Darkside Cinema hosts Jewish film festival

Joey Bauer, the Darkside Cinema manager, is pleased to host the Corvallis Jewish Film Festival 2018 on the second and third Sunday of April.

Tristan Bailey, Practicum Contributor

Beit Am Mid-Willamette Valley Jewish Community promotes Jewish art

Upon entering the Darkside Cinema in Corvallis, guests are immediately greeted with the smell of popcorn, the ticket counter and the chatter of movie-goers waiting in line.

On the second and third Sunday of April, the Darkside Cinema will be hosting the Corvallis Jewish Film Festival 2018, a cultural event put on by the Beit Am Mid-Willamette Valley Jewish Community.

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Joey Bauer, the Darkside Cinema manager, said the theatre has hosted similar events in the past and was eager to do so again.

“We thought this would be a good opportunity to screen films from a culture that not a lot of people have had exposure to,” Bauer said. “This festival presented a great opportunity to invite this town into a culture’s perspective through a cinematic voice. We are very pleased to have hosted it.”

Within the Beit Am organization, the Arts and Culture Fund Committee exists to promote Jewish artistic and cultural achievements and share them with the wider community, Marjorie Sandor, committee member and a professor of English and creative writing at Oregon State University, said.

Mike Aronson has been the coordinator of the committee for 11 months and came up with the idea for the Corvallis Jewish Film Festival 2018.

“We received a grant from a retired couple to sponsor a Jewish cultural event in Corvallis. My committee is made up of seven people and we began work on this event in May of 2017,” Aronson said. “I organized people to do the work to make the festival possible. I contacted (film) distributors, I contacted sponsors and arranged ticket sales. A lot of business-type activity.”

The films were chosen based on their connection to Jewish culture, Aronson said. A film may be shown at the festival because of its subject matter, or the filmmakers’ own background.

“These films are non-religious, non-political and non-devotional; they’re just cultural,” Aronson said. “One film is directed by a man that is not Jewish, but the short story he based his film on was written by a Jewish author, so there are all kinds of possible connections.”

The Committee worked hard to get a diverse group of films to show at the festival, Sandor said.

“A small committee, of which I am a member, decided to inaugurate the Fund with a Jewish Film Festival,” Sandor said in a phone interview. “We did some more fund-raising, and watched dozens of film trailers and together, chose a variety of films, getting a range of European, Israeli and American films, and everything from dramatic features to documentaries.”

The festival is a chance for audiences to get a glimpse of a world that may be unfamiliar to them, Sandor said.

“We hope to inspire curiosity and a willingness to look and listen. These films all celebrate universal human experiences, and offer us a chance to slow down, and see beyond our usual limits and quick judgements of those we think are ‘different’ from us,” Sandor said.

The Corvallis Jewish Film Festival 2018, put on by the Beit Am Mid-Willamette Valley Jewish Community, will be hosted by the Darkside Cinema on the eighth and fifteenth of April. Audiences of all backgrounds are encouraged to attend.