URBANA — Movies have a way of bringing people together and sparking conversation. That’s the idea behind the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Film Festival, a four-film event that kicks off Sunday at the Spurlock Museum.
Its mission: to bring the “Jewish community together in order to enjoy, celebrate and learn about our rich culture through film and the ensuing discussion,” said festival coordinator Yael Gertner. “It is also an opportunity for us to connect with the wider community in hopes of getting to know one another and identifying with each other’s struggles, joyous moments and endeavors as we identify with the characters in the films.”
The films, to be shown over four Sundays in February and March, explore the Jewish experience and increase awareness and understanding of Israel and the Jewish community, organizers say.
Each film, which range from documentaries to rom-com to drama, will be followed by a discussion with a guest speaker.
“We wanted to have a variety of topics to engage the younger and older populations,” Gertner said of the lineup, presented by the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation in conjunction with the Jewish Community Center of Chicago. “We also wanted to choose films that were well-made and are exciting to watch so people will have a good time.”
— “Sustainable Nation,” documentary, 5 p.m. Sunday, with UI Professor Evan DeLucia and Liat Maggid Alon of the Israel Institute.
— “Leona,” drama, 5 p.m. Feb. 16, with UI Professor Dara Goldman.
— “Children of the Inquisition,” documentary, 5 p.m. March 1, with filmmaker Joseph Lovett, via Skype.
— “Love in Suspenders,” comedy/romance, 5 p.m. March 29, with community member Marganit Weinberger-Rotman.
All movies will be shown in Spurlock’s Knight Auditorium, 600 S. Gregory St., U. Tickets are free, and no registration is required.