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Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema

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The festival continues this weekend with screenings October 26 through 28 at the Wilmette, 1122 Central, Wilmette. Some highlights follow, all in subtitled Hebrew and other languages. For more information call 847-675-3378 or visit chicagofestivalofisraelicinema.org.

Aviva My Love (107 min.) picked up six awards at Israel's Oscars, including best picture, best actress (Assi Levy), and best director (Shemi Zarhin, who also did Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi). Levy stars as a part-time cook who longs to be a writer, and Sasson Gabai, in a surprisingly sympathetic performance, is the blocked Tel Aviv author who first mentors her and then publishes her work as his own (Sat 10/27, 7:30 PM). In Itai Lev's Little Heroes (73 min.) a young judo champ helps a Russian girl and her developmentally disabled brother locate the remote site of a car accident, but the kids have to dodge hostile kibbutznik brats and shells from nearby maneuvers of the Israeli Defense Forces. The movie offers family-friendly messages and a charming young cast, but for a children's adventure it has a disturbingly high violence quotient (Sun 10/28, 3:30 PM).

Iris Rubin's intriguing documentary Rakasa (73 min.) profiles three belly dancers (two Jews and a Palestinian), exploring the disconnect between the acclaim they receive for their performances and the disapproval they endure at home and in the community (Sun 10/28, 6:15 PM). By far the most entertaining and provocative movie screening this weekend is Dani Dotan and Dalia Meyerovich's 2005 TV documentary The Ashkenazim (53 min.), about Israelis of European descent coming to terms with not only the Holocaust but also the disdain of the ethnically dominant Sephardic sector. From promoting Yiddish to reclaiming traditional foods and customs, the attractive and articulate young interviewees are determined to celebrate European Jewry rather than merely enshrine their ancestors as Hitler's victims (Thu 10/25, 6:15 PM). --Andrea Gronvall

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