SFJFF34 Film Festival TrailerThe 34th Annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is coming to the Bay Area! July 24th - August 10th at Bay Area theaters.
Check out the Festival line-up, special events and Festival guests, and purchase tickets at http://www.sfjff.org/
SFJFF 34 Presents: A Knock On The Door TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
The late Assi Dayan stars as a successful writer coerced at gunpoint to deliver a good story in this absurdist yarn based on an Etgar Keret short story.
SFJFF 34 Presents: 7 Day Gig TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
A punk, an old man and a chicken gather round for a makeshift shivah after Jay (a Romanian/Guamanian/Catholic/Jew) puts an ad on Craigslist looking for mourners to join him.
SFJFF 34 Presents: 24 Days TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
If a feature film were to be made about your family, you might hope it wouldn't be a tense police procedural. The Halimis, Parisian Jews of Moroccan descent, do not have that particular luxury. The 1986 kidnapping and torture of 24-year-old Ilan Halimi by a suburban gang called the Barbarians became a cause célèbre after the fact because of the nature of the crime. This retelling, featuring a top-notch cast (Pascal Elbé), focuses in on the panicked and grieving family; the police team whose efforts are increasingly stymied by their assumptions; and the ransom calls that are the detectives' only clue to the kidnappers' psychology. Ruth Halimi has another clue, one that the authorities are slow, too slow, to recognize: The kidnappers targeted her hapless son as a Jew, on the assumption that Jews have money. Veteran French director Alexandre Arcady is himself an Algerian-born Jew who emigrated at the age of 15. In his skilled hands this story based on Ruth Halimi's book gains not only gravity—the inexorable pull of expert craftsmanship as the crime and its multifarious impact unfold—but gravitas, in the director's understanding of both the intimate horror and the larger meaning of the act.
SFJFF 34 Presents: A Life In Dirty Movies TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
A Life in Dirty Movies is a love story about legendary sexploitation director Joe Sarno, "the Ingmar Bergman of 42nd Street," and his loyal wife and collaborator Peggy. The doc follows the Sarnos for a year, as 88-year-old Joe struggles to get a new film project off the ground, a female-centric softcore film that harkens back to the style of his heyday as a filmmaker in the 1960s. As audiences tag along for the eventful and often hilarious journey between wintery Manhattan and the couple's summer retreat in Sweden, the film's intimate perspective reveals a filmmaker on the verge of being rediscovered in his golden years. The film takes a look back at the evolution of softcore films, which were seen as racy in their day, and how they evolved into unmistakable hardcore porn that all but put Sarno and his filmmaking style out of business. The film chronicles Sarno's significant place in film history as an erotic "auteur," whose ambitions as a filmmaker often surpassed the needs of the genre he helped define. Interviews with various critics and director John Waters are interspersed throughout. A Life in Dirty Movies is a clever and sincere portrait of a unique couple who follow their passion in life, onscreen and off.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Anywhere Else TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
A graduate student in Berlin, Noa seems to be on the right track: She has almost completed her thesis and has just moved in with her German musician boyfriend, Jörg. But when her grant application is turned down, and her advisor deems her project—a dictionary of words that defy translation—unsuitable, all the pressures of living in a foreign country far away from her native Israel are too much for the already stressed-out Noa to handle. With Jörg out of town for an audition, Noa spontaneously decides to fly home to surprise her family, a convenient escape from her real-world problems. But although she's happy to see her family, especially her sweet bubbe, being back in Israel and dealing with her overbearing mother (famed Israeli comedian Hana Laszlo) and disapproving sister isn't exactly the relaxing getaway she had hoped for, and soon the feeling of being misunderstood and out of place creeps back. When Jörg turns up unexpectedly in Israel and meets her family for the first time, Noa's carefully separated worlds collide, with hilarious and illuminating results. Director Ester Amrami's prize-winning first feature, Anywhere Else is an endearing film about family, home, the feeling of being lost in translation and ultimately finding your place somewhere in between.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Arabani TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
After his marriage to a Jewish Israeli woman dissolves, Yosef returns to his mother's home in a Druze village with his two teenagers in tow. Director Adi Adwan, a native of Daliyat el-Carmel (near Haifa), offers an intimate glimpse into the type of insular and tradition-bound community he grew up in. The Druze adhere to a cohesive theology that emphasizes unity. From his neighbors' perspective, Yosef committed a grave transgression when he left the village, and their reaction to his return is chilly at best. After his family home is vandalized with threatening graffiti and his mother is expelled from her place of worship, Yosef is forced to decide whether he can safely stay in his hometown. A tale about the disturbing effects that closed cultures have on individual lives, Arabani is enlivened by the breakthrough performances of its unknown cast. Daniella Niddam conveys quiet strength as Yosef's lovely daughter Smadar, who turns heads with her decidedly modern ways, and Zuhaira Sabbagh does a flawless job of conveying the inner turmoil of a mother forced to choose between her faith and her family.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Arlo&Julie TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
