A year after attendance records were set, the 23rd annual Jewish Film Festival has been postponed until the fall because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in Maine.

The festival was set to screen 40 films over the course of the eight-day event in Bangor, Brunswick, Lewiston, Portland, Rockland and Waterville. Opening night was slated for March 28 in Portland and included a screening of the 2019 documentary, “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles.”

Barbara Merson, executive director of the Maine Jewish Film Festival, said Tuesday that her organization did what it had to do in postponing the festival because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but said the film festival will be rescheduled for the fall. Portland Press Herald file photo by Joel Page

Barbara Merson, executive director of the festival, said it’s disappointing to have to postpone the event, but ultimately the right thing to do.

“Of course we’re very disappointed, but we felt that we did what we had to do,” Merson said. “Just like everyone else is doing during this time. And we have received many expressions of support from donors and patrons …”

Merson said the festival will be rescheduled for a date in the fall. The new date hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Other films on the festival’s lineup were “Prince of Egypt,” “Those Who Remained,” “The Keeper” and “Last Stop Coney Island.”

“The films are all based on global Jewish experience which has a very broad range of subjects,” Merson said. “It attracts large crowds of diverse people each year.” 

Last year the festival garnered 3,000 patrons, making it the most attended festival in its 22-year history.

The festival was organized by the nonprofit Maine Jewish Film Festival in collaboration with educational institutions and organizations across the state including Colby College and Bates College.

The postponement of the Jewish Film Festival is one of the many events canceled or put off due to the coronavirus. Other events that have been impacted include the Maine Flower Show, Maine Maple Sunday, Portland’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Maine Statehood Day Ceremony.

Updates on the postponed film festival can be found on the organization’s website, mjff.org.


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