In the end, we return to San Francisco, where despite the infighting sparked by the Rachel incident, the festival is alive and well — and, suggest Snitow and Kaufman, necessarily so, since only by taking on the most painful questions can any conversation about Jewish identity move beyond the circular firing squad so ably illustrated by the film itself. (Perhaps thumbing its nose at its critics, the festival gave its Freedom of Expression Award to the work of Arab-Israeli satirist Sayed Kashua the year after the Rachel uproar.)
Much of this material will not be new to people who have Jewish friends or family members. I've heard versions of the film's conversations in dorm rooms and around dinner tables before. But Between Two Worlds argues that American Jews must continue having those conversations, as wounding and divisive as they have been and will continue to be. The real danger, the film suggests, lies in resting on pat certainties that cut people off from one or another of the two worlds in its title.
Alex Irvine tweets at @alexirvine.
BETWEEN TWO WORLDS | directed by Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman | 70 minutes | Sunday March 18 @ 1 pm | followed by discussion with the directors | Nickelodeon, 1 Temple St, Portland | part of the Maine Jewish Film Festival | mjff.org
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