An official selection of this year's SXSW festival, this sweet and quirky romantic comedy from writer/director Steve Mims has a rare quality too many Hollywood comedies lack: a story arc without a formula, and an ending that's as deeply satisfying as it is a fun surprise. Arlo and Julie are a content young couple adrift in Austin. If the actors seem like naturals for their parts, it's because Mims wrote the script with them in mind. Sleepy-eyed Alex makes for a convincingly bored computer programmer and aspiring historian, while pixie-esque Ashley is perfect as Arlo's spunky girlfriend, a waitress biding her time, with lessening patience, for him to finally get a life. One day, Julie receives a package in the mail, from an unknown address in Mexico, containing two pieces from the same jigsaw puzzle. Then another package comes from the same address, containing four more pieces. As the packages keep coming, at first they gladly distract themselves from their frustrations by putting the pieces together. But the mystery only deepens. Soon their quest becomes an obsession that threatens to upend their lives. The result is an uplifting, surprisingly moving exploration of art and history, love, trust and faith.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Beginning With The End TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
First period: Algebra; second period: American History; third period: Hospice Care. If you are a student at the Harley School in Rochester, New York, this class schedule is not unusual. For 10 years, English teacher Bob Kane has offered Harley Hospice Corps as an elective for high school seniors wishing to comfort people at the end of their lives, whether by helping them bathe and get dressed or by simply sitting with them to listen to their stories. What might an iPhone-toting teenager have in common with an 85-year-old too weak to lift up a hand? Three-time Emmy-winning director Dave Marshall provides plenty of answers in this moving documentary about human connection, a film as earnest as it is openhearted. Marshall's patient lens catches the subtle transformations of a face, whether of a dying woman looking back on her life or the girl who sits beside her, her own young expression just as vulnerable. "These people are very lovely," and "are going to be here for a short time," remarks a wise, soft-spoken student on whom one of the elderly hospice residents develops a "crush." This film's glimpses into lives both young and old may be brief, but their grace lingers.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Bulletproof Stockings TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Perl and Dalia have come together to pursue their passion for music and form a band, Bulletproof Stockings. They also happen to be the first-ever Hasidic alternative-rock girl band.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Comedy Warriors TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Five severely-injured Iraq/Afghanistan veterans bring their life-altering experiences onstage, transforming personal tragedy into brutal and fiercely funny stand-up gold, mentored by some of the most talented comedy performers and writers in show business. Burn survivor Bobby ("I've been extinguished for years") Henline, amputees Rob Jones, Stephen Rice, Joe Kashnow and a very pregnant former helicopter pilot with a debilitating back injury, Darisse Smith, learn the fine art of joke telling and timing from mirth masters Bob Saget, Zach Galifianakis, B.J. Novak, and Lewis Black. With only a short time to rehearse, the five are flown from all around the U.S. out to Hollywood for a one night stands at top Los Angeles comedy clubs, the Laugh Factory and the IMPROV. The crash course prep, with the pros guiding the raw comedy recruits through a raucous, and occasionally raunchy, run-through of material (Saget to amputee Kashnow: "You have a leg up on a lot of people right now because you're Jewish.") is one of the doc's hilarious high points. The climatic live show finds the Comedy Warriors not only comprehending the healing and highly addictive power of humor, but quite suddenly discovering that their lives are about to take a very unexpected direction.
SFJFF 34 Presents: El Critico TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Víctor Tellez (Rafael Spregelburd) is jaded, emotionally repressed and arrogant. Not surprisingly, he is an influential but harsh film critic for a daily newspaper who sees his life as a French New Wave film to the extent that he even thinks in French. Víctor especially detests Hollywood romantic comedies. He spends his time watching and writing about films and then discussing them contemptuously with his nerdy colleagues at a local bar. One day while searching for a new apartment, he unexpectedly meets Sofía, a spontaneous and vibrant woman in town for her father's unveiling. She clearly does not fit with his conception of good taste. "Elemental, constructed on a basis of clichés," would be the way he would describe her. Although an unlikely pair, life seems to keep bringing them together. Víctor finds himself going soft and his movie reviews reflect this. He suspects that the movie genre that he hates the most is taking its revenge. El Critico is a film for cinefiles and romantics. It is intelligent, funny, delightful and ultimately succumbs to the genre its main character so derisively abhors. Love conquers all, even this cynical snob.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Facing Fear TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
As a 13-year-old, Matthew Boger was thrown out of his home for being gay. While living on the streets of Hollywood, he was savagely beaten in a back alley by a group of neo-Nazis. Twenty-five years later, Boger finds himself in a chance meeting with the same neo-Nazi.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Father and Son TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Marcel Lozinksi survived World War II by living in a children's shelter in Paris as his parents sought to escape the Nazis. He went on to become an award-winning documentarian with almost two dozen films to his credit. In 1989, Lozinksi was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for 89mm from Europe, a film about political, cultural and psychological borders. In Father and Son, Lozinski revisits some of these same themes by taking a road trip with his son, Pawel, also a successful documentary filmmaker. In this case, the mode of transportation is a VW camper van that they use to transit across central Europe from Poland to France so that can Marcel can revisit some of his childhood haunts and commune with the spirit of his deceased mother. In this case, however, the borders explored are those that separate childhood from adulthood and the role of father from that of son. Filled with memorable cinematography and seamlessly edited, this is a moving, intimate film that you won't soon forget.
