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San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 37 hits Marin this Friday: psychic sisters, Hedy Lamarr, an autism romance, historical dramas

A scene from Rachael Israel’s rom-com, “Keep the Change,” screening Saturday in Marin at the 37th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF37). This offbeat film, Israel’s first, picked up the top narrative feature award at the Tribecca Film Festival and was the opening film for SFJFF37’s San Francisco/Castro Theater segment. Israel relies entirely on non-actors, many on the autism spectrum, to tell a humorous and poignant love story that gets its kick start at a support group meeting for those with disabilities. The industry often tends to oversimplify disability and disease but this film manages to ring true while exploring the misconceptions we carry. SFJFF37’s Marin segment runs Friday-Sunday at the Smith Rafael Film Center and features 14 films, the very best selections from SFJFF37 which opened on July 20 with runs in San Francisco, the East Bay, and Palo Alto.

ARThound’s top picks for SFJFF37’s Marin weekend:

Paradise  (Friday, 3:50 PM)

Holocaust drama, innovative perspective-shifting storytelling, richly shot in black and white

Russian veteran Andrei Konchalovsky’s black and white WWII drama “Paradise” won the Venice Film Festival’s Silver Lion and was Russia’s entry for the 2017 Academy Award. The film looks back at the 1942-44 period from the perspective of three characters whose paths intertwine amidst the devastation of war— Olga (Julia Vysotskaya), a Russian aristocrat émigrée and member of the French Resistance; Jules (Philippe Duquesne) a French Nazi collaborator who is assigned to investigate her case; and Helmut (Christian Clauss), a high-ranking, quite naive German SS officer who once loved Olga and meets her again when she arrives at a concentration camp. The drama unfolds around several interviews in which the three main characters address an unknown authority and recount their stories as the film flashes back to the end of World War II and the days when their destinies crossed. Instead of focusing directly on the horrors of the Holocaust, which are well-known, Konchalovsky addresses the complex psychological trauma the characters underwent. Exceptional performances by Vysotskaya and Clauss round out this masterpiece. (2016, 130 min, Russian, German, French, Yiddish w/ English subtitles)

Planetarium (Friday, 8:35 PM)

American psychics in France on the eve of WWII

In Rebecca Zlotowski’s third feature, Planetarium, set in pre WWII France, Oscar-winning Natalie Portman and co-star Lily-Rose Depp portray American sisters who are rumored to possess the supernatural ability to connect with ghosts. When they meet a French producer (Emmanuel Salinger) who is fascinated by spiritualism and their gift and he hires them to shoot an ambitious experimental film, the experience spirals into a game of hidden agendas. The story is greatly bolstered by Emmanuel Salinger’s solid performance and by Natalie Portman’s cool demeanor and old world glamour. (2016, 106 min, English and French w/English subtitles)

1945 (Sunday, 2:15 PM)

Interesting drama set in rural Hungary in immediate postwar period with the feel of a Western

Selected as the festival’s centerpiece film, Hungarian director Ferenc Török’s chilling sixth feature, “1945,” delivers an exceptional slow-building drama that has some similarities to a Hollywood Western, except that the tension leads to more of a mental shoot out than an actual gunfight. The film exemplifies one of the trends in independent filmmaking over the past few years, approaching big subjects through small, personal stories. 1945 is an adaptation of Gábor T Szántó’s short story Homecoming which addresses WWII and Hungary’s collaboration with the Nazis through the lens of a small village where preparations are being made for a wedding. Amidst these preparations, two Orthodox Jews arrive at the train station carrying mysterious boxes. Their arrival triggers primal fears amongst some villagers who speculate that they may be forced to give back their ill-gotten gains and in others, it brings up deep feelings of remorse about their inhumane treatment of Jews who had lived amongst them as brothers. As personal stories unfold, we see how all the fates of the villagers are inextricably intertwined and how the events they participated in as perpetrator or victim have inescapable moral consequences. (2017, 91 min, Hungarian w/English subtitles)

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (Sunday: 4:15 PM)

