My last previews for the SF Jewish Film Fest (this year)

Here are four movies that I’ve seen but you haven’t. You’ll be able to see them soon. They’re all playing in this year’s San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (July 21 – August 7). Amazingly, all four are good.

I can’t say the same for all the films I reviewed for this festival. I gave one movie a D. If you want to read all of my reviews for this fest, go to The SF Jewish Film Fest is coming soon and More SF Jewish Film Festival reviews.

For now, I’m not even going to think about Jewish films until the festival opens.

A Farewell, Mr. Haffmann

Centerpiece Narrative! Here’s a Holocaust story that focuses on those who hid Jews. When the Nazis take Paris, the brilliant Jeweler Joseph Haffmann, who’s Jewish, hides in his store’s basement while a former apprentice becomes the owner. Haffmann still creates beautiful work, but now it’s mostly bought by German officers. But relations between the two men turn raw. To make things worse, the apprentice’s wife desperately wants a child, and seems to do anything to get one. All three main characters are caught in their own mistakes as the evil government looks over everyone.

  • Castro, Saturday July 23, 8:30pm

A- Repairing the World: Stories from the Tree of Life

Here’s a documentary that may bring you to tears. It’s not so much about the carnage at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, but what happened afterward. According to the film, Blacks, Moslems, and white Christians came together to help their Jewish friends. But anti-Semitism and other bigotries must be delt with, and the film shows how these evils grow. Despite the early scenes of overall tolerance, the film doesn’t whitewash the city. We learn that a Black woman in Pittsburgh could raise her standard of living by simply going to any other American city.

B+ Lost Transport

In the last days of the Third Reich, three young, very different women struggle for food and normality. Simone, a Dutch Jew just out of Bergen-Belsen, struggles to keep her sick husband alive through a typhus epidemic. Vera is a Russian sniper with a tough shell and a soft heart. Then there’s Winnie, a teenager who has never known anything but National Socialist propaganda – her wallpaper has swastikas. One problem: Simone doesn’t look like someone who just went from a concentration camp to a cattle train.

B+ Let It Be Morning

Closing Night! I thought this would be a satire, but it’s a much more serious film than that. Sami, a Jerusalem Arab, is climbing the executive ladder in a major Israeli business; we’re told no other Arab has got so far in an Israeli company. But when he enters the West Bank for his brother’s wedding, he discovers that he can’t go home – or to the office. There’s a military lockdown that could ruin his career.

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