Celebrating its 21st year screening movies that depict the global Jewish experience as a way to promote understanding and celebrate diversity, the Maine Jewish Film Festival will return to the Midcoast to present two films in March … and to participate in the year’s first PechaKucha Night Friday, Jan. 19 (see story linked below).

David Scholder, president of the MJFF board of directors, will make a presentation about the film festival’s 2018 programs at the PechaKucha Night and outline programming for the eight-day 2018 Jewish Film Festival, which will include two film screenings at the Strand Theatre in Rockland.

Saturday night, March 17, MJFF will screen “An Act of Defiance” (2017, South Africa/Netherlands), set in apartheid-ruled South Africa. It tells the story of a renowned lawyer Bram Fisher who struggles to hide his secret affiliation to the nation's chief resistance movement even as he takes on defending a group of its arrested members including its leader, Nelson Mandela. On Sunday afternoon, March 18, MJFF will present “Monkey Business” (2017, USA), a documentary film exploring the behind the scenes look at the extraordinary lives of Hans and Margret Rey, Jewish European refugees who are the authors of the beloved Curious George children's books.

This year’s Jewish Film Festival will run from March 10 through March 18 in locations throughout Maine. In addition to the Strand, screenings will take place: in Portland at the Nickelodeon Cinema, Maine College of Art, Portland Museum of Art, USM Talbot Lecture Hall and Jewish Community Alliance; in Brunswick at the Eveningstar Cinema; in Lewiston at the Bates College Olin Arts Center; in Waterville at the Railroad Square Cinema; and in Bangor at the Bangor Cinema.

Film subjects focus upon immigration, music and dance, visual arts, women and gay rights, intergenerational relationships, comedy, fashion, food and foreign language.

“As the only statewide film festival film in Maine, we’re excited to continue our growth and education while entertaining movie lovers of all backgrounds," said MJFF Executive Director Barbara Merson. “In 2016, nearly 50 percent of attendees identified as being non-Jewish and 30 percent were first time attendees, which encourages us to screen topical films ranging from universal themes to art films.”

For more information about the festival, visit mjff.org.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.