Around Town

Jewish film and music festival coming to Fairfax for first time next month

A three-decade-old Jewish film and music festival is coming to Fairfax for the first time next month.

The JxJ Festival, an arts festival set to run May 11 to May 21 dedicated to showcasing Jewish culture, is broadening its reach for the first time after years of being exclusively in D.C. venues.

That includes screening films at Cinema Arts at 9650 Main Street inside Fair City Mall in Fairfax City.

Artistic Director Yael Luttwak told FFXnow that the festival wanted to include a Northern Virginia venue in its lineup this year because the area has the D.C. region’s largest Jewish population. And the long history of Cinema Arts as a community movie theater fits perfectly into the festival’s ethos.

“We chose Cinema Arts because it’s a fantastic arts movie theater and it felt like the right home to share these exceptional art house films and more mainstream films that you can’t see anywhere else,” she said.

Seven films will play at the theater starting on May 18 and through May 21, including a mix of narrative features and documentaries:

Several of these films, including “Kosher Rehab,” will only play at Cinema Arts, Luttwak said. The documentary tells the story of young religious men struggling with addiction in Israel.

“Kosher Rehab is about recovery and there is actually a lot of recovery centers and places in Fairfax. So, I thoughtfully put that there,” she said. “In this case, it’s about ultra-Orthodox Jews who are former addicts living together in a house. It’s gritty and brilliant, and [we] hope that it would also help some people.”

The Washington Jewish Film Festival was first established in 1990, while the Washington Jewish Music Festival began in 1999. In 2019, the two area arts festivals became one as the JxJ Festival.

Festival highlights this year include the mid-Atlantic premiere of director Jake Paltrow’s “June Zero“, Israel’s box office hit “Matchmaking,” and the documentary “Closed Circuit” with a conversation afterward moderated by CNN’s Dana Bash.

Luttwak said all of the performances and films over the 10-day-long festival starting next month are connected in the way they help tell the story of Jewish culture.

“I think the connective tissue is not Judaism, per se. That’s complicated because [Judaism] means a lot of different things to lots of different folks. It’s Jewish culture,” she said. “Culture is the soul of who we are and our storytelling is the soul of who we are. And these stories have an incredible ability and impact to educate, inspire, and enlighten.”