Savvy biopic revealing the brainy side of a Hollywood pinup icon

Co-produced by Susan Sarandon, Alexandra Dean’s documentary “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” has its West Coast Premiere at the festival and explores Hollywood pinup actress Hedy Lamarr’s big beautiful mind. Lamarr achieved international notoriety when she casually swam nude in the 1933 Czech Gustav Mahaty film “Ecstasy,” the first time nudity had been depicted in a mainstream film. She leveraged her smoldering beauty and sudden fame into a remarkable Hollywood career but her deeper passion was technology and mechanics. The doc explores her life and fascinating history as a gifted inventor. Never-before-heard audio clips include Lamar telling her story as she chose to frame it, along with first person accounts from stars who knew her, including the late Robert Osborn of TCM fame. Lamar discusses her marriages and her relationship with Howard Hughes. The enduring take away is her little-known contribution to war-time technology.  The mathematically-gifted Lamarr first learned about military technology from dinner party conversations between her first husband, Austrian arms-manufacturer Fritz Mandel and Nazi German generals.  In the early 1940’s, she co-invented an early form of frequency hopping (spread spectrum communication technology) with avant guarde composer George Antheil who happened to be her neighbor.  Their idea, patented in 1942, became the basis for a torpedo guidance system that utilized a mechanism similar to piano player rolls to synchronize the changes between 88 rapidly changing radio frequencies, drawing on the premise that a constantly changing frequency is harder to jam. Lamarr gave her patent to the Navy and received no credit for her contributions. (2017, 90 min, English)

Details:   SFJFF37 is at the Smith Rafael Film Center Friday, August 4, through Sunday, August 6, 2017.  Films start roughly at noon and run until 10 PM, with 4 to 5 films daily. The Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center is located at 1118 4th Street, San Rafael.  For detailed descriptions of the 14 films screening and to purchase tickets in advance online, click here.  Tickets ($15 general admission, $14 seniors/students) may also be purchased directly at the Festival Box Office at the Smith Rafael Film Center.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview: Israeli director Gilad Baram talks about “Koudelka Shooting Holy Land,” his debut doc on Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka, screening at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival this week

 

Baram Koudelka 08

Czech-born French Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka in Israel/Palestine. Koudelka is the focus of Israeli filmmaker Gilad Baram’s documentary “Koudelka Shooting Holy Land” (2015), screening twice at the at 36th annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival which runs through August 7 at venues throughout the Bay Area, including Smith Rafael Film Center. Still from “Koudelka Shooting Holy Land” @ Gilad Baram.

 

Czech-born French Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka’s images from Gypsies (1975) and Exiles (1988) documented the Roma and displaced populations across Europe in a way that grabbed people and pulled them right into the images. Koudelka shed light on previously unknown worlds of mysticism, delight, sadness and ways of being which pierced our souls and upon which we too could pin our own dreams.   Koudelka’s commitment to his subjects was hard earned; he lived and traveled with his subjects for decades, and the trust they gave in return is evident in these intimate images.  His arresting images from the streets of his native Prague during the Soviet-led invasion of 1968 are what catapulted him initially into the elite Magnum circle.

Recently, Koudleka, now 79, has focused on panoramic landscapes and turned his lens on the Holy Land to explore how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has left its mark on the landscape itself.  Accompanying Koudelka on this assignment was young Israeli photographer Gilad Baram, a student at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, who gradually turned his own lens on Koudelka to produce a fascinating documentary portrait of a man whose images are world famous but about whom very little is known.   Baram worked as Koudelka’s assistant for four years, accompanying him on seven separate visits throughout Palestine and Israel.  His duties were to provide Koudelka’s travel arrangements, logistical support and translation.  Every day, they would worked from about 7 am until the light faded, an experience that changed Baram’s life.  His film, Koudleka Shooting Holy Land (German/Czech Republic 2015) screens twice at 36th annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF 36), which kicked off Thursday at the Castro Theater and runs through August 7 in venues throughout the Bay Area, including San Rafael.

I spoke with Baram on Wednesday and he opened up about all aspects of his remarkable experience with Koudelka.   One of the challenges that any filmmaker faces in making a film about an artist of this caliber is to find a way to channel that individual’s gift without pandering to the iconization of the artist or his work.   Baram pulls this off through a series of artistic choices, producing a riveting portrait that reveals Koudelka’s way of working, his soft-spoken personality and his accumulated wisdom as well as the stunning images that result.   For those of us who are photography buffs, the chance to see the divided landscape up close, with Koudelka maneuvering, crawling, waiting and offering the rare comment as well as the goods─those precious contact sheets and the resulting prints─is a revelation.

