March might be the best month for Boulder moviegoers. From the smattering of archival prints unspooling at CU-Boulder’s International Film Series to the delightfully bizarre and thought-provoking images beaming from the Brakhage Center Symposium (March 14-15). From regional premieres and climate-minded documentaries at the Boulder International Film Festival (March 5-8) to the always-popular and equally international Boulder Jewish Film Festival (March 4-15).
And the eighth Boulder Jewish Film Festival (BJFF) kicks off with a celebration of a hometown hero: Dave Grusin. Born June 26, 1934, in Littleton, Colorado, Grusin studied music at CU-Boulder, graduating in 1956 before heading off to Hollywood and an award-winning career as composer and songwriter. His most notable contribution will probably always be his work on 1967’s The Graduate, but it was his score for 1988’s The Milagro Beanfield that finally netted him an Oscar.
Grusin has always had a close connection with Boulder — including appearances at the Conference on World Affairs, notably as a dueling pianist against brother Don Grusin — so it’s only fitting BJFF kicks off March 4 with Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time, a loving documentary directed by Barbara Bentree, herself an alumna of CU-Boulder’s College of Music. Bentree will be in person for the opening night festivities.
Both BJFF screenings of Not Enough Time are currently sold out (check thedairy.org should additional seats open or shows added), but, considering the close ties between Bentree and Grusin to the city, there will be plenty of opportunities to catch the doc in the future.
That’s not necessarily the case with the rest of BJFF’s slate. For many of the movies screened, BJFF is the only time audiences will have a chance to see them on the theater screen, if at all.
Not sure where to start? Try something humorous: BJFF offers several options. Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive won Best Film at the 2019 Jerusalem Film Festival for writer/director/actor Yossi Atia’s light-hearted look at the effects of daily trauma on the Israeli psyche. Also in the comedy vein: Holy Lands stars James Caan as Harry, a grumpy old man who decides to retire to Israel and start a pig farm.
Like many of the films playing BJFF, the above are concerned primarily with Jewish identity. As is The Spy Behind Home Plate — the almost unbelievable story of Moe Berg, a major league catcher during baseball’s Golden Age (the 1920s and ’30s) who was an OSS spy during World War II, and helped undermine Germany’s efforts to develop and build an atomic bomb. (Should the documentary pique your interest, Paul Rudd played Berg in the 2018 drama, The Catcher Was a Spy.)
More than 15 features and two short film packages will screen at this year’s BJFF, all of them at Dairy Arts Center. Like previous BJFFs, there will be conversations, talkbacks and various receptions throughout the festival. And, like previous BJFFs, screenings will sell out fast. For a full schedule, tickets and information, visit thedairy.org.
ON THE BILL: Boulder Jewish Film Festival. March 4-15, Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., 303-444-7328.