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2017 High Falls Film Festival

“Best of Fests” Returns for Second Year

Posted April 14th, 2016 by Kate Herrmann in Uncategorized

Best_of_the_Fests 2016

Three-day “Best of the Fests” returns for second year — presenting the favorite

films from High Falls, ImageOut, and Rochester Jewish film festivals April 27-29

Rochester, N.Y. – A collaborative event titled “Best of the Fests” celebrates three of Rochester’s largest film festivals, sharing the “best” movies with a broader film-loving audience. The film festivals are High Falls Film Festival, the JCC Ames Amzalak Rochester International Jewish Film Festival, and ImageOut LGBT Film Festival. “Best of the Fests” will run three nights at the Little Theatre Wednesday through Friday, April 27-29, with each festival showing two audience- favorite winning movies for a total of six screenings.

Collectively, these three festivals bring hundreds of films from around the globe to Rochester each year, to be screened for tens of thousands of audience members. High Falls Film Festival, which celebrates women in film behind the camera and on screen, was established in 2001, the same year the Jewish Community Center launched its festival to present the best contemporary Jewish-themed films. ImageOut was founded in 1993 and today is New York state’s largest LGBT film festival (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender).

The schedule for the second annual “Best of the Fests”:

Wednesday, April 27

6 p.m.   Above and Beyond (Rochester International Jewish Film Festival)

8:30 p.m. The Guy With The Knife (ImageOut LBGT Film Festival)

Thursday, April 28

6 p.m. Yemeniettes (High Falls Film Festival)

8:30 p.m.   Dough (Rochester International Jewish Film Festival )

Friday, April 29

6 p.m. Akron (ImageOut LGBT Film Festival)

8:30 p.m. The Lennon Report (High Falls Film Festival)


Why is this collaboration important?

  • “This collaboration among our three festivals and the Little Theatre is a great platform to raise the profile of new, independent cinema in Rochester and to cross-pollinate our festival audiences,” said Paul Allen, ImageOut’s board chairman. “The festivals do the hard work of sifting through all the movies released each year and then bringing the very best to Rochester.”
  • “Rochester is the birthplace of film and it is part of our legacy to showcase diverse filmmaking from around the globe,” said Nora Brown, executive director of High Falls Film Festival and the Rochester/Finger Lakes film commissioner. “Rochester has a sophisticated film-going audience and collectively we bring them the best of the best.”
  • “Since each festival has a unique focus, this partnership is a wonderful opportunity for us to come together and showcase the fabulous films we all bring to the community,” said Lori M. Harter, director of Cultural Arts for the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester.


Best of the Fests 2016 screenings

Tickets are $8 general admission and $6.50 for JCC, ImageOut, and Little Theatre members. Tickets can be purchased in advance at or just prior to the screenings at the Little Theatre Box Office. The Little Theatre is located at 240 East Ave., Rochester.

Wednesday, April 27 at 6 p.m.

Above and Beyond

Rochester International Jewish Film Festival’s 2015 Audience Award

for Best Documentary

(Directed by Roberta Grossman, US 2014, 90 min.)

In 1948, group of WWll Jewish American pilots answered a call for help from the newfound Israel nation. In secret and at great personal risk, they smuggled planes out of the U.S., trained behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia and flew for Israel in its War of Independence. As members of Machal – “volunteers from abroad” – this ragtag band of brothers not only turned the tide of the war; they also embarked on personal journeys of discovery and renewed Jewish pride. Above and Beyond is their story.

Wednesday, April 27 at 8:30 p.m.

The Guy With The Knife

ImageOut LBGT Film Festival’s 2015 ImageOut Jury Award for Best Documentary

Feature and ImageOut Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature

(*The Best of Fests screening will feature a newly edited version with an updated ending.)

(Directed by Alison Armstrong, Canada 2015, 84 min.)

Eight years in the making, The Guy With The Knife takes its audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions set against the backdrop of gay rights, victims’ rights, and prisoners’ rights. Challenging preconceived notions, it’s a cautionary tale about rushing to judgment, as well as an indictment of the harsh Texas criminal justice system. Paul Broussard was murdered in 1991 by a group of young men from a middle-class Houston suburb. Due to the sensational media coverage of this apparent hate crime, the “Woodlands 10” as they became known, soon turned themselves in and signed statements saying they’d gone to Houston looking for gay men to harass and beat up. Their guilty pleas meant there was no trial, and the court handed down harsh sentences. Ray Hill, a longtime activist in Houston’s LGBT community, spearheaded the effort to get media attention. But appearances can often be deceiving and facts of the case weren’t as clear-cut as they seemed.

Thursday, April 28. at 6 p.m.


High Falls Film Festival’s 2015 Audience Award for Best Documentary

(Directed by Shawn Thompson, US 2013, 61 min.)

This uplifting documentary helps give us hope that young Muslim girls might just have a chance for a better future. Three Yemeni teenage girls enter a youth Middle Eastern entrepreneurial competition, with their innovative solar-panel powered devices, designed to compensate for the frequent electrical grid outages in their country. Luckily, their unusually open-minded parents “support” the girls’ ambitions, despite community pressure not to allow their daughters to pursue non-traditional female vocations. Along the way, the girls encounter the hardships of a country scarred by a broken educational system, joblessness, and a threatening Al-Qaeda presence.

Thursday, April 28 at 8:30 p.m.


Rochester International Jewish Film Festival’s 2015 Audience Award

for Best Narrative Feature

(Directed by John Goldschmidt, UK 2014, 95 min.)

Curmudgeonly widower Nat Dayan clings to his way of life as a Kosher bakery shop owner in London’s East End. Understaffed, Nat reluctantly hires a Muslim apprentice, teenager Ayyash, who has a secret side gig selling marijuana to help his immigrant mother make ends meet. When Ayyash accidentally drops his stash into the mixing dough, the challah starts flying off the shelves and an unlikely friendship forms between the old Jewish baker and his young Muslim apprentice. DOUGH is a warm hearted and humorous story about overcoming prejudice and finding redemption in unexpected places.

Friday, April 29 at 6 p.m.


ImageOut LGBT Film Festival’s 2015 Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature

(Directed and written Sasha King and Brian O’Donnell, Written by Brian O’Donnell)

Benny, a college freshman at the University of Akron, Ohio meets and falls for fellow freshman Christopher at a football game. With the support of their families and friends they embark on a new relationship. But a tragic event in the past involving their mothers soon comes to light and threatens to tear them apart. Akron is a moving family drama and a sensitive young adult love story of two young men falling in love in the Midwest and their will to overcome the most painful of truths.

Friday, April 29 at 8:30 p.m.

The Lennon Report

High Falls Film Festival’s 2015 Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature

(Directed by Jeremy Profe, US 2015, 87 min.)

This much-anticipated feature film shows audiences what they don’t know about the night John Lennon was killed. The events unfold as seen through the eyes of those who lived it — the good men and women of NYC who did all they could to save a life, some not even knowing it was John Lennon himself. For the first time in decades, the doctor and nurses break their silence about what really happened in the operating room. Based on a true story.