Everyone is Welcome

The Toronto Jewish Film Festival returns with 77 offerings from 20 countries.

The Toronto Jewish Film Foundation produces programming and projects offering the best feature films, documentaries and shorts from Canada and around the world, on themes of Jewish culture and identity. The foundation is dedicated to using films for their contemporary popular value and accessibility in order to reflect the diversity of the Jewish experience internationally.

Co-founded in 1993 by artistic director Helen Zukerman, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF) was created to heighten awareness of Jewish cultural diversity in Toronto, which, at the time, was limited in the film industry, according to the organization’s website.

It began as the “downtown” festival and proved to be a creative, exciting way to introduce people in the city and surrounding areas to Jewish culture and how it fits with the multicultural kaleidoscope that is Toronto. The festival set out to be a showcase of the diversity of Jewish life and cultural experiences around the world.

Now in its 31st year, the TJFF features comedies, documentaries, dramas and even the occasional “I did not know they were Jewish” discovery. This year’s TJFF ran from June 1 to June 11 and screened movies and videos at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk and Innis Town Hall, with a selection of virtual screenings also available through tjff.com. The TJFF presents films in their original languages, with subtitles, in an effort to break down racial, cultural and religious barriers and stereotypes.

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This year’s program offered a diverse lineup including new, engaging Canadian films, dozens of moving international features and stories from all over the world, from Uganda to Ukraine — there was even a modern-day musical set in Toronto. This year, the festival screened 77 films from 20 countries, including 28 in- person and online Canadian premières. Their plots unfolded in settings around the world, affording viewers glimpses of other places and times, including a small Jewish community in rural Uganda and a Yiddish Ukrainian village on the Polish border.

Through the presentation of international and Canadian films, the festival aims to be both a window to and a mirror of Jewish culture, providing an opportunity to heighten awareness of Jewish and cultural diversity around the world to audiences of all cultures and backgrounds.

The festival strives to be inclusive, appealing to every member of the Toronto community regardless of age, social or religious affiliation or income. With a goal of exposing the non-Jewish community to the global multiculturalism and diversity of Jewish life, TJFF screens films that have contemporary, popular value and that address the subject of Jewish identity — that is, it strives to be a Jewish film festival but not a film festival solely for the Jewish community.


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Monica Marano

Monica Marano