The SF Jewish Film Festival turns 36 (double chai)

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival turns 36 this year with 68 films (more than 50 of them features) from 16 countries. The films and presentations include comedies from Argentina and California, several coming-of-age dramas–including one about an Iranian family in Israel, a new TV series from the creator of Arab Labor, a Freedom of Expression award for Norman Lear, and documentaries about Holocaust humor, gay marriage, Goebbels’ secretary, the Israeli peace movement, comedian Robert Klein, and Leonard Nimoy.

The number 36 is significant in Judaism, because it’s a double 18. The number 18 is significant in Judaism because it’s associated with the Hebrew word for life, chai. (It’s spelled, but not pronounced, like the Indian tea. The ch is pronounced as in Bach.)

I’m Jewish, which pretty much makes this my favorite of the Bay Area’s many identity film festivals. Here are some festival screenings and events that look intriguing to me:

  • Freedom of Expression Award: This year the award goes to television pioneer
    Norman Lear, the man who brought controversy to prime time as the
    creator of All in the Family. The event will include a screening of the documentary Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You.
  • The Writer: Sayed Kashua, the Israeli Arab creator of Arab Labor has a new TV series–this time a drama. As with his sitcom, it focuses on an Arab writer with an identity crisis.

  • The Last Laugh: Can we laugh at the holocaust? Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, and other Jewish comedians consider the topic.
  • Sand Storm: A family relationship drama set in a Bedouin village in Israel.
  • For The Love of Spock: Director Adam Nimoy examines the life of his father, who created one of the most iconic characters in TV history, Mr. Spock.
  • Origin of Violence: A historian studying the Holocaust comes upon a photo suggesting something hidden in his family’s history.

I’ll tell you more about movies I have seen after I’ve seen enough of them.