Fractured Bubble Weaving Interior
Curiosity is an innate quality that drives Jason Hutt. Ever since he was a young child, he has been fascinated with figuring out how things work and understanding the world around him. This inquisitive streak has led him to select film subjects that grab him because they are intriguing and exciting.
"With all my films, I am just trying to create a portrait and tell a story that other's haven't seen before," he said.
The Washington Jewish Film Festival opens Thursday, Feb. 27 and runs through Sunday, March 9. Tickets for the festival, including "Sukkah City" can be purchased at www.wjff.org. Tickets for a single screening are $12, a full festival pass is $85 and an All Access VIP Pass is $125.
The Potomac native has directed, filmed and produced three documentaries that portray "unique cultures and innovative individuals found within the contemporary Jewish landscape and beyond." His latest film, "Sukkah City" will screen on March 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the JCC of Greater Washington in Rockville, at noon at the Library of Congress on March 7 and also at noon at the DCJCC on March 9. Hutt's films have screened around the world and been broadcast on networks including PBS, BBC and YES, Israel.
Hutt is a 1989 graduate of Churchill High School and of Harvard University, where he majored in economics. In his senior year at Harvard, he gravitated toward film production classes, and, after graduation, to a position with a movie and television production company in L.A. Next, he transferred to Wilmington, N.C. where he was a film camera man. However, he decided that creating and producing documentaries was what he really wanted to do and he moved to New York City where he created his documentary movie company, Oxbow Lake Productions.
In 2001, he produced his first film, "Breezewood, Pennsylvania." Having traveled through the tiny town of truckers, motels and fast food restaurants many times on his way west, he was curious about what it was like there. Thus, he stayed in Breezewood for six weeks, talking to community residents as well as to people passing through. He discovered a "Truck and Traveler's Ministry" begun by a resident chaplain who leads Bible studies for the truckers, helps stranded tourists in need of food, gas or lodging, and assists people who are in desperate need of a connection with someone. This Good Samaritan ministry is financed by the religious community of Breezewood. Hutt's film explores the people of this small interstate crossroad community and how they found a mission.
"Orthodox Stance", the story of Dmitriy Salita's pursuit of a boxing career as well as his devotion to Orthodox Judaism, was Hutt's second film. This documentary premiered at the 2007 SilverDocs Festival and was awarded "2008 Best Documentary" by the London Jewish Cultural Awards. The film also received numerous other honors and awards.
Hutt is pleased that his third film, "Sukkah City" has been selected to be screened at many prestigious Jewish film festivals, including Washington D.C. and Jerusalem.
Hutt discusses the story of his documentary: "The film chronicles the architecture competition created by best-selling author Joshua Foer and Roger Bennett that explored the creative potential of the ancient Jewish sukkah and created a temporary exhibition of radically designed sukkahs in New York City. The film goes behind the scenes of the jury day, the construction and the exhibition to provide an entertaining and inspiring portrait of the project's visionary architects, planners and structures and celebrates an exciting singular moment in the American Jewish experience."
Hutt believes that his documentary will provide audiences with a comprehensive understanding why Foer and Bennett created the competition, how the winning structures were chosen as well as how much labor each took.
This is the 24th year of the Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF.) This year their program will feature 14 venues, 40 filmmaker guests and 10,000 expected attendees.
Director Ilya Tovbis said, "Hutt's documentary was chosen from 1,000 submitted films. It is an extremely interesting look at architecture that is literally thousands of years old. The film provides a lively sense of the re-emergence of the structures themselves and the creativity of the designers. The 64 films were selected because they are high quality and also highlight the Jewish or Israeli experience."
"It's a wonderful experience to come back to D.C. with a film," said Hutt. "My hope is that the audiences will feel inspired, excited and energized by the creative process of the architects; the vision and ambition of the project's planners, and the singularity of this moment in contemporary American Jewish life."