Cinematters at the JCC: ‘To Dust’

By Rachel M.

The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan’s film program showcases films that promote change and reflect on important topics. The year-round CINEMATTERS series presents previews and special engagements of films followed by discussions with filmmakers, actors, and other special guests.

The breadth of films (although many connect to Jewish themes) and the interesting programming that they are able to arrange in conjunction with each screening is a testament to the cache the JCC has developed. The department is run by Isaac Zablocki, Senior Director of Film Programs and the Israel Film Center, who grew up in Israel and served in the IDF’s leading film unit as an educational film producer. He attended film school at Columbia University and went on to work at Miramax films. Isaac has developed the largest online database of Israeli films as well as Israel Film Center Stream, the leading site for streaming Israeli films. Isaac lectures around the world in major institutions and writes for a variety of publications including the Huffington Post.

This past week the JCC served as one of the locations for the premiere of the film To Dust, which was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival last spring and opened in theaters this past Friday. The film stars Geza Rohrig (Son of Saul) and Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), both of whom participated in a lively Q and A after the screening alongside director Shawn Snyder and producers Emily Mortimer (currently playing Jane in Mary Poppins Returns) and her husband, Alessandro Nivolla (Disobedience). Emily Blunt (Mortimer’s co-star in Poppins), Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Peter Sarsgaard attended the screening as well. The film strikes a wonderful balance between drama and comedy, religion and science and life and death. [Read our review of the film from Tribeca here.] It was quite interesting to hear what motivated the acting couple to work on producing this film and how all have come to learn much about Jewish mourning in the process.

The JCC also hosts three film festivals including the ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York (dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with different abilities), the Other Israel Film Festival (takes an in-depth look into Israeli and Palestinian societies and minority populations in Israel), and the Israel Film Center Festival. The schedule for upcoming films can be seen here: