Private Project

Life is Rich

Jewish mom, Bonnie Rich, is shocked to find out how disconnected from Judaism her Jewish-camp-going, two-time-Israel-visiting, latke-making 20-something daughters feel.

In an effort to connect them to the spiritual side of Judaism—and to get them to agree to raise her future grandchildren Jewish—she schleps them to meet rabbis and noodges them to find more meaning in Jewish holidays. Through it all, Bonnie and the girls debate the relevance of religion, while taking ample breaks for a nosh, a laugh and taste of wisdom from the ultimate Bubbe, Bonnie’s mom.

LIFE IS RICH premiered to a packed crowd at the Washington Jewish Film Festival where it was honored with an Audience Award. The sold-out crowd cried a little, laughed a lot and after the film, engaged in lively conversation about family, food and faith.

  • Bonnie Rich
  • Bonnie Rich
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    46 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 11, 2018
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • 28th Washington Jewish Film Festival
    Washington, DC
    United States
    May 9, 2018
    World Premiere
    Audience Award--Honorable Mention for Best Documentary
  • 28th Washington Jewish Film Festival
    Washington, DC
    United States
    May 13, 2018
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • 2018 Northern Virginia Jewish Film Festival
    United States
    October 19, 2018
    Virginia Premiere
    Official Selection
  • 2018 Community Stories Festival
    Washington, DC
    United States
    November 12, 2018
    Official Selection
  • Docs in the City sponsored by the Washington Jewish Film Festival & Docs in Progress
    Washington, DC
    United States
    August 6, 2017
    Curated work-in-progress screening
  • San Luis Obispo Jewish Film Festival
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    United States
    January 6, 2019
    Official Selection
  • Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival
    Boynton Beach, FL
    United States
    February 6, 2019
    Official Selection
  • Locavore Film Series
    Arlington, VA
    United States
    February 13, 2019
    Cinema 'n Drafthouse
    Official Selection
  • Sarasota-Manatee Jewish Film Festival
    Sarasota, FL
    United States
    Southwest Florida
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Bonnie Rich

Bonnie Rich is an award-winning director, writer and speaker who makes her feature documentary debut with Life is Rich. Bonnie spent most of her career working in higher education as an academic administrator and creative director. But after her daughters graduated college and were pursuing their dreams, Bonnie dared to reimagine her own life. Her marriage of twenty-plus years was humming along swimmingly, so she left her job instead.

Always in pursuit of a funny story, Bonnie went off-the-grid to a yoga teacher training, performed improv, searched for her Jewish soul and picked up her camera to capture it all. She believes in the motto, “Pain + time + matzo ball soup = comedy.” Currently, she’s collaborating with her daughter, Leah, on a series of digital shorts and a road show. Bonnie’s mission is to promote an appreciation of family through storytelling, conversation and laughter.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Since my kids were young and willing, I’ve been casting them in my short, funny films. One of our family classics is HANSOLO AND GRETEL—created during a family trip to the woods of West Virginia. LIFE IS RICH is my first film to hit theaters. My initial inspiration was a desire to share my grandfather's oral history with my daughters. They never met him, and I wanted them to experience how his love of Judaism is intertwined with his story of immigrating to America.

Back in early 1970’s, my mother sat down with my grandfather—Zayde Abe—and a cassette recorder to capture his story. In a heavy Yiddish accent, he told of his childhood growing up in a farming village in Russia. Synagogue was the center of his life, and he was heartbroken when the Bolsheviks shut it down in 1920. Soon after, his family escaped to America.

As I delved into Zayde Abe’s story, I also found myself talking to my 20-something daughters about their connection to Judaism. One day, as we discussed the religious obligation of Judaism, I half-jokingly asked, “You’re going to raise my future grandchildren Jewish, right?” No one was pregnant. I’m just a planner. First, there was dead silence. Then my daughters looked at each other and gently said, “Religion doesn’t seem relevant.” That shook me. It made me look at my own connection to Judaism. I realized I had been on Jewish autopilot for years. How could I find a path to love Judaism the way my zayde did? And how could I drag my daughters along with me?

I searched for meaningful ways to connect to Judaism, while attempting to force each joyful discovery on my daughters. And I filmed it all. And so, while I still don’t have grandchildren, LIFE IS RICH was born.

My hope is others can laugh and learn from my missteps, and my successes. And that the film can start conversations across generations, build community, and maybe, get you to call your mother.