SFJFF 34 Presents: For A Woman TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
The Second World War imposed a shared fate on Europe's Jews, but the postwar scattering made for thousands of individual stories, real and imagined. Diane Kurys's (Peppermint Soda, Entre Nous,) latest venture is both—real and imagined—as she mines her autobiography to fictionalize the early years of her parents' marriage, a mysterious uncle of whom nobody speaks and the circumstances of her birth. Intimacy is the key to Kurys's novelistic framing of the couple in whose world she found "a space to grow up in." In a corner of Lyon, France, in 1945, Michel (Benoit Magimel), a Ukrainian-born French Jew, embodies the spirit of the moment: an ardent Communist Party member, he nevertheless has dreams that include a car for him and a refrigerator for his bride Lena (Melanie Thierry). She was barely out of her teens when they met in a camp but the pressures of freedom cannot sustain a love born of imprisonment and escape. The unexpected arrival of Michel's brother Jean, thought to have died, brings with it reminders of the recent horrors that Michel prefers to push away, and a way out to which Lena is drawn. Women, too, feel the pull of a new world—however ill defined, however inconvenient.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Funeral At Noon TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
A Hitchcockian atmosphere of menace envelops the dusty 1950s moshav portrayed in Israeli director Adam Sanderson's second feature. Hagar is a waifish housewife rendered all but mute by the stifling daily routine of her passionless marriage. Hagar's only escape is wandering through the mazelike ruins that lie just beyond the settlement and spying on the rebellious soldier who often appears there. Hagar shares her secret ritual with a watchful boy who lives next door with his burned-out mother named Sarah (in a stylized wink at the biblical story), and her loneliness is assuaged for a brief time. Sanderson—the son of singer/songwriter Danny Sanderson of Kaveret fame—casts a hypnotic spell. Funeral at Noon is a smoldering, elegantly shot and thoroughly unpredictable psychological thriller. Lead actress Hilla Vidor, a former model, is convincingly inscrutable, hinting at hidden motivations and dark secrets that may have eluded the eye of the beholder.
SFJFF 34 Presents: God's Slave TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Buenos Aires, 1994. Ahmed, a committed young Kuwaiti martyr for Islam, works as a successful surgeon. Intense and brooding, Ahmed (César Troncoso in a restrained, potent performance) works stoically through his day at the hospital. His real peace and happiness come from spending time with his loving wife and young son. However, destiny demands that he carry out an attack for Islam, and the inevitable day of his obligation arrives. Meanwhile, David (Vando Villamil in a powerful, heroic performance), a cold-blooded, embittered Mossad agent, has also been dispatched to Buenos Aires. He has memorized the name and headshot of every member of the radical jihadi organization and is waiting intently for the opportunity to exact some very personal revenge. In his feature debut, director Joel Novoa offers up a pulse-pounding political thriller, a riveting adrenaline rush of imminent violence and deeply emotional confrontations that raise larger issues about social relations. With a terse, crackling script by Fernando Butazzoni, God's Slave pits two determined men against one another, crossing paths in the aftermath of the real-life bombings in Buenos Aries that same year against the Jewish community.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Above and Beyond TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
This gripping documentary unfolds like The Great Escape, a true-life wartime adventure story. In 1948, as the British withdrew from Palestine, and five Arab nations prepared to invade Israel, a ragtag group of young men from around the globe volunteered to defend the new country. Called Machal, or volunteers from abroad, many were World War II veterans from the US. Because of an embargo imposed by the Truman administration, Americans risked losing their citizenship by joining the fight. Produced by Nancy Spielberg, younger sister to Steven, this film celebrates the pilots who laid the foundation for the Israeli Air Force. It combines extraordinary archival footage and interviews with scholars, survivors and their descendants. Interviewees range from Shimon Perez to Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman), whose father Milton Rubenfeld flew combat missions. The bravery of these volunteers was incredible. The only aircraft available to them were American and German jets junked after the war, constantly liable to deadly mechanical failure. Amenities were equally scarce (many had to make do with discarded Nazi flight suits.) Despite their shoddy equipment, they exercised enough skill and trickery to persuade the invaders that their small squadron posed a far bigger threat than it really did, helping turn the tide of the war.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Hanna's Journey TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Ambitious Berliner Hanna decides that if she is going to succeed in business, she will need some volunteer service on her resume. She heads to Israel to work with disabled Jews, cynically explaining to her boyfriend that, if you're German, "helping Jews always gets you points, and disabled Jews count double." Itay, the Israeli social worker supervising Hanna's volunteer work, cracks jokes about German guilt while openly flirting with her. She resists at first, but soon finds herself drawn to him. Probing the effects of the Holocaust's looming shadow on third generation Israelis and Germans, the film deftly weaves the personal and the political, illustrating how they are inextricably linked. Karoline Schuch is wonderfully expressive as Hanna, struggling to maintain her confidence as she's forced to question all she thought she knew about herself and her estranged mother, who has been harboring a long held secret. Doron Amit plays Itay with tenderness and ease, holding up a mirror for Hanna just when she needs it most.
