The American Sephardi Federation’s New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival (NYSJFF) honored iconic fashion designer Elie Tahari, as well as filmmaker Keren Yedaya, with Pomegranate Awards for Sephardi Excellence in the Arts, each sculpted by internationally acclaimed, Baghdad-born artist Oded Halahmy, at the Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th St., New York, NY 10011).
On Opening Night (February 23rd at 6pm), Elie Tahari received the Pomegranate Lifetime Achievement Award for Fashion Designer and filmmaker Keren Yedaya (winner of the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival) received the Pomegranate Award for Director. The evening featured the New York première of her film RED FIELDS, starring Sephardi-Israeli stars Neta Elkayam and Dudu Tassa, followed by a Moroccan After Party.
ASF’s President David E.R Dangoor introduced Elie Tahari and praised his path from immigrant to icon and noted the ubiquity of Tahari’s high-end fashion designs at the best stores. Israel’s Consul General at New York Dani Dayan said “Tahari represents the Israeli spirit,” which is “encapsulated by ingenuity, innovation… and…entrepreneurship.” ASF Young Leaders President Lauren Gibli and ASF Executive Director Jason Guberman joined in presenting the award. In his acceptance speech, Tahari thanked the American Sephardi Federation, NYSJFF Producer David Serero, and said “I am honored & humbled to receive this Pomegranate Award. I love you all.”
Moroccan-Sephardi opera star David Serero and 2nd generation Israeli singing-sensation Meshi Kleinstein surprised Tahari with a special medley of songs in his honor: Serero sang “Jerusalem of Gold” (in reference to Tahari’s birthplace), Meshi followed with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and then together they serenaded Tahari with a rousing rendition of “Tonight” from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.
In her acceptance speech, Israeli filmmaker Keren Yedaya spoke about “the unbelievable connection I have to this festival without ever being here. So be ready because it is quite amazing.” Indeed, Yedaya was a friend of the late, great ASF Pomegranate Award honoree Ronit Elkabetz, A”H and Vicky Shirans, A”H (whose husband Haim Shiranas was a founder of the NYSJFF), and Neta Elkayam, who performed at the Opening of the 20th NYSJFF, stars in her new movie.
Ambassador Adama Dieng, United Nations Under-Secretary-General & Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, members of the Grammy-nominated Innov Ganawa, ASF Pomegranate Award honorees Elie Chouraqui and Dan Hedaya, as well as Academy Award-winning actress Rachel Weisz were amongst the dignitaries in attendance.
This 23rd edition of the NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival delivers an action-packed program of 19 films. Showcasing 11 première films, including two world premières (THE WOLF OF BAGHDAD and THE HUG OF DESTINY). The NYSJFF specializes in bringing to NY audiences compelling, Greater Sephardi narratives and documentaries, comedies and critical perspectives that celebrate the beauty, diversity, and vitality of the Jewish experience. 10 filmmakers will be joining the NYSJFF for post-screening Q&As and several stars will be honored with the Pomegranate Award for Sephardi Excellence in the Arts. The Pomegranate Awards are hand-sculpted by world-renowned, Baghdad-born artist Oded Halahmy of the Pomegranate Gallery in Soho and Jaffa. The Festival’s Artistic Director, Sara Nodjoumi produced REGGAE BOYZ (Audience Award, Brooklyn Film Festival 2019), WHEN GOD SLEEPS (PBS 2018, Passion for Freedom Gold Award Winner, 2018) and THE IRAN JOB (Shortlisted German Academy Award, 2014) and is a programming alumna of the Tribeca Film Festival.
The complete list of selected NYSJFF films with dates, times, pass and ticket information can be found at www.nysephardifilmfestival.org
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