Linda Cooper screens about 100 movies every year preparing for the Sun Valley Jewish Film Festival.
And, every year, only a few make the cut.
The seventh annual iteration of the event kicks off next week, ticking a range of genres, nations and aspects of the Jewish experience. Sponsored by the Wood River Jewish Community, the free screenings start Monday, July 8, at the Sun Valley Community School theater. Here’s a look at what’s on the docket:
“Ask Dr. Ruth”
Monday, July 8 at 6 p.m.
Filmed on the eve of her 90th birthday, this documentary looks at the life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who survived the Holocaust to become America’s most famous sex therapist. For all her candor, Westheimer has avoided discussing the trauma of her early years—the separation from her parents, the orphanage in Switzerland, news of her family’s fate—until now.
“I changed my mind with this film,” she said in a May interview with NPR. “I … have to stand up to be counted.”
Beyond that, though, the film focuses on Dr. Ruth herself—her characteristic charm and wit, delivered, as always, with her unmistakable voice and tone. (1 hr. 40 min.)
“Promise at Dawn”
Wednesday, July 10 at 6 p.m.
Based on the autobiographical novel of the same name, “Promise at Dawn” chronicles the early life of French author Romain Gary from his youth in Eastern Europe through his time as a pilot in World War II.
It’s a fitting context for an epic drama, though the core of Gary’s source material spins on the strength of its central relationship between a mother and her son, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Pierre Niney. (2 hr. 10 min.)
Monday, July 15 at 6 p.m.
Another family story, this Israeli film focuses on an ailing, absentee father and his adult, special-needs son. It is, in its way, a coming-of-age story—one of a boy setting out to win his father’s love, years delayed.
“Set in Israel, the film has won many Audience Awards and will be sure to pull at your heartstrings,” festival organizers said. (1 hr. 38 min.)