Join us for premieres and previews, meet filmmakers, and engage in conversations about topics central to our community.

Cinematters: Film @ the JCC

JCC Manhattan's film program showcases films that promote change and reflect on pertinent themes. Featuring previews and special engagements, CINEMATTERS emphasizes films on social justice, social action, and matters crucial to our New York community and society at large. Presenting movies from around the world, our screenings include special guest speakers, filmmakers, actors, and other interactive opportunities to further engage with the themes in our award-winning films. We believe films move and impact audiences and are one of the most compelling ways to effect change. We invite you to be inspired, join the conversation, and begin to change our world.


Upcoming Screenings

Winter Season Film Pass
  • 1/1/2016 - 4/30/2016
  • $50.00 / $70.00

Purchase a pass for our acclaimed series and enjoy a spectacular season of preview and premiere films, special cinematic events and discussions. Enjoy cutting edge films from around the world, documentaries and special engagements, followed by conversations with filmmakers and special guest speakers.

*USAGE NOTES: Winter season runs from 1/1/16-4/30/16. This pass is for personal use only. Passes do not include film festival screenings. To assure tickets to each screening, reservations are still necessary. Please claim tickets in the JCC lobby. Pass does not constitute ticket to films/events.*

Refugee Kids: One Small School Takes On the World
  • Tue, Feb 09 7:30 PM
  • $9.00 / $12.00

Dir. Renee Silverman and Peter Miller (USA, 2014, 40 min)

The film follows students at a New York City summer program for children seeking asylum from the world’s most volatile conflicts. It presents an intimate, emotionally gripping account of the students’ stories of escaping war and conflict and resettling in America, chronicling their triumphs and setbacks as their lives unfold over the course of one formative summer. Refugee Kids humanizes complex geopolitics and depicts the challenges and urgency of immigration to America in an increasingly dangerous -- and interconnected -- world.

Screening followed by Q&A with the directors. Copresented with A.R.T. and HIAS.

Equal Means Equal
  • Thu, Feb 11 7:00 PM
  • FREE for Everybody

Dir. Kamala Lopez (USA, 2016, 100 min.)

Equal Means Equal is an unflinching look at how women are treated in the United States today. By following both real-life stories and precedent-setting legal cases, director Kamala Lopez discovers how outdated and discriminatory attitudes inform and influence seemingly disparate issues from workplace matters to domestic violence, rape and sexual assault to the foster care system, the healthcare system to the legal system. Along the way, she reveals the inadequacy of laws presently in place that claim to protect women, ultimately presenting a compelling and persuasive argument for the urgency of ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.

Presented by A Better Balance. Screening followed by Q&A with the director.

A Shtetl in the Caribbean
  • Tue, Feb 16 7:30 PM
  • $9.00 / $12.00

Dir. Sherman De Jesus (Netherlands, 2014, 99 min.)

This road movie documentary tells the never-before-seen and compelling story of two childhood friends, children of Jews who fled pogroms and poverty and ended up in the Caribbean. In search of their family history in Eastern Europe, they travel through the Caribbean, the United States, Belarus, Ukraine, and Israel. We witness their discoveries, courage, and despair as they are confronted with the sacrifices their parents had to make to provide them with a better future. The film offers a unique voice to the mostly unknown story of the Jewish communities in the Caribbean.

Screening will be followed by a Q&A with the film's director.

Most Likely to Succeed
  • Tue, Feb 23 7:30 PM
  • $9.00 / $12.00

Dir. Greg Whitely (USA, 2015, 86 min.)

The current educational system in the United States was developed a century ago, during the rise of the industrial age, and was once the envy of the world. However, the world economy has since transformed profoundly, but the US education system has not. Schools are attempting to teach and test skills, when mastered, that still leave graduates woefully unprepared for the 21st Century. After presenting this problem, the documentary focuses on the story of a school in San Diego that is completely rethinking what the experience of going to school looks like. As we follow students, parents, and teachers through a truly unorthodox school experience, the audience is forced to consider the question: what sort of educational environment is most likely to succeed in the 21st Century?

Screening presented in partnership with The Jewish Education Project and The Shefa School.

The Good Son
  • Tue, Mar 01 7:30 PM
  • $9.00 / $12.00

Dir. Shirly Berkovitz (Israel, 2013, 52 min)

The incredible story of 22-year-old Or, who secretly finances his sex change operation in Thailand by lying to his conservative parents, and then returns home as a woman to face her new life, her family, and the cost of living her dream.

A Tribute to Ephraim Kishon
  • Sun, Mar 06 6:30 PM
  • $15.00

Ephraim Kishon was an author, playwright, script writer, and film and theater director whose films and books have been translated into 38 languages.

In 2002, Kishon received The Israel Prize for his contribution to Israeli society. WZO and The Council for Hebrew Language and Culture will hold a special tribute to his work that includes a screening of Kishon’s 1971 feature film The Policeman (Ha-Shoter Azulai), songs from several of his movies, as well as a conversation on Kishon’s unique contribution to the Hebrew language with his son Amir Kishon.

Screening followed by Q&A with Ruby Namdar. Presented by Hagigah Ivrit.