SFJFF 34 Presents: 10%- What Makes a Hero? TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Checkpoint (SFJFF 2004) and Defamation (SFJFF 2009) established Israeli documentarian Yoav Shamir as an unapologetic provocateur. It's no surprise then that American rabble-rouser Michael Moore signed on to executive produce the Tel Aviv--based filmmaker's newest film, a globetrotting quest to identify the shared characteristics of heroic individuals. Following the bubbling streams of his consciousness, Shamir pays a visit to the bonobos in the Congo, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, a Stanford neuroscience lab, the suburban home of a Flemish woman whose family harbored Jews during World War II and the military-controled sea space near Gaza. Shamir establishes himself as a vulnerable everyman, troubled by the uncertainty of how he would have acted had he come of age in Nazi Germany, or whether he'd be brave enough to rescue a person who tumbled onto the subway tracks. Shifting from self-deprecating humor to genuine curiosity, from befuddled detachment to heartfelt yearning, 10% is fascinating, entertaining and affecting, the type of movie that sparks thoughtful conversation and passionate debate.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Welcome And Our Condolences TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
It's 1991. Twelve-year-old Misha is documenting his Russian family's journey to Israel on a home video camera. The already traumatic immigration experience is amped up to absurd proportions when the family's elderly aunt dies on the plane just before they reach the land of their ancestors.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Watchers Of The Sky TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Making a film about the persistent scourge of genocide in our time might seem like a deeply depressing undertaking, but in Watchers of the Sky, MacArthur Award--winning documentarian Edet Belzberg creates an illuminating and visually eloquent journey into this darkest corner of human depravity, using as a framework the extraordinary life of a nearly forgotten Polish Jewish lawyer and human rights advocate: Raphael Lemkin (1900--1959). As a young student, Lemkin had been appalled by the impunity that greeted the mass murder of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. "Why is the killing of a million," he wrote, "a lesser crime than the killing of an individual?" He set about his life's task of creating an international legal framework for preventing and prosecuting such "barbarity" (the word he used until he came up with a new term, "genocide") in 1944, by which time his family had already become victims of the Nazis' form of the practice. The documentary skillfully interweaves Lemkin's story, exquisitely rendering imagery and prose into evocative animations, with profiles of four contemporary human rights advocates at the International Criminal Court and the United Nations, including US Ambassador Samantha Power, whose Pulitzer Prize--winning A Problem from Hell helped inspire this exceptional and moving film.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Transit TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
It has been estimated that there are nearly 100,000 Filipinos currently working in Israel, around 30,000 of whom are doing so without proper documentation. In 2009, the government instituted tough changes in the citizenship status of foreign workers. Any child under the age of five now faces deportation. From this situation, director Hannah Espia and screenwriter Giancarlo Abrahan have crafted a troubling and deeply moving story of Filipino workers in Tel Aviv who scrape by at odd jobs, constantly on the lookout for police and immigration officers. Janet (Irma Adlawan) is a weary single mother dreading a knock at the door that might bring questions about her half-Israeli daughter Yael (Jasmine Curtis) and her brother's four-year-old son, Joshua. When Janet's close friend Tina (Mercedes Cabral) gets pregnant complicating the already cramped situation, her brother Moises (Ping Medina) must take young Joshua into hiding. Espia's multilayered depiction of life on the run captures the edgy plight of thousands of Filipinos, many of whom have known only Israel as home and whose children can speak only Hebrew. The film's poignant finale, a wide-eyed Joshua chanting the Torah while surrounded by police, gives an eloquent voice to millions of displaced individuals who wonder where exactly they should call home.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Touchdown Israel TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Flash quiz: name a Jewish pro football player. Stumped? No wonder, there have been precious few. So Israel is the last place you would expect the corn-fed, Friday Night Lights tradition of American football to catch on. But don't tell that to the passionate players and coaches in the 11-team Israel Football League, who play for nothing but pride and have had to endure years of matches played on woefully short soccer fields, under bad lighting, with no locker rooms, in front of an indifferent public. Touchdown Israel is a surprising look at how the gridiron sport has found an unlikely toehold in the Holy Land. Initially imported in the 1990s by American-born Israelis who deeply missed the scrimmages of their youth, American football in Israel has had to counter not only the vastly more popular appeal of soccer and basketball, but legions of Jewish mothers worried about their grown sons' injuries. As league macher Steve Leibowitz claims, "Jewish mothers somehow don't get it, it's nice to be bruised." But the documentary has serious points to make as well, as it examines the Jewish-Arab camaraderie (and occasional tensions) within the multiethnic lineup of the Tel Aviv--Jaffa Sabres, as well as the controversial "bad boy" profile of the Judean Rebels, a team composed largely of West Bank settlers. Some rivalries go deeper than sports.
SFJFF 34 Presents: The Village Of Peace TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Sam Schuder met Shaleem Edwards when the two were teenagers in Oakland, California. In 2010, Sam and his brother Ben traveled to Israel to visit Shaleem in his hometown of Dimona in the Negev desert where they discovered the Village of Peace, a thriving community of about 5,000 persons who refer to themselves as African-Hebrew Israelites. Filmmakers Ben Schuder and Niko Philipides take us inside the village to hear the stories of four of its founders as they describe their epic two-year journey to Israel from Chicago in 1967. As observers and participants in the Civil Rights Movement, they took the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "mountaintop" speech quite literally and embarked upon an exodus that would lead them to the Promised Land that King envisioned. Inspired by the teachings of the Torah and the desire to live life in its purest form, they have mandated a life that includes polygamy, natural birth, veganism and a rigorous adherence to physical and emotional health.
