Well pals, we asked for your best ideas for the ultimate Hanukkah movie, and you delivered. We received so many entries to our Second Annual Hanukkah Movie Pitch Challenge, and you all are really good at this! So good that it was truly difficult to narrow the entries down to our top eight. And so, we’re presenting you with our top 10, instead!
Before we get to them, we wanted to share some common themes we noticed from the submissions: multiple heists to re-capture the Vatican menorah, time-traveling Judah Maccabees (again), small-town potato business rivalries, and lawyers. So many lawyers.
Okay, onto the top 10. Now’s your chance to vote for your favorite idea, which again, will absolutely not be made into a movie, but will be made into a fun digital poster at least. Once you’re read through them all, you can vote here.
In alphabetical order:
Festival of Frights
by Zack Beauchamp
After a series of inexplicable murders at Brandeis University in December, a group of graduate students (NATALIE PORTMAN, TIMOTHEE CHALAMET, DAVEED DIGGS, GAL GADOT, ZOE KRAVITZ, SETH ROGEN) discover that the spirit of the Spanish Inquisition leader Torquemada (JAVIER BARDEM) is behind the killings. With the aid of a mysterious figure calling himself Mordechai (HARRISON FORD), they learn that the only way to stop it is to by lighting the original Maccabees’ menorah on the last night of Hanukkah. Can they find it — and survive till then?
Fry Me to the Moon
by Adam & Maggie Pelta-Pauls
Two lunar explorers (one Jewish, one not very religious) become stranded when their return craft accidentally launches without them. Stuck in an empty moon outpost, it’s eight days till they can be rescued, so they’ll have to make their supplies last, but it’s also Hanukkah. Since there’s no day-night cycle on the moon, the Jewish astronaut marks the time by lighting candles and reciting the Hanukkah prayers. Initially at odds, the two grow closer by the light of their makeshift menorah and figure out how to use their meager supplies to make holiday staples like latkes and donuts. When a dust storm knocks out the sensors on the rescue ship, only their fully-lit menorah shines brightly enough for the astronauts to be found, safe and sound, having just celebrated the first Hanukkah on the moon.
Gimel! Gimel! Gimel! A Man After Midnight
by Dana Herrnstadt
Rachel Goldstein is sick and tired of all things Hanukkah. Between her family’s struggling kosher deli, “Nosh, Nosh: Who’s There?”, her rapidly diminishing hopes of finding her real father, and her single mother, Leah, who won’t stop belting ABBA, Rachel’s holiday gloom just might snuff out every everlasting light in Westchester. That is, until she stumbles across an old box of envelopes dating back to the year of Leah’s bat mitzvah. When Rachel uncovers three steamy notes enclosed with three even steamier $18 checks from Unknown Men Who Just Might Be Her Father, she knows she has to act. In secret, Rachel invites each maybe-daddy to Nosh Nosh’s last-ditch attempt at staying in business: an eight-night Dreidel Fest. Will these mysterious men show up before the last candle flickers out? Will Rachel rediscover her inner chutzpah and finally start to believe in Hanukkah miracles? Or will her impulsivity end up hurting Leah’s business — and breaking Leah’s heart when she should be breaking glass? Starring Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, That One Congregant Who Always Sings Louder Than Than the Rabbi Which Everyone Pretends Not to Notice But Is Definitely Thinking About, and Guy Who Always Says His Dead Relative’s Name Out Loud Before The Mourner’s Kaddish, Which, For No Good Reason, Makes You Mildly Uncomfortable.
The Great Hanukkah Heist
by Paige Feldman
In 2020, the year of COVID, murder hornets, and record fires, we all need a miracle. Hannah Rosenberg, art historian currently studying texts from ancient Jerusalem, is going to make one happen.
See, deep in the bowels of the Vatican vaults, under heavy guard, sits the menorah from the Beit Ha-Mikdash. The Catholic Church won’t admit they stole it, and repeated attempts to ask for it back have gone unanswered. Hannah has discovered, in her studies, that the miracle of Hanukkah is more than lore — it actually happened, and the menorah from the Temple, when put back in its place during the Festival of Lights, will help light the way to justice (and hopefully fix all the crap that’s been wrong this year).
