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Helen Zukerman Shares TJFF’s Five Must-see Movies

The TJFF executive director shares her festival picks in this exclusive interview.
By: Ilan Mester
Published: May 11th, 2011 in Culture » Film » Interviews
Helen ZukermanPic: TJFF

With more than 100 films from around the world at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival -- which runs until May 15 -- it can be tricky to come up with a list of movies to see. TJFF executive director Helen Zukerman shares her five must-see movies in this exclusive interview.

You’ve been running TJFF for so many years. Does the excitement during premiere night ever change?

Every opening night is magic -- it never changes because the films and opening night festivities change -- for example, this year we were at the funky Underground Cinema on Spadina Avenue. It was a Chinese theatre in the 70's and was recently taken over by some new group. It was a beautiful setting and because we were in Chinatown, we served vegetarian Chinese snacks and started with the North America Premiere of Looking for Lenny with guests, Lenny Bruce's daughter Kitty, the producer Matt Amar and Fred Baker and old and dear friend of Lenny Bruce's.

Which five movies would you say are must-sees this year?

I would not miss Little Rose, Five Hours From Paris, I Miss You, A Jewish Girl in Shanghai and Sous un Autre Jour.

How did the The Three Lennys sidebar series come about?

Ellie Skrow, is our curator of sidebar series and she is the genius behind our sidebar series', starting with our first one, Rhythm and Jews, followed by a spotlight on Comedy, the Blacklisted Writers and last year, People of the Comic Book. She is just wonderful and creative. These topics just pop into her head and away she goes. Getting some of the archival material is the challenge but she is tenacious and never gives up until she gets her film.

The festival just keeps growing and growing. Can we expect an even bigger festival for the 20th anniversary next year?

It's great to keep growing each year, but more importantly, in having quality films to grow with. We are at the mercy of what is out there on any given year, so size is determined by quality.

What other events can we expect from TJFF throughout the year?

We do our Chai Tea series (three or four at the Sheppard and three or four in Richmond Hill). Other opportunities arise and if we can take advantage of them, then we do. For example, this year we have a film about Yom Kippur that lends itself to being shown during the day of reflection between Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur. When we did one a couple of years ago, we were sold out and people wanted more films that speak to the Jewish experience, especially at that time of year.

For more information, visit www.tjff.com.

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