The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival officially announced its 33rd run this morning. Probably the largest of all the "identity film festivals" in the area, it will play five venues around the Bay Area from July 25 through August 12.
This year’s theme, "Life through a Jew(ish) lens," raises two questions: What does that mean and how do you pronounce parentheses in Jew(ish)? It means that the festival is inclusive–meant to attract all kinds of Jews, including those whom Executive Director Lexi Leban described as "guilty by association." And Jew(ish) is pronounced "Jew (pause) ish."
As usual, the festival will start at the Castro, and remain there for eight days. Then the festival will hop the Bay for a week in Berkeley. Shorter runs in Oakland, Palo Alto, and San Rafael will round it out.
For the third time in its history, the Festival is moving its Berkeley location, and this time, for the better. Rather than the Roda Theater, which is better designed for live performance than cinema, it will play the California’s large, downstairs auditorium–probably the best commercial movie house in Berkeley and certainly the largest. Other East Bay venues are the Piedmont, the New Parkway, and the Grand Lake.
Some highlights, categories (this festival loves to put films into categories), and promising titles:
- The San Francisco Centerpiece film, The Attack, looks promising. The protagonist, a Palestinian-Israeli surgeon, has his comfortable life turned upside-down when his missing wife is accused of terrorism.
- The JewTube category spotlights Israeli TV. It will include the pilot for the successful series Prisoners of War, followed by a discussion of how it was adopted into the American series Homeland. Also in this series–some episodes from Arab Labor: Season 4 (you can read what I thought of seasons 1, 2, and 3).
- And speaking of television, we’ll also get some episodes of the Canadian comedy series Kenny Hotz’s Triumph of the Will, not to be mistaken for Leni Riefenstahl’s original.
- Before the Revolution looks at Iranian Jews who had to escape that country in 1979. It will screen with a short about one Iranian Jew’s fascination with Jerry Lewis.
- Among the historical figures whose lives will be examined in narratives and documentaries, you’ll find works on Art Spiegelman, Hannah Arendt, Muhammad Ali, and Wilhelm Reich