Photo courtesy Kenny Blank

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) kicked off Wednesday and runs through Feb. 27.

Grab your popcorn and Twizzlers and make sure you check out the schedule for this year’s festival. With more than 50 feature-length and short films included in the lineup of virtual screenings, we asked the festival’s executive director Kenny Blank to highlight some of his must-see picks for 2022. Here are Blank’s Top ⑤ hidden gems that are not to be missed.

It’s highly unusual for the festival to include an animated feature, much less two! This year, directors Eric Warin and Tahir Rana’s “Charlotte” tells the tale of German expressionist painter Charlotte Salomon (voiced by Keira Knightley), who came of age amid Nazi Germany’s rise to power. Salomon left behind an elegant and profound body of work.

Florence Miailhe’s beautifully rendered film “The Crossing” demonstrates that the medium of animation isn’t just for telling children’s stories. This award-winning parable universalizes the refugee crisis of past and present.

Ryszard Brylski’s “Death of Zygielboym” is another festival film that reveals the urgent lessons of historical events. This North American premiere tells the story of an anti-fascist martyr who tried to stir the world’s conscience in the face of nazism, while warning of the dangers of turning a blind eye to global threats.

A scene from “Leon the Pig Farmer”

“Leon the Pig Farmer:” AJFF is all about discovery, and this British cult classic — unknown to most American audiences — is sure to win your heart with its offbeat, joyous tale of family dysfunction and search for identity. This 30th-anniversary screening of Vadim Jean and Gary Sinyor’s 1992 comedic tale follows a nice Jewish boy who finds out he’s the son of a Yorkshire pig farmer. How’s that for a non-kosher plotline?

Shorts: If you’re looking for more bite-sized entertainment, the festival offers three delightful short film collections, each featuring some of the most clever and creative filmmaking you’ll ever see. The stories may be compact — ranging from 40 to just a few minutes in length — but the emotion and impact conveyed is as profound as any feature film.

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