Tragedies, comedies documentaries: Jewish Film Series offers wide range of emotions

'The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer'

photo 'The Art Dealer'

Divorce Israeli-style. Hunting Nazi war criminals. Tracking down stolen art. A ladies' man who's also a Nobel Prize winner.

These plots and others are featured in the eighth annual Jewish Film Series, which debuts Wednesday with movies from the USA, Uruguay, France and Israel. The films screen each Wednesday through May 27 at the Jewish Cultural Center, 5461 N. Terrace Road.

"Three were their country's entry to the Academy Awards for best foreign language films and a fourth entry was (entered in the Oscars) for best documentary," Chattanooga Jewish Film Series chair Sanford Wine says in a news release.

Center spokeswoman Ann Treadwell says all the films are suitable for anyone over 16 years of age. The $7 ticket price comes with free popcorn and a soft drink.

Here are a few bites of plot from each movie to help whet your film-fan appetite:

photo 'Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem'

* April 29. "Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem." This courtroom drama, which focuses on a woman's five-year fight to get a divorce from her husband, won the Best Picture category in last year's Ophir Awards, Israel's version of the Oscars. The film shines a spotlight on Israel's justice system, where only courts adjudicated by rabbis can grant divorces and the decision should reflect the rabbis' interpretation of God's will. Divorces are granted only after the husband gives his permission, a law dating back to the Ottoman Empire. "Gett" sparked protests in Israel to change the law.

* May 6. "Mr. Kaplan." Described as a black comedy from Uruguay, it sounds a bit like a modern version of Don Quixote with an elderly Jewish retiree as the combative idealist and a chubby hitman as his faithful companion. The duo believe a mysterious German visitor is actually a Nazi war criminal and plot to kidnap him and take him to Israel to stand trial.

* May 13. "The Art Dealer." Esther is a Jewish journalist based in Paris who embarks on a search for her family's art treasures, which were stolen by Nazis. It should make her family happy, but her uncle and father angrily try to block her efforts and argue her hunt will trigger terrible memories. Esther finds disturbing clues about what really happened. The ending, critics promise, will shock even the most jaded film buff.

* May 20. "The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer." Forget Shakespeare. If you want to meet a man who wrote amazing, faceted, vibrant female characters, Isaac Bashevis Singer is your man. This documentary tries to determine whether those fictional ladies were based on real women, including his wife. And it also assesses the Nobel Prize-winning author as a ladies' man.

* May 27. "The Green Prince." Hamas was founded in 1988 to free Palestine from Israeli occupation and establish a Palestinian state. Hamas launched attacks, including suicide bombings and rockets, against Israeli soldiers and civilians. Over the years, the Human Rights Watch has condemned both Hamas and Israeli troops for attacks on each other's civilians. Surely there must now be an impenetrable wall of hatred between Hamas and Israel. Well, this movie tells the true story of a Hamas founder's son who was so disillusioned by the brutality he became an Israeli spy and helped prevent suicide bombings.

Contact Lynda Edwards at or 423-757-6391.

photo 'Mr. Kaplan'