This year’s JAAMM (Jewish Arts, Authors, Movies and Music) Festival marks MACC’s (Mizel Arts and Culture Center) fifth year in bringing together a plethora of arts including literary, music, film and theatre events (a total of 40!). Festival director, Michael Friedman says, “…this Festival will be an incredible celebration of Jewish culture…our program offerings of bestselling authors and internationally acclaimed musicians will raise the cultural bar this year.”
This year’s Festival kicks off with “A Night of Chagall” which will feature the opening receptions of two exhibits and a film. Both exhibits present works of Biblical interpretations, the first, (titled “Marc Chagall and the Bible: Etchings and Lithographs”) by famed artist Marc Chagall, will show some of his lesser known but extravagant and fanciful etchings and lithographs. The companion exhibit, titled “Michelle Barnes: The Good Book, Biblical Illuminations” is by the artist Michelle Barnes, who has won numerous awards for her illustrations in books, magazines and newspapers. The evening finishes out with a free film screening at 7:30 p.m. of Harry Rasky’s Homage to Chagall: The Colours of Love, an enthralling portrait of the legendary artist combining images of his art and rare interviews of Chagall himself.
As always, JAAMM Fest features top Israeli/Jewish musicians in several different music genres. “Our music lineup boasts an enticing array of styles from jazz to classical and everything between,” says Friedman, “Patrons will want to attend multiple concert events.” Returning to JAAMM Fest are two of our most popular past musical acts, The Jerusalem Quartet on Sunday, October 21 at 4 p.m., who will play classics from Beethoven, Shostakovich and Brahms, and The Anat Cohen Quartet on Saturday, October 27, 8 p.m., with special guest Avishai Cohen on trumpet, performing jazz with a South American twist. Also appearing is superstar, Rami Kleinstein on Saturday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m., who has been called “Israel’s Elton John;” Howard Pollack on Sunday, October 28 at 11 a.m., giving a lecture and recital on American Musical Theatre; Rabbi Gershom Sizomu on Sunday, November 4 at 4 p.m., who will perform original Abayudaya Jewish songs and traditional Jewish liturgy set to African rhythms and melodies; and The Shuffle Concert Ensemble on Saturday, November 4 at 7:30 p.m., an innovative idea from Juilliard graduate and pianist, Eliran Avni –you choose, they play! These concerts offer a unique opportunity to experience these world-class artists in the intimate new Elaine Wolf Theatre. All seats for music events are reserved. Tickets are on sale now at www.maccjcc.org/jaamm
In its 46th year, MACC’s Festival of Jewish Books and Authors (the base program around which JAAMM Festival was formed), will again feature a broad spectrum of authors and subject matter. New this year, will be the Festival’s Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Daniel Matt, touted as one of the world’s leading authorities on Kabbalah; he will speak about his book, God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality, as well as give several seminars and lectures on Jewish mysticism and God. This program is produced by the newly-formed Jewish Learning Collaborative comprised of the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver, The Department of Jewish Life & Learning at the Robert E. Loup JCC and Kabbalah Experience.
Other author appearances include Caroline Stoessinger, author of A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommr, the oldest living holocaust survivor (108!); Katherine Janus Kahn, illustrator of the acclaimed Sammy Spider series; Bruce Ferber, the funnyman who penned such comedy shows as “Home Improvement,” “Coach,” and “Growing Pains;” Rich Cohen, contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone; Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge, this year’s Denver Jewish Community Reads 2012 author; and the Festival’s keynote author, Rabbi Harold Kushner, returning to JAAMM Fest to talk about his latest inspirational tome, The Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person. Featured author books are for sale during JAAMM Fest and authors will be on hand to sign them after their talks. Most author talks take place in the Phillips Social Hall at MACC/JCC, 350 S. Dahlia St., Denver, and cost $8 (higher fees for some programs and food events).
For the third year, MACC will co-produce a theatre production with Theatre Or, The Value of Names by Jeffrey Sweet. This critically acclaimed show, directed by local favorite, Richard H. Pegg, featuring poignant subject matter and superb writing runs Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays in the Pluss Theatre at MACC, 350 S. Dahlia St., Denver.
Along with the aforementioned, Homage to Chagall, JAAMM Fest will also feature the Israeli box office smash success, Footnote by director Joseph Cedar on Sunday, Nov. 4, at 7 pm. in the Elaine Wolf Theatre. Footnote is a thoughtful and engaging character study about a father/son rivalry within the esoteric setting of the Talmudic Studies Department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It was nominated for Best Foreign Picture and was the winner of the Israeli Ophir for Best Picture and Best Screenplay at Cannes.
JAAMM Fest is also partnering with The Holocaust Awareness Institute at the University of Denver’s Center for Judaic Studies on the 10th Annual Fred Marcus Memorial Holocaust Lecture featuring filmmaker, Pierre Sauvage, who will give a lecture followed by an exclusive screening of his documentary, And Crown Thy Good: Varian Fry in Marseille on Sunday, October 28, 4 p.m. at Infinity Park Event Center, 4400 E. Kentucky Ave. in Glendale.
One of a few festivals nationwide to supply a plethora of events focused on Jewish culture, this year’s line up is appealing to those who are Jewish as well as the broader community of culture enthusiasts.
This multi-disciplinary festival is feasible, thanks to generous supporters of the MACC (SCFD and The Rose Community Foundation) and combined efforts by an experienced program staff and dedicated volunteers. For more on JAAMM Festival programs or for ticket information visit www.maccjcc.org/jaamm or call (303) 316-6360.