Baseball, Baltimore & A Bombshell Brainiac

Jewish Film Festival returns in February

Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel

The 22nd annual Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival (GPJFF), running February 11–25 at three theaters, will bring 21 international films to the Valley, including the Arizona premiere of a documentary following a ragtag team of professional Jewish American athletes playing in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Coinciding nicely with the start of Cactus League Spring Training, Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel documents Team Israel’s surprisingly successful run during the international baseball tournament held in South Korea. In a David-versus-Goliath ballpark story, the team, comprised of current and former Jewish Major League Baseball players, represent the small country with only one professional baseball field. The film’s co-director, Seth Kramer, will appear February 18 in Scottsdale and conduct a post-screening questions-and-answer session with the audience.

Bombshell-The Hedy Lamarr Story

Other highlights of the festival include several fascinating documentary subjects, including Hollywood classic film star and secret inventor Hedy Lamarr (Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story); Rat Pack member and surprise Jewish convert Sammy Davis Jr. (Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me); and violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman (Itzhak).

This year’s Classic Film selection is the 1990 film Avalon by Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson. Part of the filmmaker’s “Baltimore trilogy,” the semi-autobiographical drama follows the immigrant Krichinsky family and explores the themes of Jewish assimilation into American life.

The film festival features a rich assortment of independent Jewish cinema that travels from the baseball stadiums of South Korea to the sound stages of Hollywood and from the segregated towns of apartheid South Africa to the raucous Coney Island boardwalk. Films screen Valley wide at three Harkins Theatres — Scottsdale, Tempe and Peoria.

GPJFF co-executive director Jerry Mittelman is excited to present films reflective of the rich and diverse Jewish people, culture and faith. “The Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival stands as a point of pride for the Jewish Community and as a point of understanding, awareness and acceptance for the community at large,” Mittelman says.

For more information on films or to purchase tickets, call 602.753.9366 or visit

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