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Column: Jewish film fest opens with fanfare at Cobb venue
by Sally F. White
Northside Neighbor Columnist
January 23, 2013 02:23 PM | 2782 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sally White, Northside Neighbor Columnist
Sally White, Northside Neighbor Columnist
This month will mark the 13th year for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival to host the showing of new, exceptional, cutting-edge films across the metro area.

This year’s 22-day cinematic extravaganza, Jan. 30 through Feb. 20, explores Jewish life, culture and history and seeks to use the power of film to both entertain and educate as the screenings challenge conventional perspectives on complex and challenging issues facing both the Jewish and global communities.

The festival will open with a Jan. 30 red-carpet fanfare screening of the feature film, “Hava Nagila (the movie),” at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre near Vinings. The movie traces the cultural impact of the instantly recognizable Hebrew folk song from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the formative years of Israel to a bar mitzvah staple. The ubiquitous dance melody (which translates to “Let us rejoice”) was later popularized by mainstream crooners such as Harry Belafonte and Connie Francis, as well as in novel renditions by Glen Campbell, Bob Dylan, Elvis, Lena Horne and even Chubby Checker.

Surprisingly, the song was eventually adopted by seemingly every nationality, even in countries with no connection to the tune’s Jewish roots. A pre-show reception for guests, film celebrities and sponsors will feature food tastings from renowned local chefs, as well as a silent auction of exclusive entertainment packages.

“We are excited to partner with Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre,” festival Executive Director Kenny Blank said. “The convenient location and state-of-the-art facility offers a wonderful experience for our patrons.”

Founded in 2000, the Atlanta festival ranks as the largest film festival in Atlanta with 30,000 moviegoers in 2012, and as the second largest Jewish film festival in the U.S., second only to San Francisco.

Featuring an international collection of 71 narrative and documentary films that explore the Jewish experience. Besides the Cobb Energy opening, screenings will be held in five metro locations: Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station Stadium 16, Lefont Sandy Springs, Georgia Theatre Co. Merchants Walk in east Cobb, United Artists Tara Cinemas 4 in Buckhead and Regal Cinema North Point Market 8 in Alpharetta.

Showings will be supplemented by guest appearances with filmmakers, actors, authors, academics and other authorities. Festival moviegoers will cast their ballots for the Best Narrative and Best Documentary features, as well as separate balloting for narrative and documentary short films. Winners receive the festival’s Audience Award and are honored with encore screenings. Producing the Atlanta festival is the nonprofit American Jewish Committee.

Building bridges of understanding with local, national and international leadership, the Atlanta chapter of more than 1,800 member families has been a pioneering human relations agency taking a major role in interfaith, inter-ethnic, international and intra-Jewish affairs. More than just “a night at the movies,” the festival is contemporary storytelling with the ability to impact the way audiences feel, think and behave after leaving the theater.

Tickets and information: (404) 806-9913 or visit

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Sandy Springs’ 2-year-old Ian Yagoda’s battle with an inoperable brain tumor in 2007 has inspired his young allies to host the Ice for Ian’s Friends benefit Sunday.

The event will take place at the Marietta Ice Rink No. 2 in east Cobb, and donation tickets will include entry to the rink and a yummy hot chocolate bar. The more, the merrier to help raise money for pediatric brain tumor research for children like Ian.

Sponsor-level tickets include skate rentals. New this year are raffles and door prizes for middle and elementary school students who skate to participate. Local dedicated high school student Erin Beiner is once again leading the host committee for the Ian’s Friends Foundation fundraiser.

The nonprofit was created by Ian’s parents, Cheryl and Phil Yagoda, when he was diagnosed and they found that pediatric tumors were not at the top of the list for research.

Currently, funds raised are supporting groundbreaking, life-changing research projects at Children’s Healthcare of Los Angeles, Weill Cornell Medical College and NYU-Langone Center, both in New York, and a partnership between Emory University School of Medicine, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Tickets and information: (404) 966-0752 or visit

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The annual Atlanta Heart Ball Feb. 2 at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead will highlight a National Heart Month series of events starting with a National Wear Red Day Feb. 1.

The month-long events will call attention to the fact that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for women. The ball brings community and philanthropic leaders together to “Ignite” the mission to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke through research and educational programs in Atlanta and across the nation.

This year’s overall chair is Kerry W. Kohnen with Emory University professor Raymond F. Schinazi serving as the Open Your Heart Chair. Funds will benefit the work of researchers and volunteers who improve and save lives through the efforts of the nonprofit American Heart Association.

“Today we are changing the way the world thinks about health and life. We’re transforming attitudes and behaviors, so people everywhere can experience the best possible health today and for the rest of their lives — through research, education and advocacy,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.

Information: (678) 224-2065 or visit

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A reminder! Trinity School’s 2013 Spotlight on Art Artist Market moves from the Saks Fifth Avenue holiday preview at Phipps Plaza to the full-scale, annual show-and-sale in the school’s gym on its Northside Parkway campus Feb. 4 through 9.

It is open to the public and one of the largest and most diverse art exhibitions and sales in the Southeast. Spotlight on Art includes expanded selections of jewelry including Valentine’s Day gifts for men, home-and-garden décor plus whimsical and humorous pieces, to add to the appeal to serious art aficionados and casual collectors alike.

Attendees also have the choice of informational and entertaining ways to participate and benefit the school. There will be two meet-the-artists evenings: Opening Night Feb. 4 and Cocktails and Canvasses Feb. 8. A formal grand finale gala will culminate the fundraising series Feb. 16 at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead.

Volunteers chairing the events are: overall 2013 project chair Michelle Anderson, market co-chairs Tina Fantucci, Molly Jamieson and Kelley Oakley and auction co-chairs Betsy Armentrout and Alison Dickson.

Trinity is an independent, co-educational school serving preschool and elementary levels.

It accepts children of diverse backgrounds and focuses on providing extraordinary educational experiences for each young learner.

Proceeds from the annual art event go toward scholarship funds and continuing teacher education.

Tickets and information: (404) 231-8119 or visit

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Atlanta teens are getting into the rhythm of 2013 educational art happenings at the High Museum of Art in Midtown. Kicking off in February are two free Thursday evening Open Studio sessions: the Feb. 7 Sewn Valentines and Carved Stamps creative gift making event followed by the Feb. 21 Bottle Cap Pins and Embroidery in the Greene Family Education Center.

The Feb. 15 free Grand SLAM Art of Poetry creative program will feature artist Thornton Dial and his powerful “Hard Truths” sculptures as inspiration for young poets to explore their own “hard truths” in rhyming words. This Friday evening session also coincides with an adult member (parent) Jazz Night at the High for an artful family evening out.

There are also three creative ArTLab classes in the Alliance Black Box Theatre designed for teens at a nominal $20 supplies fee: the Feb. 9 “Assemblage” event creating artworks from found objects and paint to explore social issues, the Feb. 16 “Paint & Needle” crafts class inspired by the current Diego Rivera exhibit at the High and the Feb. 23 “Corset Casts” event using plaster cast and paint as symbols of who you are — also inspired by the Diego-Frida Kahlo exhibit.

The museum’s Teen Advisory Council (Teen Team), headed by Coordinator Beth Malone, is an outgrowth of the Young Audiences at Woodruff Arts Center, Georgia’s leading provider of arts-in-education programming.

The overall mission is to transform the lives and learning of young people through the arts by providing a diverse array of curriculum-based assemblies, workshops and residencies in music, dance, theatre, literary and visual arts. Most of the after-school evening sessions are free to high school students 15 years and older. Participants do not have to be members of the museum.

Information: (404) 733-4465 or visit

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