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Festival focuses on films featuring Jewish ideology

Portrait of a Sequential Artist.' The film will be shown at the Columbus Jewish Film Festival this month.

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The sixth annual Columbus Jewish Film Festival is under way.

The festival, a product of Columbus’ Jewish Community Center, kicked off Sunday and will run until Wednesday before picking up again Nov. 14-16.

Bringing acclaimed films to Columbus audiences is one of the main goals of the festival, director Emily Schuss said.

“These are award-winning films all over the world that never make it to Columbus any other way,” she said.

The films in this year’s festival include the French film “Un Secret,” “Eli and Ben,” which is in Hebrew, and the documentary “Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist.”

Films chosen for the festival must have a Jewish connection first and foremost, said June Frankel, festival co-chair.

“We certainly look for a Jewish connection, at the very least through a Jewish director,” she said. “But there really has to be some thread of Jewish values.”

For this year’s festival, organizers chose films with a wide variety of themes.

For example, “For My Father” deals with Pakistani suicide bombers in Israel, while “Off & Running” touches on gay adoption.

“Sometimes we’re content to have films with the same sort of theme,” Schuss said. “But we found a huge variety of films this year that has to deal with suicide bombers to the founder of the sequential arts … to adoption, to baseball.”

This year’s line-up features a mix of documentaries and feature films. Documentary Sunday on Nov. 14 at Gateway Film Center will focus exclusively on documentaries, including the film “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story,” narrated by Dustin Hoffman.

Narrowing down the festival line-up to 11 films was not easy.

“I probably watch 50, 60, 70 films over the course of the year and we slowly narrow it down to pick the best ones,” Schuss said.

The festival will take place at various locations around Columbus, including the Canzani Center at the Columbus College or Art and Design, The Drexel Theatre, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus, Gateway Film Center, the Columbus Museum of Art and Arena Grand Theatre.

The schedule of this year’s films is available at cjfilmfest.org.

Though the festival is now in its sixth run — and its first in November after midterms prevented students from attending previous years’ festivals held in March — organizers want patrons to leave the festival eager for next year’s go.

“We want them to feel like they can’t wait for the film festival to come back again,” Schuss said.

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