Dave Lux knows the exact date he left home, a modest farmstead in the Czech countryside. It was the 15th of March, 1939. It was shortly before his sixth birthday, before he knew calendars and dates, but he remembers the traffic in Prague, the armed soldiers in the streets. The traffic jam, he would learn years later from history books, was the date that marked the beginning of the German occupation of Czechoslovakia.
Lux and his 7-year-old brother headed on a month-long transit journey to England, where they would wait out the remainder of World War II. It wasn’t until months after the war ended, when Lux was 12, that he realized he would never see his parents again and never return to his childhood home. “I wouldn’t know where to go,” he says. “I have no idea what the address was.”
Lux, now 80, recalls in achingly vivid detail what it was like to leave. “My mother asked over and over, ‘Are you sure you want to go?’ She was just hysterical.”
That’s a moment he recounts in the documentary Nicky’s Family, which tells the story of how Lux, along with 668 other children, got papers to leave just before the Holocaust claimed their parents. The film is one of eight that shows this week as part of the Carmel Jewish Film Festival (see www.mcweekly.com for full schedule).
Nicholas “Nicky” Winton was a 29-year-old British stockbroker on his way to a ski trip in Switzerland when a friend took him through Prague, where he saw cold, hungry children. He evaded a Nazi spy to establish a nonprofit that got papers and placements in England for those kids, all without revealing himself in public. It wasn’t until the ’80s, when Winton’s wife found a scrapbook in the attic, that his list was made public.
There are other provocative subjects on display in the varied content of the film festival. There’s also comedy and drama, all probing questions of Jewish identity from various angles.
Lux, who eventually settled in Los Angeles, will be at the screening of Nicky’s Family March 6 for a Q&A. But he’s most interested in this: “The question I want to ask, and I never get the answer, is for my parents: How could they do this? My parents made this extreme sacrifice. I don’t know how they could do it, but that’s why I’m here.”
Festival happens at various times and locations March 1-9. $12/films;$10/temple members, military, students, seniors; $15/ receptions; $130/all-access pass; $72/three-event pass. 800-838-3006, www.carmeljff.org
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7:30pm March 1 | Le Concert
This French comedy, which features an award-winning score, tells the story of a renowned conductor-turned-janitor who got demoted for hiring Jewish musicians to play in the Bolshoi orchestra. He quietly tries to gather the old ensemble to play a show on a Paris stage instead of the current Bolshoi, despite a series of absurd obstacles.
Directed by Radu Mihăileanu, rated PG-13, 110 min., French and Russian with English subtitles. Reception begins at 6:30pm. Golden Bough Playhouse, Monte Verde Street between Eighth and Ninth, Carmel.
2pm March 2 | The Jewish Cardinal
File this one under reality is stranger than fiction. Jean-Marie Lustiger maintained his cultural identity as a Jew even after converting to Catholicism and joining the prisethood, eventually being appointed Archbishop of Paris by Pope Jean Paul II.
Directed by Ilan Duran Cohen, rated PG-13, 90 mins., French with English subtitles. Reception and panel discussion with Rabbi Bruce Greenbaum and Bishop Richard Garcia follows the film. Golden Bough Playhouse.
7:30pm March 4 | The Other Son
This film kicks up the nature vs. nurture debate with a provocative plotline: Two young men, one Israeli, the other Palestinian – realize they were switched at birth.
Directed by Lorraine Levy, rated PG-13, 110 mins., Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles. Congregation Beth Israel, 5716 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel.
7:30pm March 6 | Nicky’s Family
Directed by Matej Mináč, rated PG-13, 96 mins., English. Discussion with David Lux, a survivor who is featured in the film follows screening. Congregation Beth Israel.
7:30pm March 8 | Mi Primera Boda
This Argentinian comedy pokes fun at inter-marriage, focusing not on religion, but on the groom’s last-minutes efforts to delay the ceremony – and it’s not because he’s got cold feet (or does he?) but because he’s misplaced the rings.
Directed by Ariel Winograd, rated PG-13, 102 mins., Spanish with English subtitles. Reception begins at 6:30pm. Congregation Beth Israel.
1pm March 9 | David
When the 11-year-old son of an imam at a local mosque falls in with a group of Orthodox Jewish boys, complicated questions about friendship and community ensue. The two lead actors are kids from the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bay Ridge and Borough Park where the film was entirely shot.
Directed by Joel Fendelman, rated PG, 80 mins., English. Rabbi Leah Novick and Nashwan Hamza lead a discussion following the film. Congregation Beth Israel.
7:30pm March 9 | The Attack
Based on a best-selling novel by the Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra, this film explores the story of a secular Palestinian surgeon living in Tel Aviv. He responds to an explosion where another bombshell hits: One of the victims is his wife, and her injuries appear to be caused by a suicide bomb. Bewildered, the grieving doctor returns to his home in Nablus seeking answers.
Directed by Ziad Doueiri, rated R, 102 mins., Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles. Reception begins at 6:30pm; panel discussion follows the film. Monterey Institute of International Studies, Irvine Auditorium, 499 Pierce St., Monterey.