Hannah assembles a crack team of Jewish geniuses, including her camp best friend, Molly (now a renowned hacker), Florencia (the head of the junior sisterhood at her temple, who also knows seven languages), and her ex-boyfriend, Judah, who mysteriously dumped her five years ago with no explanation and now lives in Rome (the Jewish quarter, natch), and who Hannah has never gotten over… Together, with a few others (including a badass Holocaust survivor financing the whole thing), it’s a race against the clock to break into the Vatican, find and steal the menorah, and return it to Jerusalem before sundown on 3 Tevet — the last night of Hanukkah.
The Great Hanukkah Heist is National Treasure meets Ocean’s 11 for those who love the Maccabees.
by Ava Sharahy
Reuben Stoneberg, an illegal arms dealer who only sells comically Jewish-themed weapons, goes to a Hanukkah party his estranged wife and kids are holding. When the party is taken captive by Neo-Nazis/the KKK/the Christian mob (or all three fuck it), it’s up to Reuben to defeat the bosses of these organizations to save his family over the course of eight days, with the help of his menorah-shaped flamethrower, Star of David throwing stars, and more Jewish-themed weapons that he brought to a party for some reason. Soundtrack would be cheesy ’80s power ballad versions of Yiddish folk songs.
The Mensch And The Maccabee
by Micha Winchester
When down on his luck clumsy menschlechite Moishe tips his menorah over on the first night of Hanukkah, setting his apartment ablaze, he can’t find a reason to go on.
He’s forced to run out onto the street with nothing but the clothes on his back, but Moishe can’t believe his eyes when out of the burning inferno walks Judah Maccabeus: leader of the Maccabean revolt, the man responsible for the festival of Hanukkah itself.
An unlikely team, Moishe and Judah have no choice but to help each other get back to normal life before time runs out: Moishe to a decent apartment with a fire extinguisher, and Judah to Jerusalem, 164 BCE.
Comedy, drama, and self-discovery ensue — and perhaps even romance? In cinemas soon.
by Mika Washofsky
After losing her grandfather, Shira Levi decides to take all of December to trace her family roots. In Spain, on the first night of Hanukkah, she happens upon a tiny shul and stops in to light the candles. There she meets Maria Toledano, a young musician trying to rekindle Sephardic stories and Ladino music. Together they travel the Iberian peninsula, finding the true meaning of family and music and the gay agenda.
The Oil Also Rises
by Tara Moulson
Like clockwork, Rachel (Mila Kunis) goes to her favorite New York City bagel shop every Monday morning (okay it is actually Timothee Chalamet’s favorite bagel shop and she secretly hopes she will run into him there and the two will fall madly in love). When one morning the last of the sesame bagels is rudely swiped from her hands by an uncouth bagel thief (played by young Paul Rudd circa Clueless era), Rachel’s life will change forever. Unbeknownst to Rachel, that bagel swindler is none other than Max Weinberg, a friend of her mother’s hairdresser’s sister’s gynecologist, a fact which she soon discovers after the two lock eyes over the last latke at her mother’s Hanukkah dinner. Will Rachel open her heart to young Paul Rudd (ahem, I mean Max) so the two can make sweet sweet bagels together?
by Serena Jampel
Judith Klein has spent her whole life serving others, from taking care of her younger siblings after their mother passed away to working as a waitress and a tutor to put herself through college. Now, after eight years dancing at the Golden Calf nightclub in New York City and seething at the exploitation and harassment she and her fellow workers experience at the hands of the rich, pervy owner, Holofernes “Fern” Martin, Judith sets out for one last act of service: seducing and killing her boss. A drunken night, a careful manipulation, a beheading — Judith and her friends take over the Golden Calf and redistribute Martin’s stolen wealth. Buoyed by initial success, Judith and her sexy assassins set out to even the scales, targeting some of the most notorious pimps and club owners of the city. Together, they eat the rich and distribute the gains, one delicious chocolate coin at a time.
by Allie Lembo
Harold plans to stay abroad in Denmark for a month of holiday drag shows instead of shlepping back and forth between his divorced parents’ Hanukkah dinners; that is, until the sudden death of his cancer-ridden father. Instead of shiva and latkes, he comes home to find that his mom is already engaged to his dad’s best friend, and the Scarsdale house is decked out in Christmas decorations. A psychedelic trip with hometown friends leads to a hallucination of his father, revealing that his death might not have been so natural. With just eight nights of Hanukkah before the wedding, can Harold and his friends plan a festival of lights, lip sync, and drag to discover if his dad’s pal is behind it all? Or will his obsessions with death and the use of glitter drive them all mad? A dark but sparkly comedy.