Spotlight on Dr. Audrey Weiner Miami Jewish Film Festival Committee Chair

Posted on 09/01/2023 @ 06:00 AM

Tags: Miami Jewish Film Festival

Tell us about your Jewish background and education. I grew up in Deer Park, NY, a town with about one-third the population of Miami Beach that’s in Suffolk County on Long Island. As a baby boomer, the times were such that girls did not become Bat Mitvah in the Conservative synagogue that we belonged to. It was also the era before the public schools were closed for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
I did attend Sunday school, but my Jewishness did not really take root until I went to college and became active in “Students for Peace in the Middle East,” went to Israel for the first time with a national United Jewish Appeal college trip, and conducted the first ever UJA Federation campaign at Adelphi University, my undergraduate alma mater.
What you did professionally before coming to Miami? For more than forty years I worked in the field of aging, culminating in my being the president and CEO of the Jewish Home in New York. It was a long-term care system of nursing homes, seniors housing, home care, day care and adult day care with an annual budget of $300 million and a staff of 3500 serving 10,000 elders and their families on a yearly basis.
Wow, that’s impressive! What motivated you to take this position of leadership as the chair of the Miami Jewish Film Festival? The short answer is that Barbara Black Goldfarb knocked on the window of our car, during one of the pandemic drive-In events and asked me…. and who could say no to Barbara?!? The longer answer is that my husband, Jeff Solomon, has been a supporter, fan and mentor to the MJFF for years and his excitement spilled over to me as well.
Tell us more about your experience working with MJFF? The number of people who are involved in the festival is beyond impressive. They share a love of film, an appreciation for its relevance in telling a story and beginning a conversation, and a special place in their hearts for films that address the issues facing us all today from a Jewish lens. And of course, there is no one who you meet in January during the festival who hasn’t attended opening night at the Bandshell….it is THE place to be!
Why is MJFF important to you and our community? Life is complicated, fractious, and ever more precious today. Film gives us a way to have conversations about difficult issues, without rancor. It gives us a way to appreciate what we may not have understood before
What have been some of your favorite MJFF moments? Last year the film Reckoning and the panel that followed were an example of learning that has relevance to us today as the South Florida Jewish community continues to care for survivors. It was a reminder of the importance of understanding and appreciating history as a backdrop to caring.
And the Shabbat dinners for MJFF supporters during the Festival-- where we hear from film makers, producers and actors-- are so very special.
What would you like to accomplish during your tenure at the film festival? Three main things: Conversation between people about challenging topics. Seeing film patrons’ laughter and smiles. Giving more appreciation to the staff and supporters of the Film Festival.
What have you learned during your involvement with MJFF? The need for flexibility, the importance of listening to our supporters, the value of both in person showings and online viewing opportunities, as well as the impact of our increasing traffic hassles!
What is something you would like our readers to know about MJFF? MJFF has interesting films all year long. As a Film Society, it is much more than “just” an amazing two weeks festival. It is often an opportunity to see a film before it comes to the theaters. It is a chance to see films with the whole family. It is a program that goes beyond politics, religious practice, bias and stigma… it is a way to open doors to new thinking and listening.

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