Todd Solondz’s great “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” a dead-on look at a particularly painful adolescence, is having a 20th anniversary screening as part of the 25th edition of the New York Jewish Film Festival. The independent classic is very (darkly) funny–ha-ha, with one of cinema’s most peculiar heroines, beleaguered, bespectacled Dawn “Weinderdog” Weiner (a perfect Heather Matarazzo). It won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
Solondz, this year’s guest director, chose Alain Resnais’ “Night and Fog” (1955), to screen after his film. Shot in an abandoned and quiet Auschwitz, 10 years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp, Resnais’ documentary retains a harrowing power. On selecting Night and Fog, Todd Solondz writes, “I saw “Night and Fog” in college and it stuck with me as a touchstone for speaking of the unspeakable, evoking the unevocable, memorializing without pomp. I can’t say it ‘inspired’ me, but it’s always stood as a kind of monument: What is worth our time and attention? What matters? Who are we?”
Co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Jewish Museum, the 2016 festival includes 38 features from 12 countries, a 10-film retrospective of highlights from previous years, a master class on filmmaking with director Alan Berliner, an evening of shorts and a panel discussion on how to engage today’s film audiences.
The New York Jewish Film Festival, runs through Tuesday, January 26 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. “Welcome to the Dollhouse” and “Night and Fog” screen tonight at 8:45 pm.