THE FRAMING of an entire film festival around nothing more than a cultural thread as broad as "Jewish" is a bit of a musty old tradition. You say "Jewish," and I say, "Can you be more specific?"
The 20th annual Portland Jewish Film Festival is upon us, and it's a very mixed bag that includes recent films, documentary, animation, and drama, as well as 1933's Counsellor at Law and 1964's Sallah. And while I doubt there's ever been a showcase of Jewish film that has not touched on the Holocaust, it doesn't dominate, and the festival also grapples with topics as diverse as autism (Mabul) and talking cats (The Rabbi's Cat).
Nonetheless, one of the festival's most outstanding dramas, Remembrance, is the true story of a romance between a young couple who met in a concentration camp and made a miraculous escape only to be separated for the next 30 years. In the documentary category is Five Broken Cameras, assembled from amateur footage taken by a farmer living in the Palestinian village Bil'in, famous for its nonviolent protests against Israeli land encroachment. Terrifying and undeniable, it's required viewing for everyone living in a time shaped by this conflict. For more info and festival showtimes, see nwfilm.org.