Five films to catch at the 29th annual St. Louis Jewish Film Festival

Tickets are now on sale for the 29th annual St. Louis Jewish Film Festival, which runs April 7–18 at the recently remodeled B&B Theaters Creve Coeur West Olive 10. While last year saw the festival return to in-person screenings, John Wilson, director of cultural arts for The J, sees this year as a real return to form for the festival, with some exciting changes.

“The festival in 2023 very much felt like an experiment for us,” Wilson says. “I feel like this is the year we say we are returning to the glory days, and we’re going to make it even better.”

One key difference is that, instead of taking place over the course of five consecutive days, this year’s festival has split up screenings across two weeks on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with only two screenings per day. The fest is also offering an all-access pass, which grants admission to all festival screenings, for the first time. 

“We really wanted to make this an event,” Wilson says “Our whole approach was trying to communicate to our community that this festival will help you explore and expand your understanding of what it means to be human.” 

Here are some of the films Wilson recommends you keep an eye out for at this year’s festival:

Opening Night: Celebrating Israeli Filmmakers from Sapir College

For opening night, the festival will be showcasing five student short films from Sapir College in Israel and sharing stories of how their lives were turned upside down by the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7, 2023. Wilson also notes that this unique showcase will feature a Q&A with Yasmin Hoffman, a student producer of the short Elinor, which plays as part of that program

Remembering Gene Wilder

Remembering Gene Wilder is a documentary portrait of the artistic life of Gene Wilder that reflects on many of the actor’s iconic performances, including Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and The Producers, as well as his collaboration with filmmaker and fellow comedy legend Mel Brooks. Wilson also notes that the film’s writer and co-director, Glenn Kirschbaum, will be in attendance to introduce the film and give a post-film Q&A.

Exodus 91

Exodus 91 follows the real-life story of Asher Naim, an Israeli diplomat who was tasked with bringing 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. But as he learns more about these people, Naim begins to struggle with questions about the true intentions behind this mission, whether it is actually out of altruism or if it is merely part of an elaborate publicity stunt. Wilson says that what sets this film apart is its mix of documentary interviews with the real people involved alongside dramatized recreations to tell the story.

The Catskills

This documentary uses a trove of archival footage to paint a vibrant picture of the getaways in the Catskill mountains north of New York City that served as both a refuge for Jewish immigrants fleeing poverty, as well as a luxurious place for affluent Jewish people to get away from the city. This film plays alongside the short Heritage Day, which sees a young girl become obsessed with the Holocaust after dressing up as her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, for her school’s Heritage Day.

The Shadow of the Day

The closing night film of the festival is set in 1930s Italy. It follows Luciano, a restaurant owner and Fascist sympathizer who is mostly isolated from the outside world. But the real world slowly begins encroaching on Luciano’s, as Anna, a woman with secrets of her own, begins working in his restaurant and the two develop a romance. Wilson notes that The Shadow of the Day ranks among the most romantic films he has ever seen. 

To learn more about the 29th Annual St. Louis Jewish Film Festival and purchase tickets to the fest, visit

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