A chat with Lindy Tamir, JIFF sponsorship & group bookings manager

December 8, 2015

We are thrilled to have had a one-on-one chat with Lindy Tamir (Sponsorship & Group Bookings Manager) at JIFF HQ recently. In this month’s blog feature Lindy reveals her top 10 film screenings, what makes the films relevant to the festival and what it is about JIFF that keeps us going back year after year!

What’s different or unique about the Jewish International Film Festival this year?

Jewish Film Festivals have been running in Australia for 26 years. We have been running it as JIFF for the past fours years.

I think we have a trusted brand now, and filmmakers with the type of films we want, are looking to launch their films with us. For all four years our films have been half Israeli and half Jewish, half documentary and half film. That’s continued but now we have so many more films. It was a great year for Jewish and Israeli films. So that’s one thing that is different about this year.

Another different thing about this year is that we’re taking another step. We’ve been in Melbourne and Sydney since we started, and last year we went to Auckland, Gold coast and Perth. This year we’re trying Auckland, Brisbane and Perth. So we’re switching Gold Coast to Brisbane. We’re just trying it out, we don’t know if Brisbane and Perth are going to take off. So this year we’re trying to build that more.

Melbourne and Classic Cinemas are home to JIFF but Sydney is exploding and trying to catch up. It’s a much smaller program in Brisbane, Auckland and Perth but if there’s a demand there we can always grow it.

Do you think you need a Jewish community to support the Jewish International film festival?

I think we do. Even though there are films that are for a general audience, when we look at who comes it’s mainly the Jewish community. For example we have this film called Experimenter. Every psychologist knows who Stanley Milgram was. It’s not that it’s a Jewish film. It’s about him and his obedience experiments but it’s mostly the Jewish community who will come to see it.

What do you think JIFF means to the local community in Melbourne?

I think the Jewish community knows what we are now. They know that there are Jewish and Israeli films, and they know we have the populist films as well as the interesting niche choices. I think they trust that they will like most of the films they go to.

In the past people would come and see five films and now they’re booking ten from the start. People trust the program and so people are committing. In fact, a cute thing happened yesterday, somebody thought that the events pages were our programs and they bought everything. That’s what their tickets were, just the events.

When people from the community come and see films do you think the space or platform that JIFF provides has a point of difference to any other Jewish organisations?

I think we’re the biggest Jewish community event organisation. People say that if they go to their synagogue or the Jewish organisation that they belong to, like Maccabi for example, they just see their people. But when they come here, they see people they haven’t seen for years. It’s like a meeting place for the community.

Alongside the film screenings we also have great events. For the duration of the festival, we have a falafel stall here, it’s cute, it’s exciting and it’s jam-packed.

How do you source your films?

We go to the Cannes Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, and we’ve been going to Doc Aviv – the documentary festival in Tel Aviv. And what we don’t see at the festival we see sent on a link. We’re already watching a lot of films for next year and most we see but sometimes we will commit to films based on the script if it sounds incredible.

What questions do you ask yourself before you choose a film? What’s the criteria?

Firstly I just want to like it. Eddie’s the director, but I watch the films and so does Tamar. We share it between the three of us. Sometimes we have to be careful to make sure we choose, you know, some people often say there’s too many heavy films so we have to make sure we have some broad comedies and broad commercial films.

An example of one we have taken is only part Jewish, but our audience is going to love it. It was an enormous hit in France this year. It’s called Serial Bad Weddings. It’s a Catholic Parisian-French couple and they have four daughters. One marries a Jew, one marries a Muslim, one marries an Asian… who will the fourth daughter marry? It’s just funny. We have to make sure we have something many people will enjoy. We also have a number of Holocaust related films. It’s a lot of juggling. It’s not a perfect science.

So what makes a film Jewish?

If it’s an Israeli film then it doesn’t have to be specifically Jewish. For example, if it was a Bedouin story in Israeli, it’s okay because it’s an Israeli production.

If it’s a general film from somewhere around the world, then it needs to have some Jewish content for our audience to enjoy.

So that one that you just showed me Serial Bad Weddings – what makes it eligible?

Its Jewish humour, I guess. Wanting your child to marry what you are – there’s a Jewish characteristic in there.

What is one of your top picks for JIFF 2015?

77/78: On The Map So this film, well firstly both Eddie and I grew up playing basketball, so we have a soft spot for this film 77-78. But I am telling everyone to see it, including women who wouldn’t normally be attracted to a sport game, all different types of people. Because its about the politics around the basketball.

Even I was old enough to be around to know that Israel had just won this important European basketball game. And they were such a young country, and Israelis say that’s what put them on the map. But it’s not just about the basketball it’s about the politics around it. Little Israel, you can’t even believe if you watch the footage from these games, are playing the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union won’t come to Israel and they have to go play in Belgium.

Lindy’s top 10 picks are:

77:78 On the Map
The Prime Ministers : Soldiers and Peacemakers
Very Semi-Serious
The Muses of Bashevis Singer
By Sidney Lumet
Censored Voices
A Tale of Love and Darkness
The Kind Words