Maine Jewish Film Festival Marks 25th Anniversary

  • October 12, 2023


[Portland, Maine] The Maine Jewish Film Festival (MJFF) will kick off its 25th anniversary on November 4th with a celebration and screening at the Portland Museum of Art, featuring the bittersweet Israeli comedy, Karaoke, followed by a party in the Museum's Great Hall. Over the next eight days, the festival will host multiple screenings of over a dozen films from eight countries and four continents in Portland, Bangor, Waterville, Lewiston, Brunswick, and Bethel.

The festival got its start in 1995 with a single film shown as part of an arts festival in the basement of South Portland's Congregation Bet Ha'am. The following year, more films were added, and more audience showed up. By 1998, when the popular series had outgrown its original venue, Steve and Judy Halpert, owners of The Movies on Exchange Street, offered their theater for an entire week of screenings. Lines snaked around the corner, attendance topped 1300, and the series acquired a new name: The Maine Jewish Film Festival.

Three years later—now too large to be managed by synagogue volunteers—the festival became an independent entity. Today, MJFF remains one of a handful of independent Jewish film festivals in the United States.

With the support of foundations, local business sponsors, individual donors and filmgoers, the festival has built an enthusiastic following in greater Portland, also expanding its footprint across Maine. Partnering with Maine cultural and educational organizations, MJFF has brought meaningful programs into schools, museums, colleges, screening rooms and movie theaters statewide.

MJFF appeals to a broad audience by selecting films that explore universal themes through a lens of Jewish experience; and by welcoming a diverse audience into the conversation. An overarching goal of the festival has always been to promote tolerance and understanding.

MJFF's six-city November festival, will also present The Art of Silence, a piercing look into the art and life of mime Marcel Marceau; Rabbi on the Block, about charismatic African-American rabbi Tamar Manasseh, who takes her message into the streets of Chicago's South Side; Valeria is Getting Married, a drama about a young woman arriving in Israel as a mail-order bride; and I Am Not, a journey of self-discovery through the eyes of a bright but troubled neurodivergent teen.

To view the schedule and purchase tickets visit: 

More information can be found online at:

Media Contact:

Carolyn Swartz, Executive Director

Maine Jewish Film Festival

M: 917.714.5743

W: 207.831.7495


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Carolyn Swartz, Executive Director

P.O. Box 7465
Portland  ME  04112