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‘Breaking Upwards’ opens AJFF series for young adults

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Audience members found their seats before an Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screening of "Breaking Upwards" at Atlantic Station. AJC/Jamie Gumbrecht

When I wandered into Strip last night to pick up my ticket for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival “Breaking Upwards” screening, I might have wandered into a class reunion. The crowd was young, boisterous and everybody there seemed to know each other in that I-haven’t-seen-you-in-years-except-on-Facebook kind of way.

This was the opening night of the festival’s young-adult-oriented ‘Scene & Be Seen‘ selections, and it delivered — good mood, big crowd, lovely film. I went alone, and might’ve felt lonely had I not bumped into some people I haven’t seen in about five years except on Facebook.

Other films in the series are are “Ajami”, “Leaving the Fold”,  “Lost Islands”,  “Mary and Max“, “A Matter of Size”, and “Seven Minutes in Heaven.” As they say, “this is not your bubbe’s film festival.”

I loved “Breaking Upwards,” even if it’s not the kind of romantic comedy I’d see with my parents, or even a date. It’s more a relationship comedy, one I’d prefer to see with my best friend and a bottle of wine. Romance doesn’t enter the discussion all that often.

Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones, the young characters/actors/writers/director/caterer/musicians who lived the story and created the movie, botch their highly strategic break-up by having emotions that don’t  jibe with the plan. Funny how that happens.

Hilarity and tragedy ensue, culminating in a Seder blow-up with mom(s) and dad yelling, aunts staring and the couple really, truly breaking up. All of this looked and felt quite familiar to me, although my family doesn’t act like their family, my city never felt like New York and my college-age relationships were never so stable as theirs. Also, my people are Catholic.

Film critic Eleanor Ringel Cater had a lot of nice things to say about the movie in her review for the AJC, but I disagree with her assessment “we don’t root for them to get back together in the film, as, say, we did for Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in ‘Annie Hall.’” I totally rooted for them to get back together — not necessarily by the end of the movie, but someday.

And this is why we like film festivals: Wein and Lister-Jones were there to answer questions after. Yes, the film was made for only $50,000, yes, they attended NYU together, no, their mom’s aren’t quite like that, no the Seder dinner never really happened.

Six years later, they’re still together.

Want to go? The 10th Atlanta Jewish Film Festival continues through Jan. 24. $10, $9 for people ages 65 and older and students with ID. $8 for screenings held Monday-Thursday before 4 p.m. Venues in Atlantic Station, Sandy Springs and Johns Creek. 404-806-9913, www.ajff.org.

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