With a Focus on Diversity, Jewish Film Fest Returns to Staunton

Forbidden relationships. Finding common ground in unlikely places. These topics and more will be in the spotlight this weekend as Mary Baldwin College hosts the Fourth Annual Staunton Jewish Film Festival.

SJFF Poster

Temple House of Israel and the Spencer Center at MBC are sponsoring the two-day event with screenings in the college’s Francis Auditorium. Discussions led either by MBC faculty and staff or Rabbi Joe Blair will follow each film.

Organizers chose this year’s theme, Community Diversity, and selected films that explore cross-cultural relationships, love, religion, and family. They hope that the Festival will continue to gain momentum and become one of the many cultural events that draw people from all over the region to Staunton.

“The broad ranging audience attending the films and the discussions that follow reflect the diversity and thoughtfulness of the Staunton community,” said Steve Grande, MBC’s director of civic engagement.

The fest kicks off at 2 p.m. February 5 with the screening of Seven Minutes in Heaven followed by Jaffa at 5 p.m. and For My Father at 8 p.m. Sunday’s films begin at 1 p.m. with Arranged and will continue at 3 p.m. with Inside Hana’s Suitcase.

“The films raise important questions on a range of issues including, but not limited, to faith and religion,” Grande said. “They challenge our students and the greater community to also consider questions about identity, ethnicity, history, art, community and diversity.”

Admission to each film is $8; $5 for a (non-MBC) student ticket. A full-festival pass for all five films is $35. There is no admission for students using their MBC ID. Tickets may be purchased at Stone Soup in Waynesboro, Coffee on the Corner in Staunton, or at the Spencer Center on the Mary Baldwin campus.

Inclement weather dates are February 12 and 13.

Full Film Festival Schedule

February 5

Seven Minutes in HeavenSeven Minutes in Heaven

A year after a bus bombing in Jerusalem, a survivor tries to stitch together the fragments of her life and soul. The film presents an exploration of memory and meaning. A Q&A session with Rabbi Joe Blair of Temple House of Israel will follow.

2 p.m.


Family dynamics are explored when an Israeli woman falls in love with a Palestinian man who works in her family’s business with her bigoted brother and father. Assistant Professor of Psychology Matthew Hunsinger will speak afterward.

5 p.m.

For My Father

After his explosive vest fails to detonate, a Palestinian spends the weekend with the people he was planning to kill (while his vest is repaired) and forms attachments to his new companions. Then he needs to make a choice about life and meaning. Bruce Dorries, associate professor of communication, will lead the after-film discussion.

8 p.m.

February 6


A story of the struggles faced by two religiously observant young women, one Jewish and one Muslim. They find they have much in common, including preparing for arranged marriages. The film highlights religious differences handled with respect and understanding. After the screening, Heather Ward, director of International Programs at the Spencer Center, will moderate a panel of multicultural women.

1 p.m.

Inside Hana’s Suitcase

A true-life mystery to uncover the details of Hana’s life after her suitcase — confiscated years earlier as she entered the concentration camp — is sent to the Tokyo Holocaust Museum. A film of astonishing power and hope. Professor of Philosophy Roderic Owen will speak after the screening.

3 p.m.


Morgan Alberts Smith '99 is the web producer and social media manager for MBC's Office of Communication, Marketing, and Public Affairs.