Look at Us Now, Mother!
  • Tue, Mar 08 7:30 PM
  • $9.00 / $12.00

Dir. Gayle Kirschenbaum (USA, 2015, 86 min.)

Filmmaker Gayle Kirschenbaum presents a raw, fearless, and bitingly funny portrait of both her childhood fraught with shame and humiliation, and her adulthood scarred by its fallout. Woven together from decades of personal home movies, photos, and videos, Look at Us Now, Mother invites audiences to join her on her quest to love, understand, and forgive her aging mother before it’s too late. As these two formidable women travel down the bumpy road of discovery, their relationship changes before our eyes, and teaches universal lessons of family dynamics, empathy, and the power of forgiveness.

8th Annual ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival
Reelabilities Film Festival
  • 3/10/2016 - 3/16/2016
  • $9.00 / $12.00
Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt
  • Tue, Mar 22 7:30 PM
  • $9.00 / $12.00

Dir. Ada Ushpiz (Israel/Canada, 2015, 124 min.)

Hannah Arendt, a well-known German-Jewish philosopher, caused an uproar in the 1960s by coining the controversial concept "banality of evil,” in reference to the Nazi regime. Her private life was no less controversial, due to her love affair with the renowned German philosopher and Nazi supporter Martin Heidegger. She was one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, who lived through and wrote about the open wounds of modern times. Today, Arendt’s insights about the nature of evil, the plight of refugees, and the dangers of any ideology are more relevant than ever. The deep humanistic message at the core of her thinking is equally relevant. This film offers an intricate portrait of Hannah Arendt, showing the places where she lived, worked, loved, and was betrayed. Through the creative use of archival materials, the film also revives her brilliant analysis of the turmoil of the 20th century.

Projections of America
  • Tue, Mar 29 7:30 PM
  • $9.00 / $12.00

Dir. Peter Miller (Canada, 2014, 52 min.)

During the darkest hour of the WWII, a team of idealistic filmmakers hoped the power of the movies could reshape the world. Led by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Robert Riskin, the filmmakers created 26 short documentaries about American life, which were shown to millions of people around the world. The “Projections of America” films told stories of cowboys and oilmen, farmers and window washers, immigrants and school children, capturing the optimism and messiness of American democracy. But 70 later, the films have disappeared. John Lithgow narrates this story of war, idealism, and the power of cinema.

Wedding Doll
  • Tue, Apr 05 7:30 PM
  • $9.00 / $12.00

Dir. Nitzan Gilady (Israel, 2015, 82 min.)

Nominated for Best Film at the 2015 Ophir Awards and selected for the Toronto International Film Festival. Hagit, a young woman with a mild mental disability, works in a toilet paper factory. She lives with her mother, Sarah—a divorcée who gave up her life for her daughter. Hagit strives to secure a measure of independence from her loving but overprotective mother. When a relationship develops between Hagit and the son of the factory owner, Hagit hides it from Sarah. When the factory closure is announced, Hagit’s unrealistic expectations for the future place her at odds with her mother.

Copresented with ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival.

Eva Hesse
  • Thu, Apr 07 7:00 PM
  • $9.00 / $12.00

Dir. Marcie Begleiter (USA, 2016, 105 min.)

As the 1960s came to a close, Eva Hesse, a 34-year-old German-born American artist, was cresting the wave of a swiftly rising career. She was one of few women recognized as central to the New York art scene, and her work was finally receiving the critical and commercial attention it deserved. When she died in 1970 from a brain tumor, the life of a passionate and brilliant artist was tragically cut short. Jonathon Keats wrote in Art and Antiques Magazine, “Yet the end of her life proved to be only the beginning of her career.” Her work is now held by many important museum collections including the Whitney, MoMA, the Hirschhorn, the Pompidou in Paris, and London's Tate Modern. Eva Hesse deepens our understanding of this extraordinary artist. With new interviews, high quality footage of Hesse's artwork, and newly discovered archival imagery, this documentary traces Eva's path and also engages in a lively investigation into the creative communities of 1960s New York and Germany.

Co-presented with the Lambert Center for Arts + Ideas

The Armor of Light
  • Tue, Apr 12 7:30 PM
  • $9.00 / $12.00

Dir. Abigail Disney (USA, 2015, 88 min.)

What price conscience? Abigail Disney’s directorial debut follows the journey of an Evangelical minister trying to find the courage to preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America.  Reverend Rob Schenck, an anti-abortion activist and fixture on the political far right, breaks with orthodoxy by questioning whether being pro-gun is consistent with being pro-life. Reverend Schenck is perplexed by the reactions of his friends and colleagues who warn him away from this complex, politically explosive issue. Along the way, Rev. Schenck begins to work with Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, an unarmed teenager who was murdered in Florida and whose story has cast a spotlight on “Stand Your Ground” laws. These unlikely allies go through trials of conscience, heartbreak, and rejection as they bravely attempt to make others consider America’s gun culture through a moral lens. The film is also a courageous look at our fractured political culture, and an assertion that it is, indeed, possible for people to come together across deep party lines to find common ground.

Screening followed by Q&A with the director.

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