Although it did start with the inevitable reserved seating problem. The whole front half of the theater was cordoned off for VIPs. Luckily, I convinced a volunteer usher that as press, I counted as a VIP, so I was able to sit in my preferred 3rd row center seat. Not that I was stealing that seat from a worthier person. For most of the film, I was the only person in the front three rows.
The show started soon after the official 6:15 starting time with a series of past Jewish Film Festival trailers. The last trailer, of course, was this year’s, and its’ one of the best.
The talking started at 6:23. SFJFF officers discussed the history of the Festival, the organization’s new name–the Jewish Film Institute–and their video-on-demand service. We were told that people under 35 can buy a festival pass for $35 (it doesn’t cover the big nights). We heard about other films coming up. And the director of this year’s film, John Goldschimdt, was introduced and talked briefly.
The movie started at 6:46. Not bad.
And the film itself? Not bad.
This feel-good comedy succeeds in making you laugh and in making you feel good. Why not? The marijuana-laced challah makes the onscreen characters laugh and feel good. You have to suspend a lot of disbelief to accept the absurdities of the story and the conventional comic tropes, but if you do you can sit back and enjoy the movie. The story involves an orthodox kosher baker (Jonathan Pryce) who hires a Muslim, African refugee teenager (newcomer Jerome Holder) as his apprentice. And of course they bond while the bakery thrives. It’s a movie.
Dough will play three more times at the festival:
- CineArts, Sunday, July 26, 3:55
- California, Wednesday, August 5, 6:30
- Rafael, Sunday, August 9, 6:20
This British film may get an American theatrical release, although as near as I can tell, it has not yet been picked up my a distributor.
After the film, director Goldschimdt and star Holder came on stage for a Q&A. It happened to be Holder’s 21st birthday, and he was presented with a cake.
- How did you (Holder) get involved? “I got called in to come in, and I did and audition with Jonathan Pryce. I’d done a bit of TV work. This is my big break.”
- On playing a character from Darfur (out of character, Holder speaks with a London accent): It came to me just speaking to people in that circle.
- Goldschimdt: “We shot 60 percent of the film in Budapest. It was a very good experience.”
- On casting Holder: “When you look at a video, you can see who the camera likes best.” He brought Pryce into the auditions to make sure they had chemistry together.
- Holder: “It was the best 10 or 11 weeks of my life.”
After the show, I went to the opening night party at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The current exhibit on Any Winehouse was open for us. There was plenty of good food, but alas, no marijuana-laced challah.