Koudelka Shooting Holy Land screens Monday July 25th at 4 pm at the Castro Theatre, San Francisco, and at the Roda Theatre, Berkeley, on Sunday, July 31, at 1:55 pm.  Filmmaker Gilad Baram in attendance at both screenings for post-screening Q&A.

What brought Koudelka to the Holy Land and how did you come to be his assistant?

Gilad Baram:  It began in 2008, when Frédéric Brenner, a French Jewish photographer, who was famous for documenting Jewish communities world-wide, was gathering this group of 12 big names in the world of photography to come to Israel to explore different aspects of the country.  They would be given this extended and very generous period of time and resources to create their own body of work that was, afterwards, intended to become a group exhibition, a kind of huge fragmented portrait, and a book, that would travel around the world.  It came to be “This Place,” which premiered in Prague, continued to Tel Aviv and was recently exhibited in Brooklyn.

Director Gilad Baram and photographer Josef Koudelka, Qalandia Checkpoint, the main checkpoint between the northern West Bank and Jerusalem. © Frédéric Brenner

Director Gilad Baram and photographer Josef Koudelka, Qalandia Checkpoint, the main checkpoint between the northern West Bank and Jerusalem. © Frédéric Brenner

In the beginning, Koudelka declined Brenner’s offer to participate in this group project but was ultimately persuaded to come on this exploratory visit to Israel.  He accidentally bumped into the Wall in East Jerusalem and something quite profound happened in him.  Once he realized that this arouses this deep personal experience in him, he came to the conclusion that there was something he could do there.

I do know that this was his first time in Israel and Palestine and that, like he is usually, he was very suspicious of any project that was fully funded and this large in scope.  Frédéric had made a deal with my photography department to choose students who would assist these photographers.  I was the first student picked out and Josef was the first to arrive and we were put together completely by chance.  It was in February 2009.  We shook hands and had a short conversation and agreed to meet at 7 a.m. the next morning.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

Do you recall your first encounter with Koudelka’s work and your impressions?

Gilad Baram:  Yes, clearly.  It was 2005, in the library of my art school.  It was my first year there and, by accident, I opened the book Gypsies (1975) and was blown away.   I immediately connected with his photographs and his way of photographing, which I later learned is inseparable from his way of living.  Back then, I was fascinated with this and thought I too will become this nomad photographer who goes around and discovers the world, and who tends more towards the underdog.  Four years later, suddenly I’m in the lobby of a hotel in Jerusalem shaking hands with the guy who made these great photos and we set off on this incredible adventure, which neither of us anticipated.  I never imagined this would become a film.

How did your first day of work go?

Gilad Baram:  I discovered that Josef Koudleka does not need an assistant but what he does need is someone to drive him around who can communicate in the local language and a little company now and then.  He was very reserved at the beginning.  He is and has always been a lone wolf and a very wise one.  In the past 30 years or so, as his way of photographing has evolved, he uses these locals in the various places he visits to enable him with maneuvering the terrain.   In each place he goes now days, Magnum has arranged someone for this purpose who meets him.  It became quite apparent to me that we would not become friends.  He was on a mission and that was his priority.  He was, most definitely, not interested in talking too much.

Gilad Baram and Josef Koudelka in Israel/Palestine, © Gilad Baram.

Gilad Baram and Josef Koudelka in Israel/Palestine, © Gilad Baram.

How did the idea for the film come about?

Gilad Baram:  As I said, I had no intention to make a film.  At the very beginning of our journey, on the second day, when we were traveling up the West Bank, we stopped the car and he went out.  I too got out and took my camera with me.  He started photographing and then turned to me and said ‘you’re not going to hang around with this camera while I’m photographing, so please leave it in the car’.  I obeyed but I was upset.  I didn’t understand how a photographer could say that to another photographer, let alone a student.   When we arrived at the second place, I took my camera out of the car and just did it again.  This time, he turned me to and didn’t say anything but just walked away.  That’s when it started.  It was this combo of me realizing that Josef Koudelka doesn’t need an assistant and if I wished to survive this adventure, I’d have to do something for myself and by myself.  As he was walking away, I interpreted it as ‘you have a certain permission’.

