Atlanta Jewish Film Festival returns for 16th year

+An+AJFF+audience+prepare+to+watch+a+screening+of+%22Remember%22+starring+Christopher+Plummer.+The+Cobb+Energy+Center+hosted+the+festival%27s+opening+screening+on+January+26+%2C+marking+the+third+time+the+festival+has+premiered+at+the+Energy+Center.

An AJFF audience prepare to watch a screening of “Remember” starring Christopher Plummer. The Cobb Energy Center hosted the festival’s opening screening on January 26 , marking the third time the festival has premiered at the Energy Center.

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is back for its 16th year in the Atlanta film scene. The festival launched last Tuesday, January 26 and runs until Wednesday, Feb. 17. The event showcases over 50 films from 22 different countries.

Started in 2000, the AJFF was founded by the Atlanta Regional Office of American Jewish Committee to promote cultural awareness and to strengthen the bonds of the Atlanta Jewish community. The event has grown into Atlanta’s largest film festival and had a whopping 38,600 attendants in 2015.

To associate director Brad Pilcher, the AJFF’s message of cultural connection still rings true after 16 years.

“We feel like this is the safe space for everybody to come together, in a movie theatre, to learn about each other and learn about themselves,” Pilcher told the Georgia State Signal.

Festival attendants file into the theater after a "Sweet Sixteen" themed gala to celebrate opening night. The gala was open only to Sponsor- and Patron-level donators, attendants who donated more than $5,000 to the festival.
Festival attendants file into the theater after a “Sweet Sixteen” themed gala to celebrate opening night. The gala was open only to Sponsor- and Patron-level donators, attendants who donated more than $5,000 to the festival.

2016 marks the first Icon Award for Contributions to the Cinematic Arts at the festival. The award is a prize for excellence in cinema influenced by Judaism. The first filmmaker to receive the award is Lawrence Kasdan, screenwriter and director for films like “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Big Chill.”

Sophomore artist Ellie Reingold finds value in expressing culture through art as Jewish filmmakers do.

“[Art] speaks to you emotionally,” Reingold said. “It allows you to discover [your culture] yourself and find your own meaning.”

Reingold is Jewish and uses her heritage as inspiration for her artwork.

“Your culture and your religion inform your aesthetic choices and the meanings that you want to get across,” Reingold said

Festival screenings show in eight Atlanta venues, including the Cobb Energy Center and Tara Cinema. AJFF ticket prices range from $9-$18 based on when screenings occur.

Photos courtesy of Atlanta Jewish Film Festival