'Commie Camp' premieres at Jewish Film Fest in Santa Fe

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Documentary > Begins 4 p.m. Sunday at the CCA. For tickets visit SantaFeJFF.org.

“Commie Camp,” a documentary about a children’s camp that Rush Limbaugh describes as “an extremist communist indoctrination center,” will kick off the 2014 Summer Season of the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival. Camp Kinderland alum and comedian Katie Halper, decided there was just one way to get to the bottom of the allegations: go back to camp.
The festival begins 4 p.m. Sunday at CCA Cinematheque in Santa Fe. Camp treats, including S’mores will follow the film.
For one summer Halper followed four nine-year-olds as they experienced Camp Kinderland. They muddle through Yiddish lessons, compete in the World Peace Olympics (Kinderland’s answer to the color war), stage a protest against police brutality, and explore an in-camp exhibit on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the resulting documentary, “Commie Camp,” Halper explores the history of Kinderland, which was founded in 1923 by Jewish activists as a refuge for their children from the tenements of NYC, her family’s very personal connection to the camp, and the way that the camp inspires social justice activism in its campers and alumni. What campers, parents, and alumni love about it is that it doesn’t teach any political ideology, but extols universal values. “sharing, justice, fairness, compassion, and caring about other peoples no matter their background,” Halper said.
The summer season will continue with four more films.
“The Green Prince” is such an extraordinary story that one is tempted to think it is fiction, if only somebody had the audacity to invent it. This acclaimed documentary is the story of the son of one of the founders of Hamas who agrees to spy for Israel’s secret service, the Shin Bet. It is as gripping as any high-concept Hollywood thriller and as psychologically knotty as Greek tragedy. The showing will be 7 p.m. June 29 at the CCA.
The SFJFF presents the North American Sephardic Festival running July 29-Aug. 3 has two films: “Tinghir-Jerusalem: Echoes of the Mellah” and “El Gusto.”
“Tinghir Jerusalem: Echoes of the Mellah” is a documentary about the Berber Jews of Morocco. Moroccan-born Muslim filmmaker Kamal Hachkar explores the 2,000-year-old mellah (Jewish quarter) in his family’s village of Tinghir, Morocco, and follows the trail of the town’s once substantial Jewish population to its émigrés and descendants in Israel.
“El Gusto” is referred to as an Algerian “Buena Vista Social Club.” In Algeria before independence, chaabi (literally “popular”) became the signature populist musical genre that speaks from the heart of a people and expresses national passion, pride and longing.