SFJFF 34 Presents: The Sturgeon Queens TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
If you are an aficianado of smoked fish and you live in New York City, then you are most likely aware of Russ & Daughters. If not, you may become one after seeing this delightful and delectable documentary. This venerable establishment has been selling fish since 1914 and is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Anchoring the film is 100-year-old Hattie Russ Gold and 92-year-old Anne Russ Federman, the daughters of the store's name and the sturgeon queens of the title. These two live wires reflect on the immigrant experience and their lives behind the counter. The playful banter between them is quite endearing. Well-known enthusiasts of the store are interviewed (with their favorite fish highlighted). They include Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, chef Mario Batali, New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin, and 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer. In a creative and innovative manner, filmmaker Julie Cohen also brings together six colorful longtime fans of the store, in their 80s and 90s, who sit around a table of fish reading the narration script in the style of a Passover seder. Regardless how you enter the screening, after seeing this humorous, heartfelt and mouthwatering film, you will certainly leave with an appetite.
SFJFF 34 Presents: The Starfish Throwers TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Three inspiring people from different corners of the world tackle the same global issue: hunger. At the age of nine, Katie planted a single cabbage seed and created a national movement with over 50 gardens producing food for the hungry. Narayanan was a top chef in India who gave it all up to prepare hundreds of meals for the poor every single day, rain or shine. Mr. Law is a retired teacher who sleeps for three hours a night in the front seat of his car so that he'll never miss an opportunity to hand out sandwiches on a cold winter night. From South Carolina to Minneapolis to India, the humanity of these extraordinary people is evident not only in the good they do, but in the emotional toll it takes on them, and the film's lush cinematography captures it all with poetic grace. They are The Starfish Throwers, who toss the stranded creatures back into the sea one by one, defying the cynicism of those around them, living and breathing the wisdom that we are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are we free to desist from it.
SFJFF 34 Presents: The Last Mentsch TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Born Mena'hem Teitelbaum, Marcus Schwarz has denied his Jewish heritage all his life. After surviving the horrors of Auschwitz, he sought to forget the trauma by creating a new identity for himself in Germany, one without Jewish friends or ties. Now faced with his own mortality, he suddenly decides he wants to be buried in a Jewish cemetery. But much to his dismay, his word is not enough for the rabbis; he must prove that he is, in fact, Jewish. But with all his family gone and no remaining records, he has no evidence, save for the faded tattoo on his forearm. Marcus's only hope is to return to the Hungarian village he grew up in to try to find proof of his birth. Needing a way to get there, he enlists a young Turkish woman to drive him. The unlikely duo—a sullen chain smoker and a gruff old man—set out on a road trip across Europe that will end up irrevocably changing them both. Award-winning documentarian Pierre-Henri Salfati's foray into feature narrative filmmaking is a thoughtfully rendered story of friendship and healing, with nuanced performances including a turn by renowned German actor Mario Adorf as the hardened yet lovable Marcus. Poignant, funny and deeply moving, The Last Mentsch is a powerful, emotional journey.
SFJFF 34 Presents: The Green Prince TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Based on Yousef's memoir, Son of Hamas, The Green Prince is a story of two men, spy and handler, whom history insists must be adversaries. That they could reach a point of trust or friendship seems absurd. Embroidering a tangled web of intrigue, terror, and betrayal, Nadav Schirman builds superb tension throughout a surprisingly emotional journey. Ultimately, The Green Prince is less about political struggle than personal coming-to-terms with responsibility and moral duty.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Swin Little Fish Swim TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Writer/directors Ruben Amar and Lola Bessis's first feature (and her striking acting debut as Lilas) is a heartfelt film about the struggle between creative exploration and responsible adulthood. With its intimate, low-fi cinematography, improvised dialogue and the quirky tunes of musicians Toys and Tiny Instruments standing in for Leeward's one-man band, Swim Little Fish Swim has echoes of Once, Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture and John Cassavetes' Shadows. The result is a fresh, modern take on New York City's vibrant world through the eyes of two talented emerging filmmakers.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Tzniut TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
A Hasidic woman in Brooklyn discovers she has an STD. Although limited by her social standing in a deeply orthodox community, she seeks the origin of her illness.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Shtisel TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
