The 5th annual festival kicks off April 22 and runs through May 6 at Thalian Hall.

The Wilmington Jewish Film Festival began in 2013 with a "nosh" -- a single movie and some snacks.

Five years later, the festival has grown to three weeks and 12 films -- nine of them feature-length -- from 10 different countries, plus two buffet dinners and eight dessert receptions. All festival features will be shown at Thalian Hall.

"It's really the most diverse lineup we've ever had," said Steve Unger, a festival organizer. "We've got everything from comedies to musical films, as well as the traditional Holocaust fare."

Although the festival continues its emphasis on Jewish faith and culture, several of the films should appeal to wider audiences, Unger said. He cited "My Hero Brother," a 2016 Israeli-Indian joint production, screening at 1 p.m. April 29. The documentary follows a group of young people with Down syndrome who make a challenging trek through the Himalyan Mountains along with their "normal" siblings.

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The festival also offers a mainstream comedy, "Humor Me" (2017), starring Elliott Gould and Annie Potts ("Young Sheldon"), screening at 7 p.m. May 5. In it, a struggling playwright whose marriage has just broken up moves in with his wisecracking dad at an "active retirement" golf community. The father's penchant for turning everything into a Borscht Belt joke -- including his wife's death -- gets on the son's nerves. But he finds a chance to get back on track by directing the local senior theater troupe.

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Unger is looking forward to the festival opener, an Israeli psychological thriller, "Shelter," screening at 3 p.m. Sunday.

In it, Naomi, an agent from Mossad (the Israeli equivalent of the CIA), is called back from sick leave to "baby sit" an asset at a safe house in Hamburg. The woman, a Lebanese named Mona, is recovering from plastic surgery. She provided Mossad with information about a top leader in Hezbollah, the Muslim militant group. Now, that leader wants her dead. The two very different women grow close -- but even in the safe house, they are not out of danger.

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Among the most acclaimed features is the 2017 Hungarian feature "1945," screening at 7 p.m. April 29, which some reviewers have compared to "High Noon."

Set in a small village in Soviet-occupied Hungary, shortly after World War II, "1945" opens as two men in black step off the local train. (The effect is magnified since the feature is shot in black-and-white.) These are Orthodox Jews, father and son -- apparently the sole survivors of the the village's Jewish community. Their arrival causes consternation. Many of the other villagers profited by grabbing the homes and possessions of neighbors carted off to the death camp. What do these men want? And what are those boxes they are carrying?

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A change of pace is "Sammy Davis Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me," a documentary, screening at 7 p.m. Monday, about the most famous Jewish convert in 20th century America. Director Samuel Pollard, who edited several Spike Lee films and who directed episodes of documentary series "Eyes on the Prize," uses archive footage and interviews to chronicle the career of the groundbreaking actor-singer. Among the interviewees are Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Sidney Poitier, Whoopi Goldberg, Diahann Carroll, Jerry Lewis, Billy Crystal and Norman Lear.

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Also on the schedule:


"An Israeli Love Story" (7 p.m. Tuesday): A French production following a bittersweet romance in Palestine in the years before Israeli independence.
"Shalom Italia" (7 p.m. April 30): An Israeli-German documentary following three aged Jewish brothers traveling through Tuscany, trying to find a cave where they hid from the Nazis as young boys.
"Defiant Requiem" (7 p.m. May 1): This British-Czech documentary, narrated by Bebe Neuwirth, recounts the remarkable story of inmates at the Theresienstadt concentration camp, who stage a performance of Verdi's "Requiem" as an act of defiance against their Nazi captors.
"Past Life" (3 p.m. May 6): This Israeli-Polish co-production is based on a true story. Two sisters -- an aspiring composer and a tabloid journalist -- set out in 1977 to solve the mystery of what their father did during the Holocaust.

Buffet dinners will be served after "Shelter" and "Past Life." Most other screenings will be followed with desserts.

Contact Ben Steelman at 910-343-2008 or Ben.Steelman@StarNewsOnline.com.