Miami Jewish Film Festival returns

Emilia Haus, Multimedia Photo Editor

From Jan. 12-26, America’s largest Jewish Film Festival returned to Miami (MJFF). Founded in 1996, the festival continues to be a center of cultural arts in the city. The festival has ranked among the top 50 film festivals in the world for two years in a row. 

MJFF has seen an exponential increase in participation from 4,000 audience members in 2013, to over 60,000 in 2022. This year, the festival will screen 88 feature films and 17 short films in seven different venues in the greater Miami area.

Joan Schaeffer, a board member, has volunteered with the MJFF for numerous years. She advises staff in an advisory capacity and raises funds for the festival. Over the years, she has served as a witness to the flourishing success of the festival.

“It was once a very small, kind of nice activity, and now it is huge. And it brings people from around the world to speak and to watch; it just has grown phenomenally, it is because it is so good,” Schaeffer said.

The festival is largely community oriented. With community support, volunteers and dedicated followers of the event, it has found its own niche. The festival also promotes Jewish pride and representation.

“We are blessed that we have such a wonderful staff. And I think the success of any project is dependent upon the creation of a community and, I mean, you see in the newspapers, like, hundreds of people go to each event, and it is just, it is just wonderful, really wonderful…” Schaeffer said

The MJFF showcases Jewish talents from all around the world by presenting movies from over 35 countries in the past 10 years. Now, the festival will further push this international perspective by incorporating musical acts, including an acoustic session for “This Is National Wake,” a documentary based on South African Apartheid. 

“All opinions are represented and I think that is a good thing,” Schaeffer said.

For the future, the festival seeks to continue its expansion, intending on spreading to more locations and facilitating access in the future. Either way, the festival serves as a unique experience in Miami.

“My favorite thing is just attending the movies and seeing such a wide variety of people in attendance, and of course, it’s nice to see people you know and it just feels very heartwarming,” Schaeffer said.