The shows go on, online

The shows go on, online

JCC Rockland’s Jewish Film Festival goes virtual

A scene from “Crescendo,” which plays at the Rockland JCC’s Jewish Film Festival beginning Monday evening. 
© CCC Filmkunst (OliverOppitzPhotography)
A scene from “Crescendo,” which plays at the Rockland JCC’s Jewish Film Festival beginning Monday evening. © CCC Filmkunst (OliverOppitzPhotography)

In the March 6 issue of this paper, we previewed the 14 films that had been scheduled to play at the JCC Rockland’s Jewish Film Festival, beginning on March 28.

Needless to say, none of the films ended up onscreen in Nanuet or Suffern.

But starting on Sunday night, the JCC Rockland’s Jewish Film Festival will begin streaming on your computer, iPhone, or Roku — if you will it. Yes, the festival is going virtual, which means North Jersey residents can take part without having to cross state lines.

Credit for this incarnation goes to Iddo Patt and his son Theo. The senior Patt is a commercial film producer in Memphis. In 2015, he chaired the board of IndieMemphis, the local film festival. He asked his son to look for an online system to help manage ticketing and passes for a film festival. Theo came up empty, so he built one himself.

Thus was born

“We turned it into a business,” Iddo said. “By the beginning of this year we had signed 130 festivals around the world.”

Then came the weekend of March 6. Mr. Patt was in Boulder, Colorado, for its film festival. “Friday night there was a full house of 800 people in the theater,” he said. “By Sunday things had gotten very sparse and very strange.

“We realized we needed to find something we could offer our partner festivals to show movies online in ways that are secure, that allow them to include sponsors, that allow for live panels and Q and As and things like that,” he said. “There was nothing on the market to do all this stuff, so once again my son and I decided to build out this virtual festival platform on top of our ticketing system.”

They started work on March 13. Less than a month later, they were streaming films.

And when Micki Leader was looking for a provider for the now-virtual Rockland Jewish film festival, there he was.

Ms. Leader is the long time organizer of the film festival. “When we started this in 2004, it was 35 millimeter film and it cost you $350 to ship a movie’s five reels to the next festival,” she said.

Going virtual brought a whole new set of technologies. “Live and learn,” she said.

And while the virtual experience doesn’t offer the communal gathering that is a great feeling — when there’s no plague — it does offer advantages. Part of the thrill of a film festival is the post-film speaker. With many foreign films and not too big of a budget, it’s tough to bring the creators to Rockland. Scheduling a video chat with them, however, is much easier.

Ms. Leader said she plans to have three live Q and A sessions; the other films will be accompanied by pre-recorded interviews. “You can’t be live with everybody,” she said. That’s due to time zone issues — and a fear of tempting the gremlins that all too often plague unrehearsed technology. Even three live sessions “is a heck of a lot of of nailbiting,” she said. “We hope everybody will be patient if there are some tech issues. We’re going to have a wonderful level of speaker.”

Speaking of tech issues: Patt’s Eventive company has live tech support staff on hand to help you if you have problem getting the system working. Watching on your laptop is as simple as clicking a link and logging in. To watch on your Roku or Apple TV, you’ll need to install the Eventive app.

Each film will be available for 48 hours. “Hate Among Us,” a documentary on anti-Semitism, will screen to ticketholders starting at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday night. You may watch it as many times as you want until 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. Next week also features “Crescendo,” a drama about a joint Israeli-Palestinian youth orchestra, and the documentary “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles.”

The film festival was able to secure the rights to virtually show all but one of the 14 films it had originally lined up to show in theaters. One new film has been added to the roster: “There Was No Silence,” a documentary about JCC Rockland’s effort to get a minute of silence for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the Munich Olympics in 1972. “I’m hoping we’ll pull more people in,” Ms. Leader said. “They don’t have to find the theater, they don’t have to rush to get there on time. You click with your email. If it’s a husband and wife watching at home, they only need one ticket, so it’ s bargain.”

What: 14 Jewish films

When: Beginning Sunday night, June 28, through July 29

How long: Each film is available
for 48 hours

Where: On your computer, phone, or smart TV

How much: $14 a single film, $100 for festival pass

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