Geneva Anderson digs into art

Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival turns 15–Something for Everyone, October 5 – December 1, 2010

Gertrude Berg in a scene from "Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg," sold out at the Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival. Gertrude starred in the domestic sitcom that started on radio and moved to television and established the character-driven domestic sitcom as a tv staple.

Looking for a mid-week lift?   The 15th annual Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of Sonoma County is in full swing and the line-up is excellent.  In fact, whether you’re Jewish or not, you will appreciate having the world at your feet with this diverse mix of new international films that includes dramas, comedies, and documentaries, many of which have won numerous awards.  With the recent closing of the Rialto Lakeside Cinemas, The Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival is the main platform in Sonoma County for new independent and foreign films that otherwise get little exposure, outside of the film festival circuit.   The series of six films runs on Tuesday evenings at 7:15 pm at Cinema West’s Boulevard Cinemas in Petaluma and on Wednesdays at 1 pm and 7:15 pm at the Sixth Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa.  Screenings are selling out fast but individual tickets are still available for screenings at both venues.

The festival is the brainchild of Ellen Blustein, program director, who says that she and a dedicated programming committee screen films from around the world that are about engaging with life and that also have a Jewish connection.    The idea was originally to expand the outreach of the Jewish Community Center, a non-religious Jewish cultural organization in Sonoma County.   “Film was perfect.  What life lessons don’t get addressed in film?    That’s what keeps people in our community coming out to this festival.”  

Blustein is also proud that the festival  is financed entirely through private contributions.  At each screening, the sponsors for that particular film are asked to stand and are warmly applauded.  And, at every screening, there is a raffle—$2 buys a chance to win a fabulous prize, for example, dinner for two at Everest Restaurant and theatre tickets at the Cinnabar Theatre.  

Still left in the series—

 Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg:  For two and a half decades, Gertrude Berg, the creator of the wildly popular radio and TV show, “The Goldbergs” was the most famous woman in America, and the winner of the first ever Emmy Award for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The Oprah of her day, Gertrude Berg’s blend of comedy and social commentary, with Jewish characters at the center, endeared her to audiences and made her an American cultural icon. This highly entertaining feature length documentary blends interviews with Ed Asner, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Norman Lear,and Susan Stamberg, among others.  Documentary, USA, 92 minutes, English.  Tuesday, October 12, 7:15 p.m. PETALUMA and Wednesday, October 13, 1:00 p.m. & 7:15 p.m. SANTA ROSA

 Nora’s Will:  Nora plots to reunite her family and friends by ending her life on the eve of Passover. In this dark comedy, her curmudgeonly ex-husband of 30 years propels the zany and poignant events forward, including hilarious burial plans, the expectations of several orthodox rabbis, answers to long held secrets and Nora’s meticulously pre-planned Seder. Winner of seven Ariel Awards (Mexican Academy Awards) including Best Picture, Best Original screenplay and Best Actor,  Comedy,  Mexico, 92 minutes, Spanish, English subtitles.  Tuesday, October 19, 7:15 p.m. PETALUMA and Wednesday, October 20, 1:00 p.m. & 7:15 p.m. SANTA ROSA

Saviors in the Night:  Based on the true story of three German farm families who hid and saved a Jewish family during Nazi rule, the film reveals the complex relationships and emotional and physical hardships of saviors and saved. Ultimately hopeful, this example of a new self-reflective German film movement shows the potential for the heart to care for all humankind. The names of the farmers have been immortalized in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.  JFF audience award winner.  Drama,  Germany, 95 minutes, German, French and English, English subtitles.  Tuesday, October 26, 7:15 p.m. PETALUMA and Wednesday, October 27, 1:00 p.m. & 7:15 p.m. SANTA ROSA

Camera Obscura: Growing up in late 19th century Buenos Aries, Gertrud  is a disappointment to her mother from the moment of her birth. As the invisible ugly duckling, she is compelled to create beauty in everything she does, while remaining unseen. Married off to an older Jewish rancher, her husband hires an itinerant photographer for a family portrait. Through the photographer’s eyes, Gertrudis becomes visible for the first time. This luminous, artistic film uses archival and surrealistic photographs, black and white film, and hand drawn animation.  Drama, Argentina, 86 minutes, Spanish and Yiddish, English subtitles.  Tuesday, November 16, 7:15 p.m. PETALUMA and Wednesday, November 17, 1:00 p.m. & 7:15 p.m. SANTA ROSA

Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueberger: In this coming-of-age comedy, Esther, a feisty outsider at her posh private girls’ school, becomes desperate to fit in and discover her true self at the time of her Bat Mitzvah. Secretly, rebelling against her “perfect” upper middle class parents, Esther befriends Sunni, a public school bad girl and her super hip mom. Adopting a new identity, Esther becomes entangled in a web of lies, betrayal and bullying, ultimately finding a more honest self in the process. Actors include Keisha Castle- Hughes, Toni Collette and Danielle Catanzariti (winner of AFI Young Actors Award). Comedy, Australia, 103 minutes, English.  Tuesday, November 30, 7:15 p.m. PETALUMA and Wednesday, December 1, 1:00 p.m. & 7:15 p.m. SANTA ROSA

Tickets: $10 per matinee tickets, $12 per evening ticket. For further information on tickets, locations and times, contact the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County (707) 528-4222 or Ellen Blustein (707) 526-5538 or visit the JCC website and click on Film Festival.

October 14, 2010 - Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , ,

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