Film fans have three weekends to immerse themselves in Jewish culture starting Sunday in York Township.

The York Jewish Community Center is hosting its 12th annual Jewish Film Festival at Frank Theatres in the Queensgate Shopping Center for three Sundays, Oct. 14, 21 and 28.

“Although we are called a Jewish film festival and the films all have some connection to Jewish culture, the movies are appropriate for everyone and our audience reflects that,” says Linda Seligson, the JCC's festival coordinator.

The festival committee screened a large field of films, ultimately choosing three that showcase variety in languages and themes.

The picks are “excellent films that would not otherwise play in York,” Seligson says. “We try to offer at least one film focusing on Israel, another on the Holocaust, a documentary and a comedy — sometimes a single film answers more than one of those criteria.”

The festival's small size means the committee works to make each film count.

“Because we offer just three films, we select the best of the best,” Seligson says.

The films: Featured films this year are “A Bottle in the Gaza Sea” and “The Flat,” which both take place in Israel, as well as “The Day I Saw Your Heart,” which is a French comedy. All three films focus on Jewish families.

“A Bottle in the Gaza Sea” focuses on the situation in the Middle East and is in French with Hebrew and English subtitles. Seligson, who has viewed all three films, says “Bottle” “expresses the view that people, be they Jewish or Muslim, Israeli or Palestinian, are people who can and should respect one another and live in peace.”

“The Flat” has a twisted plot surrounding buried family secrets and friendships that defy explanation and is in English, Hebrew and German with English subtitles.

“The Day I Saw Your Heart,” a French film with English subtitles, portrays the complications of family life.

“It shows how families can be funny, sad, confusing and loving — sometimes in unconventional ways,” Seligson says.

Q&A: The festival will once again offer a question-and-answer session with a Jewish scholar after one of the films; this year it will take place after “The Flat.”

“Question-and-answers are always interesting,” Seligson says. “This year we are fortunate to have Dr. Jack Fischel speak at the theater.”

Fischel, a professor emeritus of history at Millersville University, is also a visiting professor of the humanities at Messiah College, where he teaches about the Holocaust, Seligson says. Fischel has written several books on the Holocaust and hundreds of articles and book reviews on subjects dealing with the history of the Jewish people.

The festival has grown over the years and has been known to sell out at the Queensgate theater.

“I'd like to think our reputation for offering quality films has grown over the years, as has our audience,” Seligson says.

Looking ahead: The festival committee is already looking ahead to next year.

“We screen lots of movies before finalizing our selection,” Seligson says. “I have over 100 new releases in my office now awaiting consideration, and we have our eye on several others that haven't yet been released for next year.”

Making the selections is sometimes a matter of going with one's gut.

“Somehow, when you watch the films, you just know what is going to click with the audience,” Seligson says.

“York's is one of the world's smallest Jewish film festivals,” she says. “But we like to think it is among the best.”

See the films

The 12th annual Jewish Film Festival kicks off Sunday at the Frank Theatres Queensgate Stadium 13, 2067 Springwood Road, York Township.

Tickets are available in advance from the York Jewish Community Center, 2000 Hollywood Drive, York Township, and in the hour before the film starts at the theater. The cost is $9 per film or $25 in advance for all three films.

All films start at 3 p.m. The festival schedule is as follows:

--Oct. 14: “A Bottle in the Gaza Sea”

--Oct. 21: “The Flat,” with a Q&A by guest speaker Jack Fischel afterward.

--Oct. 28: “The Day I Saw Your Heart”

For more information, call the JCC at 843-0918 or visit

— Reach Kyle Dunlap at