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Boston Jewish Film Fest's 25th Anniversary

September 17, 2013

The Boston Jewish Film Festival is celebrating its 25th year in the community in which InterfaithFamily is headquartered. We’re looking forward to the many films coming to Boston this year, and a couple in particular, about interfaith couples, which I got to screen early.

One Small Hitch is a rom com for young adults, not-so-young adults, those who are in interfaith relationships or not—in essence, it appeals to everyone. The film centers on Josh and Molly, who is Josh’s best friend’s kid sister. They’re flying solo, so to speak, on their way from LA back home to Chicago for Molly’s mother’s wedding. Both have just broken up with their significant others. After Josh finds out that his dad has cancer and his dying wish is to meet the woman Josh will marry, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

One Small Hitch
Josh (Shane McRae) and Molly (Aubrey Dollar)

Playing “engagement” leads to real romance between Josh, who is Jewish, and Molly, who is Irish-Catholic. All of the typical interfaith questions spring up immediately upon landing in Chicago. How will they raise the kids, the Jewish side wants to know? The families are excited but skeptical and the religious issues elicit comedy, not serious drama. In fact, the sentiment “The important thing is, they’re in love,” is agreed upon fairly early on in the movie, and the interfaith questions lose center stage to the bigger question: Will they fall in love for real?

Blumenthal
Harold Blumenthal (Brian Cox)
I also got a peek at the film Blumenthal, which is a darker comedy that involves more relationship than romance. The film is hilarious, if you like dry humor of the "neurotic Jew" variety. The story takes place during the sitting shiva of a successful New York playwright, Harold Blumenthal, who literally died laughing at his own joke. His brother Saul, and Saul’s son, Ethan, aren’t exactly choked up about their loss. Saul has much more complicated feelings associated with his brother and his death. Both father and son happen to be in interfaith relationships—the former with his second wife, the latter with a girlfriend, and these significant others play a significant role in the film as the complex process of grieving Harold plays out.

Blumenthal
Ethan Blumenthal (Seth Fisher)

Certain moments in the film capture the intricacies of interfaith relationships very honestly. Such as when Ethan explains to his girlfriend Christina that his family is sitting shiva, and also that Jews send food, not flowers after a death. Instead of explaining shiva to his girlfriend, he says, “Don’t worry about it.”

She replies: “I’m not worried about it, I just don’t know what that means. …Do you know what it means?”

Thus is the teaching and learning that often happens between a couple around life cycle events and holidays. After Ethan breaks up with Christina, she sends flowers to his parents, either out of spite because Ethan’s kind of a jerk, or because she felt it was the nice thing to do. But Ethan’s step-mother, Cheryl, receives them joyfully—thank goodness, not more food!

When Cheryl laments that it’s a shame they broke up, Ethan says, “It’s not a shame. She wasn’t even Jewish.” He says that Christina can’t understand his world of American Jewish neuroses, but when Cheryl suggests he date a Jewish girl, he says a Jewish girl would understand him too much. Delivered perfectly by Seth Fisher who is also writer and director, Ethan’s lines are laugh out loud.

“She could convert,” Cheryl suggests.
 

“No, no, no. Then she’d become enthusiastic. Then I’d have to match her enthusiasm.” Lines like these throughout the film are not only funny, but they capture the nuances of dating woes for a many young singles. One of my favorite brutally honest lines from Ethan is: “I sometimes process other people’s good news as my bad news.”

Tickets for the Boston Jewish Film Festival are now on sale. Learn more here, and at bjff.org

Hebrew for "seven," refers to the seven days of mourning following the funeral of a family member.
Lindsey Silken

Lindsey Silken is the editorial director of InterfaithFamily and lives with her husband in Brookline, MA.

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