Maine Jewish Film Festival returns for 18th year

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PORTLAND — This year’s Maine Jewish Film Festival, from March 14-21, features 23 movies, including comedies, dramas, edgy documentaries, a French film noir and even a documentary starring “the Israeli Bruce Springsteen.”

The festival, now in its 18th year, is bringing movies to three Portland locations. Nickelodeon Cinemas, at 1 Temple St., will screen most of the films; others will be shown at the Portland Museum of Art, in Congress Square, and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, at 561 Congress St.

The festival will also screen shows in satellite locations at Frontier Cafe, 14 Maine St., Brunswick, as well as in Augusta and Waterville.

The “global Jewish experience” is the common subject of the films, six of which are making their New England premieres. The 2015 festival focuses on three related themes, according to its organizers: “Diaspora,” “Icons” and “Perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian Experience.”

But the movies’ appeal crosses many cultural, ethnic and religious boundaries.

“The Celluloid Closet,” showing Thursday, March 19, at 8 p.m., at Nickelodeon, is a 1996 documentary about Hollywood’s treatment of gay actors and issues. The film stars legends such as Tony Curtis, Whoopi Goldberg and Susan Sarandon.

“East Jerusalem-West Jerusalem” is a 2014 “rockumentary” making its New England premiere. The film depicts the eight days in which David Broza, an Israeli music superstar, cut an album with legendary musician Steve Earle and other Israeli, American and Palestinian artists. “East Jerusalem-West Jerusalem” is showing at Nickelodeon, on Wednesday, March 18, at 3:30 p.m., and at Salt, on Thursday, March 19, at 6 p.m.

A 2014 film, “Little White Lie,” chronicles the true-life experiences of a white, Jewish girl whose dark complexion creates confusion within herself, her family and her black college classmates. The film will be screened three times during the festival: Sunday, March 15, at 3 p.m. at the PMA, and at 6 p.m. at Frontier; and on Wednesday, March 18, at 6 p.m. at Salt.

Tickets for all festival screenings are $9. More information is at 253-3422 or mjff.org.

The festival also features a forum of famous female filmmakers, who will discuss “Action! Documentaries That Move Us” on Sunday, March 15, at 10 a.m., at the PMA.

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