By Will Christianson
The Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, the second largest of its kind in the country, is screening two music-themed films this weekend. The first film, showing this Saturday and Sunday, is Knowledge is the Beginning, the story of conductor Daniel Barenboim’s controversial formation of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in 1999. This acclaimed orchestra is composed of young Jewish and Arab musicians from Egypt, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia. The six-year spanning documentary, filmed in Arabic, English, German and Hebrew, highlights the unifying powers of music. Former members of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra have been invited to speak at the screenings.
On Monday, for those uninterested in the National Treasure sequel but still in need of a thrilling, global treasure hunt, the PJFF will be screening Beethoven’s Hair. The film, a docudrama that blends interviews and reenactments, follows a lock of Ludwig Beethoven’s hair snipped from his head after his death. The hair travels from Vienna to the wall of a Danish doctor to a Sotheby’s auction. Ultimately, a group of forensic scientists acquire the hair and use it to diagnose the composer’s ailments. Nathaniel Kahn, director of My Architect, will be showing his Oscar-nominated short about concert pianist Leon Fleisher, who lost the ability to play with his right hand. Kahn will also be a guest speaker at the screening.
Saturday, January 19 @ 8 PM and Sunday, January 20 @ 2 PM
Philadelphia Premiere: Knowledge is the Beginning
Sunday, January 20 @ 7 PM
Two Hands/Beethoven’s Hair
Both films shown @ The Gershwin Y
401 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
More info at pjff.org