The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival claims to be the oldest and largest Jewish film festival in the world. And at 34, it may also be the oldest film festival geared to a particular ethnicity.
Since I am personally of that ethnicity, this festival catches my attention more than the others. Which explains why I’m not writing a similar article on the Japan Film Festival of San Francisco (although I’d do that too if I had the time).
Unfortunately, I was fighting a cold Tuesday (still am), so I missed the press conference. But I have various press releases in front of me, so I’ll try to give you an overview.
The Festival runs from July 24 through August 10 at various locations around the Bay Area. For instance, it runs in San Francisco from opening night to August 3rd, but plays Berkeley August 1 – 7. Other venues are in Oakland, Palo Alto, and San Rafael–eight theaters in all.
It will screen 49 features, more than half of them documentaries, as well as 18 shorts.
This year, the Freedom of Expression Award goes to actor (and, according to the press release, activist) Theodore Bikel. His award ceremony will include a screening of a new documentary, Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholem Aleichem.
Another of those documentaries, The Green Prince, opens the festival. It’s the story of a Palestinian fighter who is captured by the Israeli government and turned into a spy. From what I gather, it’s pretty much from the Israeli point of view, but I haven’t seen it so I’m not sure.
This year, there’s a spotlight on one of Judaism’s finest traditions: comedy. This includes two documentaries on the art of making people laugh: Quality Balls: The David Steinberg Story and Comedy Warriors. Among the comic features is an Israeli military farce called Zero Motivation.
In fact, there seems to be an unofficial focus on the Israeli military. God’s Slave is a thriller involving an Islamic terrorist and a Mossad agent in Buenos Aires.
I’m hoping to preview some of these films before the Festival opens. Stay tuned.