Sunday, December 6, 2009

Suicide Bomber Victim is Jewish Film Festival Speaker

One minute filmmaker and freelance journalist Jack Baxter was behind the camera, and the next second, thanks to a suicide bomber, he was in front of the lens. Some would say that Baxter was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but fate has a strange way of handing out destiny. The blast made Baxter a physical victim of random violence, but it also gave him the opportunity to focus his camera on the reality of senseless terrorism. Although severely injured, Baxter and his team lived to film the aftermath of the attack on the beach of Tel Aviv.

This is a story that must be told. “Blues By The Beach,” one of the premier selections of the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, will be shown on February 21 at Harkins Chandler Crossroads at 7 PM.  This film is an Arizona exclusive and has never been shown in the state.

In April, 2003, Jack Baxter traveled to Tel Aviv to film the international background and free spirit of the patrons who flocked to the bar Mike’s Place and to bask on the beach surrounded by vibrant, live blues. Jew, Arab, and European sat side by side, linked by their youth, sense of adventure, and love of music.

After midnight on April 30, a suicide bomber attempted to enter the bar but was pushed from the entrance by the security guard. The terrorist blew himself up, killing three people.  Severely injured, suddenly Baxter was on he other side of the camera as two of his team, Joshua Faudem and his girlfriend Pavla Fleischer, continued to film. Audiences will have the opportunity to hear it firsthand from guest speaker Jack Baxter, who is flying from New York City to the East Valley specifically for this film. The producer has reason to be proud. His film is the recipient of awards in the Hamptons, Fire Island, and Avignon-New York Film Festivals where it was voted Best Documentary.
Writes David Mamet: “This is a very, very important film. Terrorism is the directed, purposeful taking of innocent life for supposedly political purposes …To which fact this film bluntly and incontestably testifies.”

Echoing his sentiments, film selection committee chairman Nancy Stutman says, “Our mission is to spotlight films that would not normally be available to our audiences. This premiere screening  of “Blues By The Beach” by the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival is the only opportunity for our audiences to see this landmark movie.” Stutman and her committee spent more than eight months previewing scores of films before choosing the ten that appear in the 2010 Festival lineup. “The goal of our festival is for our ticket holders to experience unique one-of-a-kind cinematic events reflecting the culture and traditions of the Jewish people,” says Stutman.

If there is any quality that links the films in the 2010 roster, whether they are documentary, comedy, tragedy, it is the survival of the Jewish people for over five thousand years. Mike‘s Place has reopened and the security guard is out of the hospital and back on duty. “Blues By the Beach” resonates with recovery, perseverance, and hope. For more information, go to

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