s protagonist. Pais delivers an incredible multi-lingual performance as a vulnerable man with the world’s most high-stakes profession. “Checkout” also contains a significant amount of Jewish humor, but can be enjoyed by all audiences.


“Bad Nazi, Good Nazi” directed by Chenoch Ze’evi

The documentary titled “Bad Nazi, Good Nazi” made for one of the most festival’s most engaging films, chronicling Wilm Hosenfeld, the Nazi officer who saved the Polish composer Wladyslaw Szpilman in WWII. This event was depicted in Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist,” giving Hosenfeld the image of a hero in front of millions. “Good Nazi, Bad Nazi” takes a modern perspective, detailing how Hosenfeld’s legacy changed over time, and how it has been influenced by “The Pianist.” The documentary debates the moral implications of praising Hosenfeld as a hero, and the complexities of people who devoted their lives to a cause that hurt so many people. Additionally, “Bad Nazi, Good Nazi,” isn’t just about Hosenfeld, as it follows his descendants and their opinions of their ancestor, providing another layer of complexity to the film.


“Between Walls” directed by Rotem Zisman Cohen and Morris Cohen

“Between Walls” is a documentary following “Platoon C,” a border patrol unit operating at the Western Wall. The film explores the members of the platoon and their different beliefs in the world’s holiest city. “Between Walls,” made a great fit in the festival’s catalog, as it portrays life in Jerusalem, where religion takes the forefront of the city’s culture. Unlike “Bad Nazi, Good Nazi,” Between Walls did not contain a narrator, and contained only footage taken during the film’s production, in which the crew follows the Platoon. This led to a gritty and up-close portrayal of the platoon, which allowed the film to depict an extremely personal image of the day to day operations at the wall.