Photo Credit: Justin Schein

by Celina Colby

The Boston Jewish Film Festival returns November 2-13 for its 34th year, bringing largely independent films centered on Jewish stories to Boston. This year the festival is a hybrid model, offering online screenings of movies as well as in-person screenings and programs at locations like the Coolidge Corner Theatre, the Museum of Fine Arts, and West Newton Cinema.

Social issue documentarian Lisa Gossels has taken the reigns as the festival’s artistic director. As a Wayland native and filmmaker who has showcased films in the festival before, the experience is something of a homecoming for Gossels.

“The 16 film programs we are presenting reflect the richness and diversity of Jewish life and experience in an increasingly multi-cultural world,” says Gossels. One of my goals is to show the broad spectrum of Jewish religious, secular, and cultural experience, including films about Jews who are multiracial and Sephardic.”

The 2022 festival showcases films from 15 countries, including 14 full-length films and two short film programs: FreshFlix and Legacy & Identity. In keeping with Gossels’ work to showcase a diverse spectrum of artists and stories, 52% of this year’s films are produced by women.

Gossels curated the Legacy & Identity short film program, which features seven films across a series of genres. Nine of the filmmakers involved will join the festival for the in-person screenings.

“It’s about legacy and identity and memory and intergenerational relationships,” says Gossels. “That is a very special program because it really reflects so much of what I wanted to communicate in terms of who we are in all of our diversity and all of the identities we can inhabit.” 

Headlining films in the 2022 festival include “Remember This,” in which Academy Award nominee David Strathairn portrays Jan Karski, a Polish courier who risked his life to tell the world about the horrors of the Holocaust while there was still time to stop it. When his reports fell on deaf ears, Karski struggled to recover. This film will be followed by a conversation with David Strathairn, director/co-writer Derek Goldman, director/cinematographer Jeff Hutchens, and producer Eva Anisko at the Museum of Fine Arts.

“Repairing the World” is another powerful piece documenting the community response to the devastating massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Following the screening, Director Patrice O’Neill will have a dialogue with two members of the synagogue who were also interviewed in the film.

In difficult and ever-changing times, Gossels hopes the power of film and storytelling will be cleansing and empowering for the Greater Boston community.

“Films are empathy-generating machines. Movies offer filmgoers the opportunity to get to know and to care for individuals they might never have met before,” says Gossels. In watching a fiction or nonfiction film, you’re putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.” 

Tickets and full festival passes are on sale now at