A shy and introspective man, Akiva is the youngest of the Shtisel family. He lives at home with his father Shulem, a rabbi at the local yeshiva in Jerusalem where Akiva takes a substitute teaching job. His father is anxious for him to marry (a nice Jewish girl, of course), but still mourning the passing of his mother, the socially awkward Akiva is hesitant. That is, until he meets the enigmatic Elisheva, the twice-widowed mother of one of his students. And that's the point of departure for the popular Israeli TV drama Shtisel, the story of the multigenerational Shtisel family as they deal with universal problems of love, loss and relationships. What makes them different is that the Shtisels happen to be haredim, ultra-religious Jews. SFJFF presents the first three episodes of this award-winning series that has hooked viewers—religious and secular alike— worldwide with its stylish production values, great acting (it stars Michael Aloni, Out in the Dark, SFJFF 2013) and well-crafted scripts. Shot on location in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood, Shtisel is a faithful portrayal of haredi life, offering a fascinating glimpse into a tight-knit religious community, with compelling characters and story lines recounted with such heartfelt emotion and humor that you will want to see every episode.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Regarding Susan Sontag TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
With textured imagery, an evocative sound track and stories from friends, family and lovers, Regarding Susan Sontag explores the life of one of the most important writers thinkers of our time. There are few things in life that are sexier than a woman who is both beautiful and smart. Sontag's activism and groundbreaking essays put her in the spotlight. She protested McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, and in the 1990s she went to Sarajevo. Her books about war, photography, "camp", illness, human rights, and 9/11 made her an intellectual celebrity. But Nancy Kates's riveting and intimate portrait goes beyond the celebrity. It examines Sontag's work, her marriage and relationships with women, her Jewish and queer identity and her love of life. Actress Patricia Clarkson masterfully reads excerpts from Sontag's essays and personal diaries. We learn that books were Sontag's "household deities,", her "spaceships." Becoming a writer was like "enlisting in an army of saints." From In "Notes on Camp," Sontag writes, "Tthe two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." A mouthful, but a delicious one. Ultimately, this is a film about a woman who lived life with a passionate vehemence. It makes us feel the pulse of that life and reminds us to embrace our own.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Natan TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Why is Bernard Natan not remembered as one of the true giants of French cinema, and how has he come to be forgotten? The extraordinary documentary Natan by David Cairns and Paul Duane provides some answers to this puzzle. Natan was a Romanian Jew who fought for France in World War I and eventually headed Pathé studios. Under his leadership, Pathé made some of its greatest silent films and became financially solvent. Natan brought television to France and pioneered the use of the anamorphic lens, sound, color, home viewing and widescreen projection. Yet French anti-Semites falsely accused him of getting his start in movies as a peddler of silent-era pornography, and this eventually led to his demise. His name has been left out of France's film history, and he eventually died forgotten in the Holocaust. Cairnes and Duane creatively combine this tragic history with a papier-mâché-headed performer playing Natan who comments on the proceedings and his fate. Sadly, some current film historians still claim that Natan was in these pornographic films, bringing the anti-Semitism of the last century back to life.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Super Women TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
This intimate portrait follows the interwoven stories of a group of women who work the same shift as cashiers in an Israeli supermarket. In Super Women, delicate cinema verité style frames the layered relationships between subjects, most of whom are Russian immigrants living and working in Israel. Maya, educated and in her 60s, reminisces about the exciting and rewarding career she once held prior to emigrating from Russia. She does not allow herself to compare her current lifestyle with her previous one. Ella, a young newlywed, spends her work breaks longing to reunite with her husband, whom she hasn't seen in over a year. Marlene hopes to provide a greater quality of life for her two young children. Yulia battles the constant frustration of being caught in a cycle of low paying jobs, angry that she cannot afford to celebrate her son's bar mitzvah and certain that she cannot expand her family until she attains financial security. And Nella, a shift leader, is a matriarch of sorts who offers support on smoke breaks and acts as their representative to management, advocating for the best interests of the crew. Outstanding cinematography lures the viewer into the back rooms of the supermarket and on breaks with the employees, framing conversations about family, relationships, class and more.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Soft Vengeance TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Abby Ginzburg's powerful documentary begins with grainy video footage of the aftermath of the car bombing that nearly took the life of South African activist, writer and lawyer Albie Sachs. Sachs lost an arm and his sight in one eye following the 1988 attack carried out by South Africa's apartheid government. Most of Sachs's life mirrors his homeland's half-century struggle for racial equality. Born into a privileged Jewish family, Sachs was a teenager when he became a human rights advocate. Later, he became a lawyer defending both black and white South Africans against the country's repressive laws. It wasn't long before Sachs found himself locked up in solitary confinement as part of the racist regime's attempt to silence all dissent. Sachs spent the next quarter century in exile, returning to South Africa in the dramatic days that swept Nelson Mandela into power. Rather than spend his exile years plotting a violent takeover, Sachs had utilized his time to help draft the country's remarkably open and democratic constitution. Mandela subsequently named Sachs as one of the first members of his Constitutional Court. Ginzburg's inspiring chronicle highlights Sachs's lifelong pursuit of truth and reconciliation, which eventually led to a meeting with the man who planted the bomb that nearly killed him.