Uniting film and music, Tovbis says, allows one medium to shed light on the other, as well as on the Jewish experience worldwide. The documentary “The Passengers,” for example, is about Ethiopian Jews and their struggle to immigrate to Israel, where it seems the government doesn’t want them. On the music side, singer Gili Yalo — an Ethiopian Jew now living in Israel — combines traditional Ethiopian rhythms and melodies with jazz, soul and funk techniques. The film will be shown on May 11 and 14, while Yalo will perform on May 12.
“If you were to go to both of these evenings, one of them would really be an eye-opening, sober look at the struggle of people today,” Tovbis says. “And then the music underscores their experience. You come away with two different perspectives, and that’s true of the way we live our lives.”
Tovbis says combining the two festivals is also a way to reach out to people who previously attended only one or the other.
“We’re hoping [people] will say, ‘Well, I may have previously only come for a [music] show or two, but now there’s a film that really sparks my interest,’ ” he says. “A lot of them are clearly hungry for this deeper engagement.”
Various locations; Wed. through May 26, various times and prices, $30-$325 for passes; go to jxjdc.org for details.
Beyond the music and movies
If neither film nor music is your thing, JxJ still has something to offer through additional cultural experiences. Here are three events you may want to catch. (OK, one of these does involve music, but it’s not your typical concert experience.)
Zalmen Mlotek artist talk
Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW; May 13, 7:30 p.m., $13.50.
Mlotek, the artistic director of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, was one of the forces behind (and the music director of) the Yiddish-language production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” now running at New York’s Stage 42. Mlotek will discuss the creation of the show, and afterward, you’ll hear “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Do You Love Me?” performed by cast members.
Eurovision Song Contest viewing party
AFI Silver, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring; May 18, 2:30 p.m., $20.
The finals for the always-bonkers international song competition take place in Tel Aviv this year. JxJ will sponsor a live viewing party so you can cheer for your favorites while also enjoying a pop-up bar, trivia and a DJ playing Eurovision songs from years past.
“Yankl the Blacksmith”
Goethe-Institut, 1990 K St. NW, Suite 03; May 20, 7 p.m., $3-$20.
In a partnership with Theater J, Dovid Pinski’s 1906 play gets a staged reading. It’s the story of a cheating drunk who marries a young woman in what’s doomed to be a failed relationship — or is it? The play (written in Yiddish, presented here in English) raises questions about how to make a seemingly impossible relationship work.
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the incorrect start date for the festival. It has been updated.