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Jewish Film Festival, Silent Movie Showing, Modern Dance and More

Enrich your life, March 24 – 30, 2011

15th Annual Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival

Award-winning feature films, romances, thrillers, power-packed documentaries, comedies, and shorts are all on the roster for the 15th annual  Jewish Film Festival, which runs from March 26 through April 5 at eight area venues. This year's ambitious lineup includes 21 films from seven countries plus a newShalom Sesame film with a Model Matzah Bakery, a concert with musicians from the University of Hartford's Hartt School, visiting filmmakers in “Reel Talk” panels, a vintage Israeli film poster exhibit, and an opening night gala reception. Film highlights include Berlin '36, based on the true story of Jewish Olympic high jumper Gretel Bergmann who was required by the Nazis to compete with the Aryan team, and Amnon's Journey, about a master violin maker who recovers and restores violins played by Jews in the ghettos, camps and forests during the Holocaust.

Ticket price is $10 per film with discounts for students with identification, Wadsworth Atheneum film buffs, and Let's Go Arts card holders. Several free screenings are on offer (see the festival website for details). Passes for the entire festival, which include various special events, start at $225 per person and range up to $500. For the complete schedule, list of venues, and other details, visit the comprehensive www.hjff.org site or call the box office at 860-231-6316. The entire festival schedule can be downloaded as a free HJFF iPhone App from the iPhone Store.

EQuilibrium Dance Theatre Presents The Settlement

Connecticut's EQuilibrium Dance Theatre has earned a reputation for blending styles of movement and music – from hip-hop to the lindy hop, and b-boying to African and modern dance. This week the company brings its latest production,The Settlement, to West Hartford's . Combining movement, music and spoken word, The Settlement tells the story of different journeys through life. It explores the challenge of finding an identity in a society that is disconnected from ritual, nature and community.

Performances are March 24 through 27. Tickets range from $17.50 to $22.50 with discounts for students, seniors, and Let's Go Arts members. Playhouse on Park is at 244 Park Road, West Hartford. For more information, visit www.playhouseonpark.org or call 860-523-5900 x10.

Silent Movie Classic at Cheney Hall

It is not every day that film audiences get a chance to journey back in time to the era of silent film. Nor is it every day that fans of comedy get to see one of the great comic geniuses of that era – or any. On March 25, Manchester's Cheney Hall presents Buster Keaton in The General. Christened "Buster" by vaudevillian parents who tossed him around the stage as part of their act, Keaton went on to make classic silent film comedies that remain as funny now as they were in the 1920s. Co-written by Keaton, The General finds the master of the deadpan blending comedy and action in the story of a southern man with two loves –Annabelle Lee and the train called "The General." When the latter is stolen by Union spies with Annabelle on board, Keaton's Johnny follows in hilarious pursuit. Accompanying the film will be original music by pianist Karen Krinjak.The General was voted one of the 10 greatest films of all time in a Sight & Soundpoll.

Show time is 7 p.m. Suggested donation is $10. Young audiences are encouraged to attend. For tickets, show times, and more information, visitwww.cheneyhall.org or call 860-647-9824. Cheney Hall is at 177 Hartford Road, Manchester.

Blunt, Nighy and Soldini Films Next in Library Series

Emily Blunt is currently on screen opposite Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau, but in 2010 she got to star opposite the peerless Bill Nighy in the caper comedy Wild Target. Blunt plays a thief who makes an engaging target for Nighy's hit man. The film, rated PG-13, is next up in the Kent Memorial Library's series of free pictures. The screening is March 25 at 2 p.m. On March 30, the library presents Come Undone, the 2010 drama from Italian director Silvio Soldini (Bread and Tulips). The film stars Alba Rohrwacher and Giuseppe Battiston in an exploration of the effects of adultery on the individuals involved and their families. The screening is at 6:30 p.m. The film is not rated but contains adult content. 

No registration required. Please, no food or drink. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. English subtitles available upon request. For further information. call the library at 668-3896.

Kent Memorial Library is at 50 North Main St., Suffield. For more information, visit www.suffield-library.org or call 860-668-3896.

Space Expo at New England Air Museum

Want to try on a space suit? Pilot a space craft simulator? Touch a meteorite or taste space food? These activities and more await visitors to the New England Air Museum's annual Space Expo on March 27. More than 15 exhibitors – from NASA to the Talcott Mountain Science Center – are participating in the event. There will be special guest appearances and presentations throughout the day. An Apollo 13 exhibit and presentation will show how the crew was rescued, thanks in part to many of the engineers at Hamilton Standard (now Sunstrand), of Windsor Locks.

The Space Expo runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The New England Air Museum is at 36 Perimeter Road, Windsor Locks. For more information, visitwww.neam.org or call 860-623-3305

HSO Pops Welcomes Guests for Jazz Tribute

Lovers of jazz and swing, take note: On March 26, the Hartford Symphony Pops presents Nat King Cole and Friends: A Tribute to the Classic Jazz Singers. Renowned guest conductor Jeff Tyzik leads the band through a songbook of American jazz standards with help from guest diva Dee Daniels, who's celebrated for her four-octave range. Tunes include Just One of Those Things, Straighten Up and Fly Right, Smile, Mack the Knife, Nature Boy, Superstition, and Mona Lisa.

Concert time is 8 p.m. at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from $30 to $60. Student tickets cost $10. For tickets and more information, visit www.hartfordsymphony.org or call 860-244-2999. The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts is at 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford

Next to Normal at Bushnell

Next to Normal is nothing like the typical Broadway musical. The Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway hit concerns a mother who worries about the effect her bipolar disorder is having on her family. New York Times drama critic Ben Brantley called Next to Normal, "a brave, breathtaking musical.  A work of muscular grace and power.  It is something much more than a feel-good musical; it is a feel-everything musical.” With a rock score by Tom Kitt and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, the Broadway production featured Alice Ripley in the role of the mother. Ripley, who earned a Tony for her role, now stars in the North American touring production, which arrives March 29 at Hartford's Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. 

Ticket prices start at $17. Visit www.bushnell.org or call 860-987-5900. The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts is at 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford

A Steady Rain at TheaterWorks

Keith Huff's cop drama A Steady Rain begins performances this week at TheaterWorks in Hartford. The play, which made a brief New York splash in a production starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, tells a familiar story of longtime buddy cops who wind up on opposite sides of the law."Clark Gable, William Powell, James Cagney and Pat O'Brien all played one or the other side of this equation on screen," writes New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley. "After a decade or so of hard use, that formula looked threadbare and made for parody, though it has persisted and can still be glimpsed in episodes of Law & Order and similar television fare. If Mr. Huff has not managed to reweave this premise with any surprising threads, he has packed it with enough lurid incident to fill a season of Law & Order." Tazewell Thompson directs the TheaterWorks production with Kyle Fabel and Aaron Roman Weiner as police officers Denny and Joey. 

A Steady Rain runs from March 25 through May 8. For tickets or more information, visit www.theaterworkshartford.org or call 860-527-7838.TheaterWorks is at  233 Pearl St., Hartford

Book Now: Major Authors in Town for CT Forum

Book your tickets now for this May 7 event: Three exceptional literary minds come together on stage at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts on May 7. The event is the Connecticut Forum. The participants are John Irving, author of novels including The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules; Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections and Freedom; and Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran.

The forum begins at 8 p.m. For tickets or more information, visitwww.ctforum.org or call 860-509-0909.

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