Opening night for the 2011 New York Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF) began with a video tribute from Doug Liman, honoring long-time film festival supporters, Martin and Doris Payson. Over the course of two decades, the Paysons’ dedication and generosity nurtured the annual film festival as well as the Museum’s ongoing media programming. The landmark 20th anniversary inspired the formation of the Martin and Doris Payson Fund for Film and Media to ensure the continued growth and vitality of film, video and digital programming at The Jewish Museum in the years to come.
Immediately following the tribute, Joan Rosenbaum, The Jewish Museum’s Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director, introduced the Paysons to present their award. With a heart-felt “Mazel Tov and congratulations!” she turned the stage over to the Paysons.
Martin Payson earned laughs by first stating, “It wouldn’t be the New York Jewish Film Festival without snow or threat of snow.” He went on to discuss his gratitude for the timely fund, his hopes for year-round programming, expanded media programming, and the continued success of NYJFF to attract younger audiences.
Next, Director Percy Adlon gave an eloquent introduction to his film, Mahler on the Couch, which he co-directed with his son, Felix Adlon. Filmed primarily on location in Vienna, Austria, Mahler on the Couch has 3 layers. The first, the true story of Gustav Mahler’s discovery of a love letter written to his wife in the summer of 1910. What is known is that he wrote to Sigmund Freud for advice. Adlon states, “That it happened is fact. How it happened is fiction.” The second layer is the music, reflecting the emotional range of the characters’ experiences, from joy to rage to devastation. Adlon praised the contributions of the Swedish Radio Symphony’s presentation of Mahler’s music. The third layer is gossip, Vienna gossip. As depicted in the film, gossiping occurs when the characters look into the camera and tell the viewer what they are truly thinking. In conclusion, Adlon pointed out that Mahler doesn’t want to talk about sexuality; but that’s all Freud wants to discuss.
Following the screening, the audience moved next door to Lincoln Center’s Kaplan Penthouse to enjoy a lively reception with a jazz trio, cocktails, and a spectacular snowy skyline.