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Sizing things up in its 7th year: JCC's annual film festival opens with Israeli crowd-pleaser
Masada Siegel

Size matters, or does it?  Is thinner better? Or is bigger, bolder and happier the answer? Sometimes, when you go to the movies a new perspective takes hold, grabs you, making you think.  The headliner film of the 2010 Rockland County Jewish Film festival, "A Matter of Size," wrestles the viewer into thinking differently about obesity, using Sumo as its vehicle.

The festival opens on Sunday, May 2 and runs through Wednesday, May 26, bringing a myriad of viewing options from around the world; some are funny, while others are poignant, from Austria to Argentina and everywhere in-between. However, the best films tackle subjects that touch us, make us think and depict the importance of taking risks and doing the right thing despite popular opinion.

The Israeli film, "A Matter of Size," opens the JCC's annual film festival this year.
The opening night film, "A Matter of Size" will play at Lafayette Theatre in Suffern. It was written by Sharon Maymon and Danny Cohen Solal and directed by both Maymon and Erez Tadmor. The film which also seen at the 2009 Tribecca Film festival has plenty of positive reviews.

The story is about a character dealing with obesity issues. Herzl (Itzik Cohen) is and always has been overweight. Now, unemployed, living at home with his mother in Ramla and banished from his weight-loss program, he finds himself washing dishes in a Japanese restaurant.

At work, he is introduced to sumo wrestling, and is enchanted, finally finding something where size is considered an asset. With a few of his large friends, he pursues his newfound passion, ultimately transforming all of their lives, not to mention perspective.
"The idea for "A Matter of Size" came up when I understood that I wanted to deal with the subject of self-acceptance." Director Sharon Maymon explained, "During my research for an original way of dealing with this subject I came across the art of Sumo wrestling and chose to write a story about the coming out of the closet of shame of a bunch of really fat guys."

Authors often write what they know and Maymon who grew up in the small city of Ramle, Israel, felt it was only natural that his heroes would also be from Ramle. He also based it on various characters he knew there.

The film takes the viewer on a journey where through sumo the characters connect to themselves and their body; each one in his own way accept their obesity and relate to their body.

Co-chair and founder of the JCC Rockland 7th Annual International Jewish film festival Micki Leader explained in a phone interview, one of the reasons, "A Matter of Size," won hands down as the headliner.

 "Obesity is a major problem in the USA and the world. This film has comedy and a tremendous impact as it handles the issues with dignity and humor." Leader said, "It does show this particular weight control program as being very unsympathetic to individuals. The twist to how the hero's life changes when he finds something that he likes and achieves tremendous success. It is a great opening night film, one which will make you laugh out loud."

The film took the Israeli directors to Japan for Sumo training. Director Erez Tadmor, said, "The biggest challenge during our production was the Sumo training. We wanted the Sumo scenes to look as professional as possible and it was clear that we had to study it thoroughly."

The directors went from one Sumo University to another to watch tournaments and interview students.

Tadmor said, "We had our actors go through some exhausting Sumo training and work with an Israeli Sumo trainer three months before the shoot began, training three times a week under the strict auspices of our local Sumo trainer, who paid attention to the last and most tiny detail which also prompted them to have the perfect timing during the shoot itself."

Timing is crucial in films as well as film festivals. Jewish film festival founder and co-chair Micki Leader explained why she pursued creating a film festival.

"Inside Hana's Suitcase" blends documentary and dramatic techniques to bring to screen the story of Japanese schoolchildren who solve the mystery of Hana Brady, whose name is printed on a suitcase they received from Auschwitz.
"The film festival started seven years ago." This was after Leader had read a study, which explained how young Jewish adults best connected to their culture through film and TV.
"I brought the idea to the executive director of our JCC and said we needed to do this."
She forged ahead, searching for sites to play films and begged these venues to work with her. Leader credits her success to a great deal of help from Jewish Film Festival folks from all over the country and Brandeis University, and to her co-chair Evan Kuperman and Rockland Toyota.

Persistence and determination paid off, much to the delight of movie attendants. Now, the festival is a much looked forward to event and attendance grows each year. Last year over 6000 tickets were sold.

2010 Jewish Film Festival

A Matter of Size
Sunday, May 2, 7 p.m.
Lafayette Theater

Saviors in the Night
Tuesday, May 4, 7:30 p.m.
AMC Theatres

Ahead of Time
Wednesday, May 5, 7:30 p.m.
Clarkstown High School South

Jump
Thursday, May 6, 7:30 p.m.
AMC Theatres

Hey Hey it's Esther Blueburger
Saturday, May 8, 9:30 p.m.
RCC Cultural Arts Center

Eli & Ben
Tuesday, May 11, 7:30 p.m.
RCC Cultural Arts Center

Camera Obscura
Thursday, May 13, 7:30 p.m.
AMC Theatres

Sugihara
Monday, May 17, 7:30 p.m.
Ramapo Cultural Arts Center

Menachem & Fred
Friday, May 21, 1 p.m.
Lafayette Theater

Wedding Song
Saturday, May 22, 9:30 p.m.
Riverspace

Yoo Hoo Mrs. Goldberg
Sunday, May 23, 7:30 p.m.
AMC Theatres

Wedding Song
Tuesday, May 25, 1 p.m.
AMC Theatres

Inside Hana's Suitcase
Sunday, May 25, 7:30 p.m.
Ramapo Cultural Arts Center

William Kunstler
Wednesday, May 26, 7:30 p.m.
RCC Cultural Arts Center

Call 362-4400 ext. 105 or visit www.jccrockland.org

May 2010