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Snails In The Rain TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Brawny, square-jawed Boaz (Yoav Reuveni) is the object of desire to seemingly all who encounter him, from the women in his university classes to the hunky swimmer at the pool. It is the sweltering summer of 1989 in Tel Aviv, the linguistics student leads a rather subdued existence with his accommodating girlfriend, Noa (Moran Rosenblatt). But when intimate letters from a secret male admirer appear, a long-buried part of Boaz is ignited, and memories spring forth in lush, intimate flashbacks. Riddled with guilt, shame and a deeply internalized homophobia, Boaz both wildly anticipates and dreads his daily trips to the post office. As the letters mount, and Noa begins to suspect, Boaz's frustration bubbles to the surface, and small acts of violence grow in director Yariv Mozer's masterful first narrative feature. Mozer's documentary features have won international acclaim, and he deftly makes the transition to the narrative form by focusing intimately on the unique experiences of gay men in Israel. At its core, Snails in the Rain is the tale of two men, one onscreen and one accessible only through his aching prose, who live in a constant state of panic, anguish and joy as they battle their yearnings in a time and place that Mozer adeptly captures.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Salomea's Nose TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Salomea remembers the day her beloved brothers, Max and Karl, disfigured her and themselves for life. The Day of Tragedy, is what their mother called it, and blamed it on the fate of her children. Though fate and tragedy have a different meaning by the end of her tale. A tragicomedy about sibling rivalry, disfigurement and the pain that binds us. With Barbara Sukowa as the voice of Salomea.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Run Boy Run TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Srulik is running for his life. Literally. The eight-year-old Jewish boy flees the Nazis on foot as they hunt him and other Jews who have sought refuge in the forests of wartime Poland. His once happy family is now dead or dispersed, and to survive Srulik has to forage for food in the woods and sleep on the forest floor. Calling himself Jurek, he pretends to be a gentile who has been orphaned by the war. With this ruse he is welcomed into the homes of peasants and farmers to share a simple family meal and claim a spot in the barn or by the hearth. Run Boy Run, based on a true story, is a rare Holocaust narrative told exclusively through the eyes of a child. It chronicles Srulik's remarkable efforts to evade capture, ward off starvation and honor his father's desperate plea to survive at all costs but to never forget that he is a Jew. In the process, the film raises important questions regarding faith, identity and the source of the blind prejudice that turns so easily into dehumanizing hate. Run Boy Run is a remarkable testament to the human will to survive against all odds.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Quality Balls TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
If you've never heard of comedian and director David Steinberg—and even if you have—you'll be astonished at the scope of his career captured in this very funny biopic. It's hard to believe that the same man performed with Groucho Marx, made the most Tonight Show appearances of any comedian other than Bob Hope, appeared on Nixon's notorious "enemies list" and directed episodes of TV series like Seinfeld, Friends and Curb Your Enthusiasm. But Steinberg did all that and more. Born the son of a Russian Jewish rabbi in Winnipeg, he discovered a love of performing as the family ham and inherited a rabbinical knack for storytelling. In the 1950s at age 16, he left home to study at a yeshiva in Chicago where he came across the improvisational troupe Second City and quickly became a regular performer. There he developed his legendary sermons, comic monologues in the persona of a hapless reformed rabbi. Radical for the time, they dared to poke fun at God. (One sermon in 1968 contributed to the demise of the Smothers Brothers show.) But scandal never slowed the affable Steinberg, who genially recounts his adventures between clips and interviews with comedians he's inspired, like Jerry Seinfeld. You'll never think of Moses and the Burning Bush the same way again.
SFJFF 34 Presents: My Own Man TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Why do some men exude an air of quiet confidence while others appear indecisive and uncertain? Filmmaker David Sampliner wants to know. He is about to become a father for the first time, and that fact both excites and scares him. In particular, Sampliner is worried that he's not "man" enough to serve as his child's guardian and protector. He sees himself as too faltering and docile to be the kind of man he feels he needs to be, both for himself and his unborn child. In My Own Man, Sampliner probes the murky boundaries where the influences of nurture and nature on a person's character come together. Is it in his very nature to be meek and uncertain? Or was there some aspect of Sampliner's upbringing that set in motion early tendencies that became fixed patterns later in life? And, regardless of the explanation, is it too late to change? In My Own Man, Sampliner revisits his childhood in hopes of understanding the evolutionary arc of his character. In the meantime, we watch with fascination as he pushes far past his comfort zone to embrace challenges that he hopes will allow him to transcend his insecurities and finally become the man he longs to be.
