The Last Laugh and More Movies You Won’t Want to Miss

The Jewish Film Festival and Asian American Film Festival are both happening this week.
The Last Laugh, featuring Mel Brooks, is the centerpiece film of this year's Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival.

The Last Laugh, featuring Mel Brooks, is the centerpiece film of this year’s Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival.

Both the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival and the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival are going on this week and next, so we have some major movie-watching decisions to make.

The 36th annual Jewish film fest kicked off over the weekend and runs through November 19th, with 33 films from 12 countries. General admission tickets are $13 or you can buy a pass for multiple screenings. Students get in free.

This week’s spotlight film is By Sidney Lumet, a documentary about the director who made 12 Angry Men, Network and more than 40 other films during his long career; next week the spotlight is The Tenth Man out of Argentina, winner of two Tribeca Film Festival awards.

See the Philly premiere of The Freedom to Marry at the PJFF on November 14th.

See the Philly premiere of The Freedom to Marry at the PJFF on November 14th.

But if you have to pick just one, it should be The Last Laugh, a spotlight selection of the Tribeca Film Festival. Directed by Ferne Pearlstein, who grew up just outside Philly and is making her local film fest debut, the documentary explores what is off-limits in comedy — specifically, whether you can make jokes about the Holocaust. It features clips from performances, films and interviews with comedians like Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers and Sarah Silverman, paired with a portrait of Auschwitz survivor Renee Firestone and archival footage of cabarets in concentration camps. Pearlstein will join a panel discussion after the screening, which is on Saturday, November 12th.

The full Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival lineup is here.

The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival opens with The Tiger Hunter.

The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival opens with The Tiger Hunter.

The ninth annual Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival opens tomorrow night, Thursday, November 10th, with a screening of The Tiger Hunter, starring Danny Pudi from Community, and a post-film Q&A with Pudi and director Lena Khan. There will also be an opening night reception.

The fest features more than 70 films, plus an academic conference about Asian Americans in the media, free theater performances, and culinary exhibitions through PAAFF Eats. General admission tickets are $8 and an all-access pass is $100 ($80 for students and seniors).

The centerpiece film is Tyrus, about 105-year-old Chinese-American artist Tyrus Wong, who worked on Disney’s Bambi, among other achievements. It’s being shown on Sunday, November 13th, at International House. There’s also a free sci-fi, horror, and action shorts late-night program, on Friday, November 11th, and free LGBTQ short films on Saturday, November 12th.

The PAAFF closes November 20th with the standout documentary Mele Murals, about young Hawaiians reclaiming their indigenous culture through street art. Hawaiian graffiti artist Prime and film director Tad Nakamura will be at a post-screening Q&A and live mural painting, followed by a closing night reception catered by Poi Dog.

The full schedule of films and related events is here.

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