A Matter of Size

Toronto Jewish Film Festival 2010

The Toronto Jewish Film Festival turns 18 this year, with a whopping 93 films in all. In full swing from April 17th to the 25th, this year's festival features gangsters, sumo wrestlers, history lessons, and more. In other words, it's a week-long celebration of the diversity of Jewish themes and identity.

My pick of the pack? It's a toss-up between a recent restoration of Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today (1948) and a low key French comedy called Simon Konianski.

A gripping courtroom drama, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today (April 18) presents the case made to prosecute Nazi war criminals, using footage from the trial and war. Turns out an English-language version of this 1948 doc was never completed because the U.S. government had some concern about its graphic content. Oh, and Liev Schreiber narrates.

If I had to see only one film at the Toronto Jewish Film Fest this year, it would probably be Simon Konianski (April 24, 25). It's from Belgium and centers on a 35 year old man, unemployed and recently split from his girlfriend, forced to move in his father. When his father passes away, Simon heads to a remote Ukrainian village to fulfill the man's mysterious dying wish. The film tackles some serious issues with a comic cast of characters - the grumpy dad, neurotic relatives, adorably geeky son, non-Jewish dancer ex, and, of course, an angsty Simon.

And Eyes Wide Open (April 19, 20) is sure to raise some eyebrows. A steamy love affair develops between a married father and a younger drifter in an Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem.

I'm less keen on the festival opener, A Matter of Size (April 17, 18) which was surprisingly unfunny for a film about fitness club dropouts turned sumo wrestlers. Ditto for Honor (April 18, 19) about warring crime families - I lost the plot line a few times.

Like a fest within the Fest, a sidebar series titled People Of The Comic Book: The Creators Of Superheroes, Graphic Novels & Toons highlights the work Jewish artists in the world of comics. In the mix are American Splendor, Fritz the Cat and local docmaker Ron Mann's Comic Book Confidential.

The Toronto Jewish Film Festival is on April 17-25th, 2010 at the Bloor Cinema, Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Centre Cinemas, Al Green Theatre, and SilverCity Richmond Hill. Tickets $12/$20.

Still from A Matter of Size.


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