Dayton Jewish International Film Fest opens Thursday at Glass Center

Lineup includes comedies, dramas, documentaries.



The 24th annual Dayton Jewish International Film Festival opens Thursday, May 30 at the University of Dayton’s Roger Glass Center for the Arts and will continue through June 30 at The Neon in downtown Dayton.

Presented by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Dayton, the festival explores insightful themes of injustice, love, war, religion and family relationships. The films encompass comedies, dramas, thrillers, documentaries and more. New programming this year includes an animated feature (”An American Tail”) and a night of short films.

“The movies are about the Jewish experience,” said Elliot Ratzman, festival chairperson. “They’re about Jewish history and the Jewish condition.”

“The Catskills,” the opening night selection, is a documentary chronicling the rise and fall of the Borscht Belt and the powerful women who made it happen. “Stand-up comedians share their best shtick while former waiters, entertainers and dance instructors recount tales of the family-run resorts and bungalows,” according to press notes. The film’s commentary includes reflections from Dr. Jennifer Caplan, who grew up in Dayton.

Following the “The Catskills” screening, Ratzman will interview Caplan, Associate Professor and the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Chair in Judaic Studies at the University of Cincinnati. Her first book “Funny, You Don’t Look Funny: Judaism and Humor from the Silent Generation to Millennials,” and she is a co-editor of the forthcoming book “No Respect: Themes and Trends in Global Jewish Humors.” She is also working on “Unmasked: Jewish Characters in DC and Marvel,” which looks at the history and evolution of Jewish comic book characters.

“Jenny is our hometown, scholarly hero,” Ratzman said. “I will interview her about her work and how it relates to ‘The Catskills,’ in which she appeared as one of the talking heads.”



Ratzman also has served on the screening committee and has been an academic consultant for the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival. He acknowledges the Jewish population in Philadelphia is much larger than Dayton but said both festivals are comparable in many ways.

“The numbers are pretty comparable in attendance and enthusiasm,” he said. “We have fewer films in Dayton and we have our festival in June rather than November, but we punch above our weight class in terms of quality and quantity. I think that’s something Dayton should be proud of.”

Recognizing current international strife, Ratzman hopes the festival can provide a positive outlet for discussion and levity.

“We are in a time of war, a time in which the Jewish community in America is feeling very vulnerable, and I think it’s important that this film festival shows there is much more to Jewish culture and condition than questions surrounding Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians,” he said. “I think this festival celebrating other aspects, anxieties and concerns within the Jewish community might be an interesting respite from the insecurity and turbulence that’s been happening since October 7.”

Above all, organizers are confident the festival will help build connection within the Jewish community and the Miami Valley region as a whole.

“The Jewish community, right now, is looking for opportunities to come together. They need each other,” said Marc Jacob, executive director of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Dayton. “Our festival brings people together from all over Dayton, which is great.”


Thursday, May 30

7 p.m.

“The Catskills”

Tuesday, June 4

7:15 p.m.


Thursday, June 6

7:15 p.m.

“A Night of Short Films”



Monday, June 10

7:15 p.m.

“The Interpreter” (also available online June 10-11)

Sunday, June 16

7:15 p.m.

“All About the Levkoviches” (also available online June 16-18)

Tuesday, June 18

10 a.m.

“Remembering Gene Wilder”

Thursday, June 20

7:15 p.m.


Sunday, June 23

3 p.m.

“An American Tail”



Sunday, June 23

7:15 p.m.

“Kidnapped: The Abduction of Edgardo Mortara”

Tuesday, June 25

7:15 p.m.

“Less Than Kosher” (also available online June 25-27)

Thursday, June 27

7:15 p.m.

“Stella. A Life.”

Sunday, June 30

7:15 p.m.

“My Neighbor Adolf”


What: Dayton Jewish International Film Festival

When: May 30-June 30

Where: The Roger Glass Center for the Arts, 29 Creative Way, Dayton and The Neon, 130 E. Fifth St., Dayton

Cost: $18 for opening night (”The Catskills”) and $12 all other nights. Festival passes are $95 and can be used for either in-person or online films.

More info including film descriptions: Call 937-610-1555 or visit

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