Multifaith Film Fest

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The Bender JCC is proud to present our 2017 Multifaith Film Fest!

This celebration of faith features five award-winning films and will unfold over five nights, between March 22 – 26. All films will be shown in the Kreeger Auditorium.

Each film was carefully selected for its unique perspectives on identity and discovery, common social and spiritual values and, perhaps most importantly, the intersection of the human experience. They remind us that we are, in fact, not so different after all.

This film fest is the first of its kind in this community; crafted to promote peace, understanding and friendship among the many faith communities in Montgomery County.

We will celebrate our diversity while honoring our differences. We will embrace both the distinctive and common aspects of our customs. Our goal is to promote positive relationships between neighbors and build a greater appreciation for the teachings, customs, history and practices of our community’s faith traditions.

Thank you to the following organizations for their Community Support!

Film Schedule

LET THE CHURCH SAY AMEN Wednesday, March 22nd - 7:00 PM
JERUSALEM Thursday, March 23rd - 7:00 PM
FREE MEN Saturday, March 25th - 8:30 PM
ARRANGED Sunday, March 26th - 10:00 AM
IDA Sunday, March 26th - 6:30 PM


Wednesday, March 22nd
7:00 PM

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I hope to show how faith and community become an essential source of strength for those who want to create lasting change in a society that has remained indifferent to them. (David Peterson, PBS Independent Lens)

There will be a Q&A session immediately following the film with Ariel Levinson-Waldman, Tzedek DC Founder & Director-Counsel, and Pastor Charles McNeil.

Director/Producer/Editor: David Petersen

United States | 2004 | English | 87 Minutes

Awards: Awarded recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as one of the “outstanding documentaries of 2004” and screened in its 2004 Contemporary Documentary Series | Official Selections for the Sundance Film Festival & Berlin Film Festival


Over the course of a year, Let the Church Say Amen chronicles the daily life surrounding World Missions for Christ Church in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Like many urban communities that haven’t benefited from America’s prosperity, these citizens face challenges that would be shocking for any U.S. city, let alone that of the nation’s capital; rampant drug abuse, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and violence.

Yet the strength of this community comes from the powerful faith of a storefront church of modest resources but great spiritual power. Years ago the space was a corner store, now it serves as a sanctuary where members gather every Sunday to sing, pray, testify and work through faith to change the community.


Thursday, March 23rd
7:00 PM

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It may be as close as a person can get to praying at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall, without actually going there. (The Washington Post)

There will be a Q&A session immediately following the film with Father Josh Thomas, Kids 4 Peace Director, and Susan Barocas, part of the JERUSALEM film-making team.

Director/Writer/Producer: Daniel Ferguson

Nat Geo Documentary | 2015 | English | 43 Minutes

Awards: Best Film, Short Subject & Best Cinematography, 2014 Giant Screen Cinema Association


Jerusalem: sacred to half the people on earth; fought over more than any other place in history; conquered and destroyed, rebuilt and reinvented repeatedly over 5,000 years.

JERUSALEM is a breathtaking film that explores on a grand scale the intersection of science, history and religion in this ancient, enigmatic place. Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch (“Star Trek into the Darkness,” PBS’s “Sherlock”), JERUSALEM tells the story of what it means to live in Jerusalem today from the perspective of three female teenagers (Jewish, Christian and Muslim) and their families who have long-standing ties to the city; a story by the renowned archaeologist, Dr. Jodi Magness, which looks at Jerusalem’s past and reveals some of its mysteries; and a spiritual story examining how Jerusalem became a holy city for half our population.

The project is passionately committed to promoting co-existence between the three Abrahamic faiths on an unprecedented scale.


Saturday, March 25th
8:30 PM

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FREE MEN is about a group of Muslims trying to protect parts of the Jewish community – an admirable celebration of siblinghood little seen on the big screen. (Hemanth Kissoon, Filmaluation)

There will be a Q&A session immediately following the film with a representative from HIAS.

Director/Writer: Ismaël Ferroukhi

France | 2011 | French with English Subtitles | 99 Minutes

Awards: Best International Film Jury Award, 2012 Santa Barbara International Film Festival | Narrative Competition Best Director from Arab World, 2011 Abu Dhabi Film Festival


In German-occupied Paris, a young unemployed Algerian named Younes (played by break-out star, Tahar Rahim) earns his living as a black marketeer. Arrested by the French police but given a chance to avoid jail, Younes agrees to spy on the Paris Mosque. The police suspect the Mosque authorities, including its rector Ben Ghabrit, of aiding Muslim Resistance agents and helping North African Jews by giving them false certificates. At the Mosque, Younes meets the Algerian singer Salim Halali, and is moved by Salim’s beautiful voice and strong personality. When Younes discovers that Salim is Jewish, he stops collaborating with the police and gradually transforms from a politically ignorant immigrant into a fully-fledged freedom fighter.



Sunday, March 26th
10:00 AM

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Schaefer and Crespo’s message isn’t subtle, but they give it a fresh face by focusing on women whose identities are shaped but not warped by piety and devotion to ancient cultural values. (Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide)

There will be a Q&A session immediately following the film. Speaker TBD.

Directors: Diane Crespo, Stefan C. Schaefer | Written ByStefan C. Schaefer & Yuta Silverman

United States | 2007 | English | 89 Minutes

Awards: Best Film Grand Chameleon, 2007 Brooklyn International Film Festival | Audience Award for Feature Film, 2007 Washington Jewish Film Festival


Rochel is an Orthodox Jew, and Nasira a Muslim of Syrian origin. Both beautiful young teachers at a public school in Brooklyn, they also have something else in common – they are going through the process of “arranged marriages” through their respective religious and traditional customs. With both family pressure on one side, and the rejection of traditional values by the outside world on the other, Rochel and Nasira learn to rely on each other and their friendship to navigate the balance between striving to be strong women in charge of their own happiness, while honoring their deep religious and cultural convictions.



Sunday, March 26th
6:30 PM

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This rigorous beautiful black-and-white drama of early-’60s Poland is an art film in the best sense. (Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter)

There will be a Q&A session immediately following the film. Speaker TBD.

Director/WriterPawel Pawlikowski

Poland | 2014 | Polish with English Subtitles | 80 Minutes

Awards: 2015 Academy Award Winner, Best Foreign Language Film of the Year | 2015 BAFTA Winner, Best Film Not in the English Language | 2015 Golden Globe Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film


On the eve of her vows in 1960s Poland, 18-year old Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), a sheltered orphan raised in a convent, is tasked by the Mother Superior to visit her sole living relative, her estranged aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza). A worldly and cynical Communist judge, Wanda shocks the naïve and innocent Anna with a stunning revelation: Anna is Jewish and her real name is Ida. Struggling to make sense of this new information, the two women embark on a heart-wrenching journey to uncover the mystery and fate of Ida’s birth parents, leading them to an old family home that holds buried secrets and regrets from the past.