SFJFF 34 Presents: My Favorite Neoconservative TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Yael Luttwak (SFJFF 2012 Filmmaker in Residence) returns home and turns her camera on her father, famed Department of Defense military strategist Edward Luttwak. The film offers a rare and complex glimpse of beltway politics through these political polar opposites.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Mamele TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
The joys of Yiddish cinema are served up to yet another generation in this beautifully restored print made for Mamele's 75th anniversary. The film retains its sparkling mix of humor, song and predictable pathos, always slyly undercut by the marvelous Molly Picon. She was a Yiddish Mary Martin. Ten years after her triumph in the stage version, Picon was able to pull off the role of the put-upon "little mother" Havele, who waits hand and foot on her many siblings and perpetually unemployed father (Max Bozyk) and in her spare time acts as matchmaker and advice central for the entire tenement. Though unappreciated by all (but us), Havele is increasingly self-aware and her jokes and songs begin to crystallize the film's overt portrayal of gender roles. One suspects that Mamele was quaint even in 1938, especially in the film version which is transposed in its setting from the stage play's Lower East Side to Lodz, Poland, director Joseph's Green's home town. Only in retrospect does its picture of Jewish life in Poland between the wars—replete with tenements and fancy cars, gangsters and yeshiva boys, sukkahs and supper clubs—become priceless. The filmmakers finished the edit just in time to leave Warsaw for more hospitable ground, but even they couldn't have known that they had created a relic of a lost world.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Magic Men TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Directed by Israeli filmmakers Guy Nattiv and Erez Tadmor (Strangers, SFJFF Opening Night 2008), this road trip comedy explores challenges of faith across generations. In modern-day Israel, an aging father and his middle-aged son have grown bitterly estranged over their beliefs. The father, Avraham (Makram Khoury, A Syrian Bride) is a Holocaust survivor from Greece, an amateur magician and virulent atheist who eats pork on the Sabbath with gusto. His son, Yehuda (Zohar Shtrauss, Eyes Wide Open) is his polar opposite, a Hasidic rapper who supports his equally devout wife and their rapidly growing family through his religious music in Jerusalem. Circumstances throw them together on a journey back to Greece, where Avraham searches for the man who saved him from the Germans during World War II and taught him magic tricks. The trip quickly takes unexpected turns as father and son confront all manner of roadblocks, from a beautiful Greek prostitute to a gang of neo-Nazis amid the chaos of the country's financial collapse. As they weave their way along the Adriatic coast, each one threatening to abandon the other, their arguing is punctured by unexpected moments of affection and humor. While the stunning coastal scenery and lively original score help cast a spell, it is Khoury's and Shtrauss's understated performances that give the film its real magic.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Little Horribles TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
If George Costanza and Murphy Brown had a baby, it would be named Amy York Rubin, the creator and star of Little Horribles, a darkly comedic web series that follows the poor decisions of a thirtysomething, self-indulgent lesbian in Los Angeles. Rubin started her career in politics, producing some of the first-ever viral political videos featuring friends and collaborators of the Upright Citizens Brigade. She went on to found the crowd-sourced based production company Barnacle Studios where she produced commercial, comedy and social change campaigns like the infamous Sarah Silverman's Indecent Proposal where Silverman offered lesbian sex to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in exchange for the $100 million he was giving to Mitt Romney to instead go to Obama. Little Horribles finds Amy exploring vehicular masturbation, minibar binge eating, Facebook stalking and other awkward yet all-too-true comedic mishaps. Hailed as one of the top ten web series of 2013 by Variety and called "the lesbian answer to Girls" by the Huffington Post, Little Horribles rips apart and laughs in the face of those painfully uncomfortable moments that no one wants to remember, but everyone does.
SFJFF 34 Presents: I'm A Mitzvah TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
A young American man spends one last night with his deceased friend while stranded in rural Mexico.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Hollow Land TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Solomon and Berta are two seekers who arrive, their treasured bathtub improbably in tow, in a seemingly sun-washed land that promises respite from their many journeys in this story about the eternal human search for a place to call home.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Havana Curveball TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
What does it mean to become a man on the occasion of your bar mitzvah? Why do some kids seemingly have all the material advantages simply due to the circumstances into which they were born? These are some of the questions with which Mica, the 13-year-old protagonist of the documentary Havana Curveball, wrestles as he embarks on a quest to deliver baseball gear to kids in Cuba as part of his bar mitzvah service project and his gratitude to the country that welcomed his grandfather during the Holocaust. Baseballs, bats, shoes and gloves are expensive luxuries difficult to acquire in Cuba due to the island nation's poverty, exacerbated by the US trade embargo. Part travelogue and part coming-of-age story, Havana Curveball, by Mica's parents (Bay Area filmmakers Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider, Return of Sarah's Daughters, SFJFF 1997), is a marvelously crafted tale that provides insights into the bizarre state of relations between the US and Cuba as well as the idealism of youth. Over a period of three years Mica struggles to make good on his promise. He finally gets to play ball with his Cuban contemporaries, visit the house where his grandfather lived as a child and experience the satisfactions and disappointments of playing benefactor to those less fortunate.
SFJFF 34 Presents: Setup, Punch TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
Showing that there is always a reason to laugh, stand-up comic Reuben Stein (Elijah Wood) does the most daring set of his life. The consequences will change his life forever.
SFJFF 34 Presents: 112 Weddings TrailerFor the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets and passes, visit us at: http://bit.ly/1yOrSZt
For 20 years Doug Block (51 Birch Street, SFJFF 2006) has worked two jobs. The New York--based independent filmmaker is known primarily as an acclaimed director and producer of a handful of successful PBS documentaries. But Block's unlikely second gig finds him practicing his craft as a part-time wedding videographer. Shooting in a loose verité style, Block recorded not only over a hundred ceremonies and receptions but also the wide-eyed expectation and jittery preparation leading up to the big event. Through his work the filmmaker often developed a fondness for the couples, but after delivering the edited footage he rarely heard from the newlyweds again. So after a couple of decades, Block decided to find a dozen couples whose nuptials he recorded and find out what has become of them. The results are surprising, revealing and occasionally heartbreaking. Block discovers a fascinating, funny and often frank mixture of wives and husbands who reflect on the complicated reality of "happily ever after." One groom's recollection of the manic episode that eventually brought about his train wreck of a divorce deserves a documentary all its own. Doug Block has created a memorable and telling film that explores the secret of what it takes to make a lasting partnership between two people.