The Jewish Museum and Film at Lincoln Center are once again partnering to co-present the 32nd New York Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF), screening from January 12 through January 23. A 4K restoration of the 1997 documentary A Life Apart: Hasidism in America directed by Oren Rudavsky and Menachem Daum is set to debut alongside 20 films and eight shorts representing 16 countries, offering “a snapshot of the Jewish experience around the world at this time.”

The NYJFF highlights Charlotte Salomon: Life and the Maiden (2022) as the festival’s centerpiece. The French-Language film offers an “intimate and expansive new look” at its namesake, Charlotte Salomon, a prolific German-Jewish artist who completed over 1,000 artworks before she was murdered at Auschwitz at age 26. Its presentation as part of the NYJFF on Wednesday, January 18 marks its world premiere, and it will be accompanied by a Q&A session with co-directors Delphine and Muriel Coulin.

Mirissa Neff makes her directorial debut in the New York premiere of This is National Wake (2022). Interpolating archival footage and crunchy audio interviews, Neff tells the story of a Jewish guitarist and two Black musician brothers joining forces to create a multicultural rock band in 1979 during South Africa’s apartheid regime. Those who are excited to learn more about the short-lived countercultural moment rippling in the wake of racist policies can view the film on Saturday, January 14.

Still from I Am Not (2021) by Tomer Heyman

I Am Not (2021), a multi-language film directed by Tomer Heymann, follows the story of Oren Levi, a Guatemalan adoptee to an Israeli family who struggles to adapt as he copes with boarding school, his diagnosed neuro-divergence, and yearning for the connection to his long-lost biological family. The film is described as a coming-of-age story documenting the path to self-discovery and screens this Thursday, January 12, followed by a Q&A session with Heymann and Levi (who will participate virtually).

On Wednesday, January 18, the NYJFF will present Shorts by Women, a series of five short films directed and produced by Jewish women that highlight LGBTQ+ narratives, agency in sexuality, loss, and tradition through experimental animation and film techniques. One short in particular, “My Parent, Neal” (2021), reflects on the gender transition of director Hannah Saidiner’s parent through colorful, hand-drawn animations. Directors from three of the five shorts will answer questions after the screening.

Still from A Life Apart: Hasidism in America (1997)

Closing out the festival is Alegría (2021) directed by Violeta Salama. The film follows the story of a single mother returning to her hometown of Melilla, an autonomous Spanish city situated in North Africa, for her niece’s Orthodox Jewish wedding ceremony. Alegría refuses to acknowledge her Jewish heritage and finds the interactions she has with her family members frustrating and claustrophobic. The film also illustrates the rich Jewish history of Melilla, which Salama describes as “one of the main characters” of the story. Alegría will screen on Sunday, January 22, followed by a Q&A with Salama.

Guests can purchase tickets digitally to view single and multiple screenings coupled with select programs at the Walter Reade Theater in Manhattan or tune in online for the two-film virtual bundle showcase.

Rhea Nayyar (she/her) is a New York-based teaching artist who is passionate about elevating minority perspectives within the academic and editorial spheres of the art world. Rhea received her BFA in Visual...