Chess Records co-founder Philip Chess is the unofficial king of
opening night at this year’s Tucson International Jewish Film
Festival, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Chess and his older brother, Leonard, were Polish-born
immigrants who started Chess Records in 1950. The label represented
the likes of Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Etta
The festival launches tonight with a screening of the 2008 film
“Who Do You Love,” which tells the story of the label that was
synonymous with classic blues and early rock ‘n’ roll. Philip
Chess, who retired to Tucson in 1972, and his wife, Sheva, will
take questions following the screening.
Leonard died in 1969 after the brothers sold the label, which
stopped publishing records in 1975.
“Who Do You Love” – the title comes from the famed Diddley ditty
– focuses on the brothers and how they left the family scrap
business to build a music empire.
The film “Cadillac Records,” also released in 2008, had a cast
that included BeyoncÃ© Knowles and told the Chess Records story as
well, but left Philip out of the story.
Efforts to reach Philip for comment through film festival
officials were unsuccessful.
Festival co-chair Bob Nichol said landing “Who Do You Love,” and
especially the appearance by Chess, is a coup. “The movie has
really good music in it,” he said.
Tucson International Jewish Film Festival
Unless otherwise noted, all screenings are at the Tucson Jewish
Community Center auditorium, which has a new screen and
â€¢ 7 p.m. : “Who Do You Love” at the Loft Cinema, 3233 E.
Speedway. Polish immigrants start Chess Records in Chicago. Philip
Chess and his wife, Sheva, will take part in a QA.
â€¢Â 1:30 p.m. Friday: “Cinema’s Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood,”
a look at Jewish filmmakers, actors and composers who fled Europe
in the 1930s and ’40s to head to Hollywood.
â€¢Â 7 p.m.: “Within the Whirlwind,” a Russian Jewish poet is
forced to live in a Soviet Gulag camp.
â€¢ 1 p.m. : “Breath Made Visible,” the story of dance pioneer
Anna Halprin, who will attend.
â€¢ 3:30 p.m.: “Berlin ’36,” Americans threaten an Olympic boycott
in the 1936 Berlin games because the German team refuses to accept
Jewish athletes. German with subtitles.
â€¢ 7 p.m.: “Nora’s Will,” a dark comedy about a Mexican Jewish
woman contemplating suicide. Spanish with subtitles.
â€¢ 1:30 p.m.: “Hidden Children,” tells the story of Jewish boys
who hide from the Nazis in a French Catholic orphanage. French with
â€¢Â 7 p.m.: “Anita,” a Jewish woman with Down syndrome in
Argentina wanders aimlessly after a bomb goes off. Spanish with
subtitles. Accompanied by “I’m Ready,” about a Down syndrome son
and his elderly father struggle to communicate. In Hebrew with
â€¢ 1:30 p.m. “Canvasman: The Robbie Ellis Story,” profiles an art
collector who was also a pro wrestler. Accompanied by “Mendelssohn,
the Nazis, and Me,” the story of the great composer whose music was
banned by Nazis.
â€¢ 7 p.m. “Jaffa,” a Jewish woman and Palestinian man plan to
marry, setting off tragedy. Hebrew with subtitles.
â€¢Â 1:30 p.m.: “Bride Flight,” the story of three Dutch women who
flee post-war Holland for New Zealand. Dutch with subtitles.
â€¢Â 7 p.m: “The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground.” Director Erik
Greenberg Anjou will appear at the screening of his music
documentary about the titular Jewish band. English/Yiddish with
â€¢ 1:30 p.m.: “Brothers,” Jewish brothers reunite in Israel after
years of estrangement. Hebrew with subtitles.
â€¢ 7 p.m.: “Holy Rollers,” Hasidic New Yorkers become drug
â€¢ 1:30 p.m.: “Where I Stand: The Hank Greenspun Story,” a
journalist stands up for his beliefs, smuggling guns to Israel and
standing up against McCarthyism and the mob.
â€¢ 7 p.m.: “Haber,” the tale of Fritz Haber, a Jewish man who
converted to Christianity and developed chemical weapons for
Germany. Accompanied by “Saviors In The Night,” about a Jewish
family that takes refuge during World War II. In German/
French/English with subtitles.
1 p.m. at Crossroads, 4811 E. Grant Road: “Tell Them Anything
You Want,” a documentary about author Maurice Sendak, who penned
“Where the Wild Things Are.” Accompanied by “Walk on Water,” an
Israeli agent is sent to kill an aging Nazi but befriends his
grandchildren. English/Hebrew/German with subtitles.
3:30 p.m.: “Gay Days,” a documentary about the emergence of gays
and lesbians living openly in Israel. Hebrew with subtitles.
IF YOU GO
â€¢ What: Tucson International Jewish Film Festival, celebrating
the Jewish experience, with most films made by Jewish filmmakers or
on Jewish subjects and topics. The films come from all over the
world, but there are no locally made movies this year. Screenings
on Jan. 30, at the Crossroads, focus on lesbian and gay themes. The
festival includes a guest appearance by dance innovator Anna
Halprin at the screening of the documentary about her, “Breath Made
â€¢ When: Today through Jan. 30.
â€¢ Where: Most screenings are at the Jewish Community Center,
3800 E. River Road. The opening night film “Who Do You Love?” is at
7 p.m. at the Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway.
â€¢ Tickets: $8 per screening. $85 festival pass.
â€¢ Bonus: Anna Halprin, now 90, will hold a dance workshop from 9
a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Make reservations at 299-3000, Ext.