This year, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF)  streams Ontario-wide from June 3 to 13, 2021. TJFF2021 offers a curated programme of 60+ films showcasing the best in Jewish-content film from Canada and around the world. 

The Micki Moore Award for best narrative feature by a female director is awarded to Aviva Armour-Ostroff for LUNE. Armour-Ostroff co-directed, co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in Lune. This is the first time a Canadian director has received the Micki Moore Award, a $5,000 prize. The film stars queer actors Chloe Van Landschoot and Vlad Alexis.

“The jury found Lune to be exceptionally brave, not only in its narrative, but also in its cinematic and directorial choices. The film’s nuanced attention to the historical intricacies of Jewishness, race, and global political power, offer a unique perspective and position Armour-Ostroff as an important, emerging voice in the Canadian film landscape,” commented the jury for the Micki Moore Award.

Maya Tiberman and Kineret Hay-Gillor, directors of ALONE TOGETHER, receive the David A. Stein Memorial Award, a $5,000 prize to the director of the best documentary making its Canadian Premiere at TJFF.

“We were unanimously moved and impressed by Maya Tiberman and Kineret Hay-Gillor’s Alone Together. They created an incredibly intimate portrait of Ravit. We feel it is important to tell stories of people like Ravit who truly give of themselves and make a small corner of the world a better place,” added the jury for the David A. Stein Memorial Award.

The NextGen Award for Best Short Film goes to GOLDEN GYM by Tamir Aharoni & Gil McNeil, with a special mention going to The Immersion by Yulya Bexugli. A jury composed of ten students in York University’s Department of Cinema awarded the $500 prize

Golden Gym, directed by Tamir Aharon and Gil McNeil, showcases a high degree of technical skill in its delightful stop-motion animation. Within a short span of time, the directors created a delicate piece of art, revealing a complexity of emotions and a unique perspective. Creative, poignant, and quirky, this piece captured the attention of everyone on the jury,” commented the jury for the NextGen Award.


Below is a highlight of LGBTQ+ films:
Kiss Me Kosher, dir. Shirel Peleg, Germany/Israel
A love story where cultures clash and families must overcome their religious difference when Shira, an Israeli, and Maria, her non-Jewish, German girlfriend get engaged. All of which is captured on video to full comic effect by Shira’s younger brother for a school project.
Summer of ‘85, dir. François Ozon, France/Belgium
The unparalleled intensity of first-time love is sumptuously rendered in François Ozon’s masterful coming of age tale. When charismatic David rescues Alex from a capsized boat, the two embark on a passionate relationship, fuelled by Alex’s all-consuming love.
Two, dir. Astar Elkayam, Israel
Initially optimistic about starting a family, Bar and Omer eagerly comb through a catalogue of potential donors and face the insemination process with humour. But when Omer fails to become pregnant, an underlying sense of failure threatens to undermine their relationship.
* Note: also playing at Inside Out
Marry Me However, dir. Mordechai Vardi, Israel
The emotional devastation wrought by marrying against one’s sexual orientation for the sake of complying with Orthodox religious obligations is examined through the experience of gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews. 
We Were the Others, dir. Hadas Ayalon, Israel
Israel is known for its support of LGBT rights, but that was far from the case in the 1960s and 70s. In this illuminating documentary, six gay men recount the challenges and dangers of living openly at a time when laws left over from the British mandate decreed homosexual acts illegal and homosexuality was considered a mental illness. Featuring clips from the films of Amos Guttman, a pioneering gay Israeli director, this eye-opening documentary charts the history of Israel’s gay rights movement from its inception.

What’s On?

See below for an overview of films screening, and click here for the complete schedule, including live Q&As. 

Narrative Films:

Co-director, co-writer and star Aviva Armour-Ostroff, co-director and co-producer, Arturo Pérez Torres with queer actors Chloe Van Landschoot and Vlad Alexis.
*Centrepiece Film
**Micki Moore Award Winner

The Specials
Real-life protagonists Stephane Benhamou and Daoud Tatou
*Closing Film

Summer of ‘85 (Été 85)
Writer and author Aidan Chambers (Dance on My Grave)

Tiger Within
Director Rafal Zielinski, star Ed Asner, and screenwriter Gina Wendkos

Documentary Films:

The Adventures of Saul Bellow
Director Asaf Galay with Janis Bellow and Professor Ruth Wisse

Alone Together
Directors Kineret Hay-Gillor and Maya Tiberman and film subject Ravit Raichman
**David A. Stein Memorial Award Winner

Becoming Nakuset
Director Victoria Anderson-Gardner and Nakuset

High Maintenance
Director Barak Heymann

Labyrinth of Peace
Series Creator and writer Petra Volpe, director Mike Schaerer and star Annina Walt

Lebanon – Borders of Blood
Director Duki Dror

Love It Was Not
Director Maya Sarfaty

Marry Me However
Motti Salzberg, a clinical social worker; Yocheved Grunberger Lindenbaum, an Orthodox Jewish educator and hospice chaplain; Yitchak (Yitzi) Lindenbaum, a youth counsellor for religious teens at Jerusalem Open House

Mighty Ira
Co-director Nico Perrino, with former executive director of the ACLU, Ira Glasser and Danielle McLaughlin of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Raymonde El Bibaoia
Director Yael Abecassis

Director Ron Chapman
*Opening Film

Directors Marcia Rock and Naomi Guttman-Bass, with film subject Nancy Zeitlin and participant Khaled Efranji

Archival Programme:

Crossing Delancey 
Actors Amy Irving, Peter Rieger, and Deborah Offner, with filmmaker and author of upcoming book Joan Micklin Silver: From Hester to Hollywood, Daniel Kremer

The Dick Van Dyke Show: Now in Living Color & Ten From Your Show of Shows
Painter, photographer and filmmaker Lucas Reiner and Emmy Award-winning writer, director, producer, Bill Persky

Lies My Father Told Me,  Love on The Nose, & Ted Allan: Minstrel Boy of the 20th Century
Daughter Julie Allan and granddaughter Gabrielle Allan Greenberg with actors Saul Rubinek and Marilyn Lightstone

While these are challenging times for the non-profit arts sector, TJFF is deeply aware that there are vulnerable members of the community whose well-being is at an even greater risk due to the impact of COVID-19. For a second year, TJFF is highlighting two grassroots organizations that service the often neglected and most in need. To help support the vital work they do, ticket purchasers will have the option to donate a portion of the ticket price to Mazon Canada and The Stop Community Food Centre .


About the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF)
Founded in 1993 by Artistic Director, Helen Zukerman, the TJFF was created to heighten awareness of Jewish and cultural diversity in Toronto and around the world. Films have included such world-renowned hits as: Sublet (Eytan Fox), Shiva Baby (Emma Seligman), Tel Aviv on Fire (Sameh Zoabi), Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles (Max Lewkowicz), RBG (Betsy West, Julie Cohen), A Tickle in the Heart (Stefan Schwietert), and Hebrew Hammer (Jonathan Kesselman), as well as Academy Award-winners The Counterfeiters (Stefan Ruzowitzky), and West Bank Story (Ari Sandel). The Canadian Archival series shines a light on the rarely seen Jewish contributions to Canadian film and television. TJFF is presented by the Toronto Jewish Film Foundation, which runs programmes and events throughout the year.  TJFF2021 Online runs from June 3 – 13, 2021.


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About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.