VIDEO – One of the world’s oldest and largest Jewish film festivals returned to Washington DC last month.
The Washington Jewish Film Festival showcases films from around the world, this year with 55 films from 15 different countries. The idea is to promote and preserve Jewish culture and tradition, while also bringing it to a wider global audience, helped in part by this year's special guest, actor Elliott Gould.
The actor has said before that he has a very deep Jewish identity. It is something that's naturally at the heart of all his films.
"I'm a Jew from the tips of my toes to what's left of my curls," Gould says.
He is amazed that hem or indeed any Jew, is in a position to make movies.
"How important is it for the Jews to endure, survive and continue to produce art and culture and come out? So how important is it? It's miraculous. It's a miracle that we're here and working and we're free."
For many, it was the 1970 Korean War satire mash that brought Gould to the public's attention.
From his humble beginnings in New York, where his father worked as a textiles buyer and his mother a flower seller, Gould says it often surprises him that his profession has made him in some ways an unofficial spokesman for Jewish affairs.
"I could never imagine that someone like me, Elliott Goldstein from 6801 Bay Parkway, Brooklyn 4, New York, PS247, the Sethler Junior High, the Professional Children's School and West Orange High School, could get to the front and participate and contribute – and I'm there."
Now in its 23rd year, the Washington Jewish Film Festival shows Jewish films and filmmaking from around the world, helping to spread Jewish culture throughout the nation's capital, and beyond.
The festival shows work from 15 different countries including Nigeria and Serbia.
Israeli films are of course well represented, with almost a third of this year's 55 movies coming from Israel.
They include "A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, a drama that looks at tensions between Israelis and Palestinians through a relationship between two teenagers, divided by long-standing hatreds.
There's also the 1944 propaganda film "The Fuhrer Gives a City to the Jews." Made by Joseph Goebbels in the former Czechoslovakia, it was intended to show the world how well treated the Jews were inside a ghetto concentration camp.
Documentary "Hava Nagila" explores the history of the traditional folk song from its composition to becoming perhaps the most famous Jewish song in the world. All these are appreciated by movie-goers who see this as a great opportunity for Jewish culture.
There is hope the festival may see another future appearance from Elliott Gould, who says he has no plans to stop doing what he loves.
"No, no, I have no plans to retire. You know I've said I don't think old, I think like a baby taking his first steps. I recently turned 74 and I have a friend who is 98, who plays tennis on Saturdays and Wednesdays and is still acting. So I have no plans to retire so long as I have my faculty."
The organizers of Washington's 23rd Jewish Film Festival hope this year's lineup will further promote Jewish films throughout America – opening them up to a larger audience, showing that Jewish film making in the 21st century can be funny, serious, dramatic, challenging and often complex, but above all enjoyable.