Mashey Bernstein, Writing Program lecturer, has curated a special sidebar for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival called KOLNOA, which is Hebrew for “cinema.” It features eight documentaries that reflect on the Jewish and Israeli experience from historical, religious, sociological, and political, as well as personal, perspectives. These films examine aspects of Jewish life from Holocaust survivors to ardent Zionists. They open a window into what it means to be a Jew and an Israeli in the twenty-first century. The festival is held Jan. 16 through Feb. 5.
Bernstein got the idea for the sidebar--a first for the SBIFF--when he attended the Jerusalem Film Festival last summer and saw the extensive number of films being made in Israel that never come to the United States. “I felt that with the demise of the Santa Barbara Jewish Film Festival there should still be an opportunity for people to see the diversity and complexity of perspectives being produced in Israel and elsewhere,” he said. “I went to Roger Durling, executive director of the festival, and suggested the idea and he immediately agreed. “
Bernstein looked at more than 40 documentaries before making the final selections, which include world and U.S. premieres. One entitled “Life is Strange” features two UCSB professors: Walter Kohn, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, and Harold Marcuse, professor of history.
One of the other selections, “Nicky’s Family,” details the efforts by a young non-Jewish businessman to rescue 600 children from Prague before the Holocaust. Fifty years later, their grandchildren and others inspired by his work have set up a foundation to help children all over the world. “I defy anyone to have a dry eye during the last part of the movie,” Bernstein said.
Bernstein has been involved with SBIFF for five years as a mentor for its 10-10-10 competition, in which students write and produce scripts that are shown on the last day of the festival. He takes a class (FMS 119) to the Telluride Film Festival every summer.