Even the most ardent cinephiles are impressed when they watch new films in a festival setting. Yes, an all-virtual festival is exciting but there’s nothing quite like seeing a film live on the big screen. That’s why all the cancellations of in-person film festivals due to COVID-19 were such a big disappointment last year.

This year is different, however, and the annual Rutgers Jewish Film Festival presented by The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life is back—live and better than ever—for its 22nd year.

At the same time, this year's festival has a virtual component as well, which makes things comfortable for everyone.

Uniquely, the festival will host both virtual and in-person screenings—a sort of hybrid festival format that should work for everyone.

There’s nothing like the feeling of being surrounded by fellow film lovers, watching movies in an audience setting and getting to commiserate with fellow audience members about the newest in freshest films to hit the festival circuit. But there are people who still don’t feel comfortable with a bunch of people in public settings so this festival has something for everyone.

According to MyCentralJersey, five of this year’s films from the United States, Israel, Germany and Switzerland will be screened in person at the Rutgers Cinema and the Princeton Garden Theatre.

They are Wet Dog, Kiss Me Kosher and Yerusalem, The Incredible Story of Ethiopian Jewry showing at Rutgers Cinema. Princeton Garden Theatre will screen Here We Are and Neighbours.

These are important, award-winning films of international acclaim and share the same theme: the Jewish experience in depth.

If you’ve never been to a film festival you absolutely have to experience it. Seeing a film for the first time, (and one that most of the world hasn’t had the opportunity to see yet) is a thrill. And you won’t just see a film.

In most cases, screenings will include either the movie director or a scholar well-versed in cinema to dissect the film and discuss it with you and the other members of the audience. Meeting the people behind a film turns watching a movie into an adventure.

The virtual films screened through the festival are accompanied by webinars including discussions and in-depth analyses that are sure to bring a more well-rounded perspective to the viewing experience.

The festival, live and virtual runs from Nov. 7 to 21.

There’s an all-access pass that gives you access to all virtual films and filmmaker Q&As at the Festival.

Tickets for in-person screenings must be ordered online through the theaters starting Nov. 7. Screenings at Rutgers Cinema are free, but tickets must be reserved in advance.

All visitors must be fully vaccinated and wear masks in the theaters. Find out more info here.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi Franco’s own.

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