Jewish Film Festival May 16 and 23 at Rodeo Cinema on Exchange Avenue in Stockyards City

The Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City will host a film festival at 7 p.m. on the evenings of May 16 and 23. The venue will be held at the Rodeo Cinema Stockyards.

A total of three award-winning films will explore Jewish culture, community and accomplishment, the sponsors say.

The events are underwritten by Chip Oppenheim.

The evening of May 16, the feature is “Cinema Sabaya,” the work of director Orit Fouks Romen.

With a run-time of one hour and 31 minutes, the film is not rated.

According to organizers, the story is told of “Eight women, Arab and Jewish” who “take part in a video workshop hosted by Rona, a young filmmaker who teaches them to document their lives. As each student shares footage from her home life with the others, their beliefs and preconceptions are challenged, and barriers are brokwn down.”

Concerning “Cinema Sabaya,” Beatrice Loayza of the New York Times, wrote: “The film’s director, Orit Fouks Rotem, was inspired by her mother’s participation in a similar course; she went on to organize sessions for other women, which — along with testimonies from the actors — inform her fictional rendition.”

The film will be followed by a presentation from Dr. Hadas Cohen, assistant professor at the OU Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies.

On May 23, a double-feature with a total running time of 82 minutes will be offered.

First is the 2011 feature film “Mission of Hope (Space Shuttle Columbia),” by director Daniel Cohen. It is described as “A journey of the human spirit, the film chronicles the path of an artifact from the depths of the Holocaust, to the heights of space, as it is carried to orbit aboard the space shuttle Columbia. The story weaves the lives of three men who were born in different times in history, but whose stories are brought together by a twist of fate.”

The second film on the evening of May 23 will be “The Space Torah Project,” by Director Rob Cooper. This relates to the tale of “NASA astronaut Dr. Jeff Hoffman,” who, in 1996, “brought a small Torah scroll on board Space Shuttle Columbia.”

On the Shabbat (Sabbath), “while orbiting Earth, he read from the book of Genesis, ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This is a story about inspiration, communities, and a man’s journey. A story of how family, educators, scientific and religious communities achieve great things and bring out identity to new realms.

According to the films website,

“Dr. Jeff Hoffman became a NASA Astronaut in 1978. He participated in five space missions, becoming the first astronaut to log 1,000 hours of flights aboard the space shuttle. Dr. Hoffman has performed four spacewalks, including the first unplanned, contingency spacewalk in NASA’s history and the initial repair/ rescue mission for the Hubble Space Telescope. He was the first Jewish American male astronaut to fly into space.

Over five space missions, he chose to bring numerous Jewish objects, the highlight was a small and light Torah scroll that he took with him on his fifth and last mission. Rabbi Shaul Osadchey, Jeff’s spiritual leader, was instrumental in making it possible for Jeff to take a Torah scroll (the Space Torah) into space. Jeff saw the act of bringing religious objects into space as part of bringing his own tradition with him, but bringing the Torah into space had the added symbolic meaning and significance of bringing the holiness of human life into space.”

The evening will conclude with Rachel Raz, founder of the Space Torah Project and Executive Producer of the Space Torah documentary.

These two films appeared earlier this year (in March) at Tulsa’s Jewish Film Festival. For May 23 tickets, visit here: