AJC exclusive: Atlanta Jewish Film Festival reveals 2015 highlights

“24 Days,” a docudrama about an anti-Semitic hate crime, will be given a special “Gen-Y Night” screening during the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. CONTRIBUTED BY AJFF

As highlights of the 15th annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival are announced Thursday, executive director Kenny Blank boasts battle-tested confidence that his staff and army of volunteers can handle just about anything.

“Anything” is a kind description for the abominable winter-weather challenges its 14th edition endured: the Snowpocalypse that shut down metro Atlanta last January as well as a subsequent snow event, causing the fest’s opening night gala and 17 other screenings to be postponed. After some hasty schedule reshuffling, all the shows went on and the fest still managed to draw 31,000.

“We have it on word from a higher authority that they’re going to take care of the weather this year,” Blank joked in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The last one was quite a juggle.”

Still, Atlanta’s largest film festival and the country’s second-largest Jewish film festival (after San Francisco’s) will be as ambitious as ever in 2015, scheduling 165 screenings of 60 films representing 23 countries over 23 days, Jan. 28-Feb. 19.

“Above and Beyond,” a documentary about American and other foreign pilots who came to Israel’s aid during its War of Independence, will be the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival’s opening night feature. CONTRIBUTED BY AJFF

“Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force,” an American-made documentary about American and other foreign pilots who took to the skies in support of that nation’s War of Independence, will command the prestige opening night slot Jan. 28 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Producer Nancy Spielberg, the youngest of Steven Spielberg’s three sisters, will be featured in a post-screening Q&A.

The full lineup is expected to post online late morning on Dec. 19 at www.ajff.org, with tickets for sale on that site starting Jan. 11. Other highlights include:

The 2015 AJFF has added a recently opened showplace, Regal Cinemas Avalon 12 in Alpharetta, to its regular list of venues scattered across Midtown and the northern metro area.

For the first time, the AJFF is leaving open slots on its schedule, on Feb. 18 and 19, for encore screenings of films where four or five showings were not enough to satisfy demand.

The family-friendly French feature “Belle and Sebastien” will be screened (in dubbed English) as a part of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. CONTRIBUTED BY AJFF

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