Later, in the car, he made a kind of agreement with me–I would be allowed to photograph but I would not be allowed to show them to anyone, not even my colleagues at school and, if I wanted to do anything with these photos, I needed to have his permission.  He also mentioned that he should have full access to my material in case he was interested in it.  I had no option but to say OK.  It happened that my camera was the Canon 5D Mark II, which had full video mode, and, very soon, I began using that.  I’m not sure he even noticed because I wasn’t directing the camera to him at first. But it soon became very clear that he was the most interesting thing around.  I think he thought that I would not be quiet in the car, so he’d ‘let the children play’ so he could get on with his work and I would have something to do.  That was the dynamic in the beginning.  Clearly, it changed throughout time.

How did this video you were taking on the sly evolve into a film?  

Gilad Baram:   The dynamics changed.  Between each of his visits, there was more or less half a year that passed.  Between his first and second trip, I started to look at the material and after the third and fourth trips, I realized that this massive accumulation might be of interest to other people too.  That’s when I began thinking to myself that perhaps there’s a statue that is hidden in this huge chunk of marble and I need to start carving it out.  It was a very frustrating process.  In the beginning, when filming, I was restless and was running around like crazy with my camera.  I couldn’t really position myself because he was moving constantly.  Watching that footage, I knew immediately it was bullshit and that, if I’d like to attempt depicting him and his work, I would need to change my approach. It hit me that I should try adopting the way that he looks at the world.  I started slowing down and developing a visual language that was more connected to still photography and less to the moving image, establishing my camera on a tripod and allowing Koudelka to move in the compositions, which was key.  I was bridging the moving image with the still image in a way.  Once I started down that path, it was a long process of trials and errors, watching him and learning. This film is a result of this process.

Josef Koudelka, A crusader map mural, Kalya Junction, Near the Dead Sea, 2009 © Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos

Josef Koudelka, A crusader map mural, Kalya Junction, Near the Dead Sea, 2009 © Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos

 

He’s a visual storyteller who has always stood on his own and I’m curious about how he reacted to you embellishing this with a film which he probably perceived of as unnecessary.

Gilad Baram:   The first thing I showed Josef was this timeline I had made with a mass of material.  He was not impressed.  Yet, he said I should go on.   I don’t think he realized how serious I was; that only came at a later stage.  Our initial verbal contract was still binding but things evolved from him letting me distract myself by filming to keep out from under his legs, to him becoming a part of it.  We reached an extreme when, during his last visit, he actually asked me when he should be entering the frame.  That went too far and I knew something was starting to go wrong.  I realized that when he was not taking me that seriously, he was actually genuine.  Also, there was something quite crucial about me filming with the 5D Mark II that was in fact a still camera but also had a full frame video mode.  Josef didn’t feel there was an estranged object around him, which enabled him to feel more at ease as the apparatus was familiar to him.  Koudelka does not give interviews, he does not attend openings frequently and doesn’t want any distraction from his work; he is all about the photography.  He probably perceived of this film as a major disturbance while I was following him in Israel and Palestine.  His way of dealing was to put it off and to say ‘just show me the result in the end.’  It became very evident that I was going through with this film during his last visit and that was when he changed his behavior in the way I described and, subsequently, those segments do not appear in the film.

I poured over some 140 hours, with Elisa Purfürst, the dedicated editor and co-writer of the film, and there was a point when I came to Paris with a short edited version to show to him and to those close to him and that was a crucial moment.  He realized that I was going through with this.  The reaction of those around him was crucial as well.  They expressed their appreciation of what they had watched and said they never imagined that he and his work could come across so honestly.  That was a very moving and important moment.   Josef just asked me one question─ what I had learned throughout our time together and in making this film.  The first thing that came to mind was that I learned how to look, I mean on many different levels.  In the photography sense, there was looking at composition, light, locations, and so forth but also how to look at something I was taught not to turn my gaze on.  This time with Josef opened a window for me and allowed me to really take time to look and for what I saw to resonate.  That was my answer to him.  After that, it was carte blanche.   He later on was very generous and gave me access to his contact sheets and I basically went through all of them, from his early days until now.  That was incredible.

