Marsha Bornstein, executive director of the Jewish Film Festival | Photo by Bill Brymer

Now in its 19th year, the Louisville Jewish Film Festival is one of the longest-running film fests in town and has screened hundreds of films throughout the years. Sponsored by the Jewish Community Center, the event strives to showcase the Jewish experience through contemporary international films.

This year’s fest, which runs Feb. 4-26, is no different, offering 12 documentaries, shorts and feature films from six countries — Israel, the United States, France, Hungary, Canada and the Czech Republic. They’ll be screened at various locations, including the Congregation Adath Jeshurun, The Temple, Bellamrine and Speed Cinema, but most will be shown at Village 8 Theatres.

Marsha Bornstein has been the executive director of the Jewish Film Fest since 2005. She says one of the toughest parts of her job isn’t whittling down the number of submitted films from 40 to 12, but rather making sure each film appeals to a wide audience.

“Every year I see new faces at the festival, and that’s very important to us,” she says in a press release. “The mission of the Louisville Jewish Film Festival is to promote diversity, understanding and dialogue. There is a common thread throughout these films that … makes us realize we share the same human values and problems in life.”

Some of the major players and award-winners in this year’s fest are “Sabena Hijacking,” “The Kind Words,” “Disturbing the Peace,” and “The Women’s Balcony,” which was Israel’s highest grossing film in 2016.

Bernstein says she’s excited to share the films with Louisville. “I’m looking forward to seeing a diverse audience viewing these amazing films targeting all communities.”

Tickets are $8.50 in advance, or $10 at the door. A full lineup, including descriptions, is available online.

Insider caught up with Bornstein before the festival begins to ask her some very important questions …

What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?

I have always wanted to go on an African safari and stay in the wild. Since the flight is so long, I want to extend the trip to incorporate visits to other scenic sights and cities.

Buddy Holly

What poster was on your wall in junior high?

It would have been Buddy Holly, who I adored. My best friend, Sally Wax, and I stood on the sidewalk singing, and in order to pass “the toll road,” you had to listen to us sing his songs. On the day he died, we wore black arm bands to school and truly mourned his death.

I also liked Elvis, and when I was 12, my first date was to his concert at the Armory after Sunday School.

If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?

It would go to Michelle Obama because she is a fearless and respected leader in education for everyone. Our city must do better to improve our schools and provide more opportunities to attend preschool and college. Michelle recognizes that our good teachers need to be respected and supported in this honorable profession.

Only when our students are stimulated to take education seriously, will they be prepared to succeed in life following graduation. The vibrancy of our city depends on the success of our youth.

What are your preferred pizza toppings?

More cheese, please!

Actually, I am not a great lover of pizza, but I prefer mushrooms, onions and peppers. It is really the cheese I love the most.

If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?

Most people hated adolescence, but I actually was very happy with lots of friends and a good social life. School became more challenging, and I was a voracious reader and enjoyed learning. Strangely, my first job at JCC was working with middle school youth creating and implementing programs.

What famous person do people say you resemble the most?

After polling my friends with this question, I received answers that amazed me, because I could not see the connection. There was no consensus, but a few names were submitted and, not surprisingly, were celebrities in the news this month. Meryl Streep was mentioned because of her honesty, big heart, love of the arts, and courage to fight for her convictions. Too bad nobody thought I looked like her!

I was flattered to be compared to Dawne Gee because of her strength, work ethic and independence. She is compassionate and friendly to everyone. Dawne has faced such adversity and is always optimistic. I also see the glass half full but am no longer the Pollyanna I used to be.

I would be blessed to have half the traits of these two remarkable women, but isn’t it wonderful to have friends with rose-colored glasses? To quote one of my favorite celebrities, Judy Garland, I believe you should “always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

The elevator mechanic will save the day!

Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?

An elevator mechanic. If not that, an entertainer who could sing and tell stories to make the time pass and keep me calm. I am a lover of the arts and find my stress is reduced when I hear music, view films and theater, attend concerts and read. The arts enrich my life.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."