Saturday, July 17, 2010

Attn: San Franciscans, your annual Jewish Film Fest is nearly here. What a line-up!

One of the glories of the internet is that TrustMovies can sit here in Queens, NY, posting about an upcoming event -- the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival -- July 24 through August 9, in California, having received a bundle of screeners to watch and so get some sense of what this year's event looks, sounds and feels like. We're all connected, as they say, and even more so, since TM has already seen several of the films on the San Fran program via this past year's NY Jewish Film Fest and Rendez-vous with French Cinema, both sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Film Still Image
from the SFJFF's centerpiece film, Anita.

Some of you may already be asking why someone as anti-religious as I (click here for one of my jeremiads regarding religion that even my lifetime companion refused to continue reading, so angry did it make him) would want to cover yet another film fest that arrives freighted with the taint of "the deity."  (Would I cover a Christian Film festival?  A Muslim?  Not likely.  A pagan one, maybe.) Part of the reason, at least, has to do with the word Jewish, which for me, anyway, suggests cultural/historic significance than religious.

One of the splendid films on view at the SFJFF, in fact -- The Family Wolberg (photo, above) -- made its NYC debut as part of the FSLC's French Cinema series this year and will always seem to me much more French than Jewish. Another, the opening night attraction (as it was here in NY) Saviors in the Night, shown just below, details a Westphalian family's experience during WWII and so becomes, for my money (if not that of the nitwit Holocaust deniers) about history rather than religion. (You can find my earlier coverage of "Saviors" here.) When a film does deal specifically with religion, chances are it may very well offer a much more negative than positive view of same (as did the terrific Eyes Wide Open, which debuted at the NY Jewish fest and went on to garner a nationwide limited release).

The films at literally all the Jewish fests I've covered offer culture, history, competing viewpoints and much more, so that each fest become a kind of education in itself -- one I would rather partake in than miss. This year's SFJFF is no exception.  Movie after movie sounds intriguing.  The Army of Crime (below), another fine film shown at the FSLC French fest, details the stirrings of the French Resistance movement against the Nazi's during WWII, while A Room and a Half (shown at bottom), which opened in NYC a few months ago, provides a fantastical, dreamlike pseudo-return of poet Joseph Brodsky to his native Russia and combines memory, fact, animation, live action and more. By the time I've finished watching the five screeners (in addition to the films already seen), I'll have sampled but a small portion of the treats on hand.

There is literally so much of which to partake -- oodles of movies, special programs and events, panel discussions, in-person guests -- that the SFJFF is like some amazing, 17-day, potluck supper in which nearly everything is likely to prove delicious.  You can find the entire film & event program here, the special progams here, the panels/discussion programs here and find a roster of the in-person directors and other special guests hereIn fact, surf the whole SFJFF web site.

Plan to spend awhile, though: There's so much to see....

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