September 27, 2023

Media Decoder: A Jewish Date, Then a Movie

Jewish Film Club “The Human Resources Manager” is the Jewish Film-of-the-Month Club’s first film selection.

LOS ANGELES — JDate, the Web-based dating service, has been helping singles “find friendship, romance and lifelong partners within the Jewish faith.” It can also hook you up with a movie.

On Monday, Film Movement is announcing what it calls North America’s first Jewish Film-of-the-Month Club, with JDate as its sponsor. The service plans to send a new, Jewish-themed feature film on DVD and via Internet streaming to subscribers once every two months — and then monthly, when things get swinging — for an annual subscription rate of $108, or $68 for six months and $3.25 in shipping and handling costs per disc.

The first picture on tap is “The Human Resources Manager,” a somewhat comic character study that was Israel’s submission for the best foreign language film Oscar this year. After that comes “Protektor,” a Czech film about a journalist who tries to safeguard his Jewish wife by working for a radio station that broadcasts Nazi propaganda.

It seems difficult to believe that the large, film-savvy Jewish population of the United States and Canada has not had a coast-to-coast film club of this sort. But Adley Gartenstein, the president of Film Movement, insists it is so.

“The closest thing that exists to us, is us,” said Mr. Gartenstein, who spoke of both the new club, and Film Movement’s existing DVD of the Month Club.

Mr. Gartenstein is one of many film executives who contend that the future of home viewing will depend on having curators to sort through the thousands of feature-length films that are made annually.

Speaking by telephone last week, Mr. Gartenstein said his company had long intended to open niche clubs that might offer Spanish-language, black-themed or children’s films. The Jewish club came first, he said, partly because film gatherings like the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival (“Our films aren’t just selected, they’re chosen”) provide a potential audience and a ready pipeline to movies. He estimated that 500,000 people attended Jewish film festivals annually in the United States.

Goals are relatively modest: Mr. Gartenstein said he would like to see the new club grow to 25,000 members within three years. Some of the proceeds, he said, will go to Chai Lifeline, an organization that helps the families of children with serious illness.

As for what constitutes a Jewish-themed film, Mr. Gartenstein’s standard is not strict. “Central to the story will be one or more Jewish characters,” he said.

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