Being neither particularly keen on documentaries, nor the song “Hava Nagila,” I approached Have Nagila: The Movie with some trepidation. (Indeed, I put it off as long as I could.) Now, mind you, I have nothing against the song, but it’s one of those things that you’ve heard once — or 40 times — too often. Any movie that includes a Jewish celebration — sometimes just a reference to Jews — there it is. It’s a wonder DeMille didn’t work it into The Ten Commandments, though that would have been historically absurd — even to a degree that DeMille might’ve demurred. Turns out, the song is not all that old. That’s just one of the many things we learn in the film’s playful — often charming — 72-minute running time. I’d be lying if I said you’re not likely to be “Hava Nagila’d” out by the end of the movie, because you’ll hear the song — a lot and in a lot of forms. We get it in its original form, its modern form, its pop music form, its parody form and even in forms that protest its very existence. (I should warn the faint of heart that while the parody’s include Allan Sherman’s clever take on the song, it also means you’ll be exposed to Joanne Worley’s version. I just don’t think people should be exposed to Joanne Worley without fair warning.) But mostly, you’ll just be entertainingly informed. It’s really a lot of fun.
The Fine Arts Theatre’s opening film for the Asheville Jewish Film Festival, Hava Nagila: The Movie, plays as a special event — with a reception and food from Fig Bistro and entertainment by Bandana Klezmer — starting Thursday, April 25 at 6 p.m. at Blue Spiral 1 (the film shows at the Fine Arts). A 1 p.m. showing is Friday, April 26. For more info go to: www.ashevillejewishfilmfestival.com