The Hippo


Apr 18, 2019








One culture, many themes
Jewish film fest director welcomes all


The Jewish Federation of New Hampshire ( is hosting its second annual Jewish Film Festival with eight films, highlighted by Bloodlines. Jeff Fladen, executive director of the Federation, said Bloodlines and the festival should have broad appeal. Fladen, a Bedford resident, began his career as a social worker before entering the Jewish Communal Service.

Q:What’s the film [Bloodlines] about?

Well, we have the grandniece of Herman Goering, a major Nazi. She is so upset about the violence that they did, that she and her brother had themselves sterilized so as not to spawn evil. Then she goes through a lot of personal exploration to try and ... become at peace with herself. Bettina Goering, the grandniece of Herman Goering — he was one of Hitler’s major leaders. ... She becomes aware of this painter in Australia who is a Holocaust survivor. They meet and the film is about their encounters.

What’s the significance of the film?

... The artist, Ruth Rich, she is a daughter of Holocaust survivors. Bettina viewed her online exhibit and she travels to meet her. We see a portrayal at the beginning of the film of dark paintings, but as the film goes on, [the paintings] become more vibrant as the two women go through their journey of forgiveness and understanding. ...

Why should people, perhaps those who are not Jewish, go see this film?

Anybody who feels they’ve been in the victim role, they may learn some ways to address the scars that occur. If we become a victim and live through the events and still have our lives available.... People take different paths after being a victim that impacts their lives going forward and then they gain some insights about the additional possibilities throughout the film.

What is the film festival itself all about?

We have eight films that are showing in four locations on six nights. We have a committee that has been led by our chair, Roberta Brayer. They reviewed numerous films from all over the world to give a broad variety of different views on Jewish themes in the Jewish world.

What are you hoping comes of  it?

Our goal is to share the Jewish culture with our own community and with the broader community.

[The Federation, among other things, works to revitalize Jewish life in New Hampshire.] What types of things are you doing to do that?

Just like any Christian religion, we have Jewish people who have moved to New Hampshire but are not connected in any way with organized religion. We hope to reach — we use the term “unaffiliated” — the unaffiliated Jews and create opportunities for them to become part of the larger Jewish community. I would take it further; being Jewish is not just about celebrating holidays or going to synagogue. It’s also about connecting with other Jewish people. We are also interested, like the Greek festival which has been so successful, in sharing our culture with the broader community. So the movies are not just for Jewish people. Also we’re celebrating Israel’s Independence Day May 9 and there’ll be Jewish food, dancing, music and arts. Both the Jewish Independence Day and the film festival have major goals of sharing our culture with the larger community. [The Independence Day celebration will take place May 9 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Federation, 698 Beech St. in Manchester.]

Why should people come check out the film festival?

Anybody that loved My Big Fat Greek Wedding will love this film festival. Our festival portrays people, places and culture that may be unfamiliar but that evoke universal themes. Our opening night film is The Beetle, which is about a man’s love for his vintage Volkswagen. A Matter of Five is about ordinary people struggling with obesity who transformed themselves into Sumo wrestlers. The film Strangers is about the love between two people that come from very different backgrounds, in this case Palestinian and Israeli. We believe the audience would be educated as well as entertained.

Is there anything new or any changes to this year’s festival?

Nashua is a new city for us. Last year it was just in Manchester and Concord, and so this year we expanded to Chunky’s Cinema Pub in Nashua. That’s new.

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