I met E.T. last night.
More accurately, E.T. and I went for a bike ride across the night sky under a full moon.
Before you ask, nope, these aren’t the ramblings of an overzealous imagination, or perhaps an overdose of Reese’s Pieces. This is a true story of my moment with the extraterrestrial from Steven Spielberg’s 1982 cinematic classic.
And I have the folks at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival to thank for the experience.
Let me step back a moment and fold you into the experience a little better. After all, some of you might not be familiar with this festival. And you totally should be.
Founded in 2000, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) is an annual celebration of the storytelling and cinematic triumphs of Jewish films.
Just hearing the name, you might have the impression that these films are all about being Jewish, but that is not wholly accurate; as much as the festival shares stories about the Jewish culture and experience, there are also films screened that are simply stories made by Jewish filmmakers, like Steven Spielberg.
Running from January 29th until February 20th, and attracting more than 30,000 moviegoers each year, the AJFF committee uses this festival as a platform to entertain and educate, as well as promote talent and expand awareness.
I hadn’t attended the AJFF before, so when the opportunity to attend one of their new events presented itself, I jumped at the chance. Wise choice on my part, obviously, for I was able to meet E.T.
For this event, entitled “Celebration Iconic Jewish Filmmakers”, the AJFF teamed up with one of my favorite local newspapers (Creative Loafing) in one of my favorite areas of town (West Midtown) to create a laid-back social event that would engage attendees in some hands-on interaction with four classic films by Jewish filmmakers.
You may have heard of these filmmakers: the Coen Brothers, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, and the aforementioned Mr. Spielberg.
While none of these directors were in attendance, (that would’ve been awesome, though!), the party transformed the large gallery space in the Westside Cultural Arts Center (997 Brady Ave NW, Atlanta, GA 30318) into mini-exhibits that allowed attendees to step inside some of our favorite movies.
As an aside, the Westside Cultural Arts Center was actually the subject of one of my street art posts; click here to see more:
Inside at the party, the exhibits were the perfect opportunity to jazz up your social media with neat pics.
Who wouldn’t want to don a red hoodie and hop on the bike with E.T. in the basket?? The line for that exhibit teemed with people giddily waiting for their photo opp.
In addition to E.T., there was a chance to step into The Big Lebowski’s bathroom scene, perching on a toilet in a bathrobe and sunglasses, a la Jeff Bridges.
Or if standing before a massive rock with stone slabs chiseled with holy Hebrew words is more your speed, the Mel Brooks exhibit was for you, complete with a Biblical robe, scraggly wig, and beard.
And for the lovers in the crowd, an evening bench scene overlooking the Hudson River courtesy of Woody Allen awaited you.
The event catered to a younger, more hip movie-going crowd, and I’m sure that the AJFF was pleased to widen their fan base by throwing an event with Creative Loafing.
Mission accomplished: I have officially added several AJFF movie screenings to my calendar, and might even apply next year to be on the jury, casting my vote on the film submissions! Hey, they need the opinions of regular folk, so why not me?? LOL.
Check out their website for more information and schedules for the remaining few weeks of the festival. Screenings will take place in various venues around Atlanta, including the Cobb Energy Center, Regal Atlantic Station, GTC Merchants Walk, and the Woodruff Arts Center. You can download a comprehensive program guide on their website, www.ajff.org.
P.S. As a total aside, it now occurs to me that though E.T. was hugely popular, I bet a Jaws scene would’ve been really awesome…. Imagine the teeth!