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Third annual JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival opens March 10

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Third annual JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival photo

Budding young filmmaker Jack Yonover will share his food allergies documentary 'That Bites!' with audiences at this year's JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival. (Photo credit: Jack Mueller)

Jack Yonover is quite an impressive and articulate eighth grader. Two years ago, Yonover, who is allergic to pistachios and cashews, came up with the idea to make a documentary for his bar mitzvah project reflecting on the fears and frustrations of living with food allergies.

A self-starter and an aspiring filmmaker, Yonover raised $10,000 to fund That Bites! through a crowdfunding campaign. The Wilmette native took lessons at Chicago's FACETS Multi-Media film school to learn the basics of documentary filmmaking and learned to edit film from the geniuses at the Apple Store. Then, for Chanukah, his family bought him some movie-making equipment.

Yonover says he hopes his film helps other kids, like himself, who struggle with allergies. "I know that when I was diagnosed with my allergy, if I had seen my movie, the first few months of living with a food allergy would have been a lot easier," he said.

His film is about to get a much wider audience when the third annual JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival opens March 10. The documentary is one of 18 Jewish-inspired films that will be screened at the festival, which runs through March 20 in Chicago and the suburbs.

"We have such a fantastic selection of films," said Addie Goodman, chief advancement officer for JCC Chicago. "There really is something for everyone -- documentaries, shorts and feature-lengths -- stories that will make you laugh, cry, be inspired, learn, and love. The film festival celebrates great art and powerful storytelling all through a Jewish lens."

In addition to Yonover's documentary, two other festival films specifically relate to the Chicago community -- Surviving Skokie and Breakfast at Ina's. Surviving Skokie, created by the son of a Holocaust survivor, chronicles how the quiet existence of hundreds of survivors is disrupted when a neo-Nazi group announces plan to march through town. For lighter fare, Breakfast at Ina's tells the story of Ina Pinkney, a.k.a. Chicago's "Breakfast Queen," who decided to close her iconic West Loop restaurant after more than 30 years of feeding Chicagoans.

Some of the festival films drawing buzz include the quirky documentary Very Semi-Serious, which examines the humor, art, and genius of The New Yorker cartoons; the British dramedy, Dough, chronicling an old Jewish baker whose floundering business is saved by a young Muslim apprentice; and Felix and Meira, a cross-cultural love story, set in Montreal, between a Hasidic woman and a secular man. Also, Every Face Has a Name captures the first free steps of Holocaust survivors docking in Malmo, Sweden, while It Happened in Saint-Tropez is the French romantic comedy filled with mix-ups and betrayals involving a family of opposites.

The films, targeting ages from kids to adults, will screen at eight venues around the city and suburbs, including additional screenings in private homes upon request.

"What we're looking for with the festival," Goodman said, "is the opportunity for our community to connect, dialogue, think, and really be inspired by film."

For more details on the JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival, visit www.jccfilmfest.org. JCC is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community.

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