 

Josef Koudelka in Israel/Palestine. Still from “Koudelka: Shooting Holy Land” (2015) © Gilad Baram.

Josef Koudelka in Israel/Palestine. Still from “Koudelka Shooting Holy Land” (2015) © Gilad Baram.

 

You made a number of shrewd choices regarding how to weave this all together.  It was very satisfying to wait with him for all the elements to fall into place, to suffer through the various distractions, to experience him maneuvering in for the shot.  Also, hearing his voice and how and what he communicated gave me the feeling that I knew him a bit.  You also honored the time it takes to really look at a photo.  After taking us along on a shoot, you gave us a further sense of his artistry by showing his contact sheets and the images he ultimately selected.  He has this keen internal radar for the line of sight which becomes so evident when we can see the various stills that resulted from his shifting his lens just a few fractions of an inch. 

Gilad Baram:  The challenge of sculpting this mass of material was to have someone wise and observant dig into it with me, Elisa Purfürst.  Our mission was to depict his work and way of working without falling into the traps that come with the territory and to really give the photos the space and life that they need.   Also to manage with the few words that he did say to convey his way of thinking, something that you cannot decipher from just watching him. We also wanted to reveal parts of his biography where it was extremely important to understand why he does what he does and why he reacts to things in the way he does.  We went through many versions of the film and it was never right until it was right.

In the film, we see him returning to places he’s already photographed and he brings his old photos with him.  What is he striving for?

Gilad Baram:  This was a complete surprise and a certain revelation, something that when looking at his photos, before I knew him, I never thought that was part of his process.  He studies deeply his own photographs and when doing so, he also studies changes in the landscape.  He takes what he feels are his best images with him back to a location and tries to perfect them.  When he reaches the point, where he feels he can’t do it any better, or things have physically changed to prevent that, he calls it quits and goes on to the next. The kind of sensitivity you need for that, for knowing when to draw the line requires complete commitment and intuition.

Over the course of his life and career, his photos have also evolved.  The photos that he made when he was younger are, of course, different than those he makes today.  Those projects up to and including the 80’s have to do mainly with people or depicting people, while his work since has to do with landscape.  However people are still present as these landscapes he photographs are affected by man.  In a way, this is even more of a profound statement as it is a very subtle way to learn about human beings.  I think this shift has two aspects.  One is the need in an artist’s life for change, not to repeat oneself.  This, I believe, played quite a major role in his picking up this panoramic format after years of photographing in 35mm and in turning his gaze towards landscape rather than the human figure.  The other is what happens to all of us, which is aging.  Josef described the work created in the first part of his career as endlessly chasing a moment, spending all his time running after something which is all the time disappearing and will not exist anymore.  What happened in the second part, and is still happening, is waiting; he is now waiting for the moment.  These are is two sides of the same coin you know.   That’s a lovely thing to realize about him and about photography in general.

Josef Koudelka, Rachel’s Tomb, 2009 © Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos

Josef Koudelka, Rachel’s Tomb, 2009 © Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos

Having studied his images from this series so intently, is there one single image that speaks to you, or even haunts you?

Gilad Baram:  Josef came as foreigner, as so many photographers before him and many have fallen into the traps that are present in this extremely complex and crazy place.  Somehow he managed not to.  I admired his wisdom to manage to look so widely at this place and I try to adopt this way of looking.  There is no one single image but the entire body of his work made in Israel and Palestine that I find incredible.  I believe it will have importance in the history of photography of the Holy Land because it shows this extremely well-known theme in a completely different light and from a completely different angle. When people see his work, they respond to it because it is different.

Shu’fat refugee camp © Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos

Shu’fat refugee camp © Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos

 

Koudelka’s brief quips in the film about the Wall as a cage and prison are profound.  Do you too share these deep feelings? 

Gilad Baram:  I could identify with what he was saying and found that he expressed himself simply but wisely.  Yet, there’s a big difference between us, I mean beyond the age gap.  There’s this historical personal background that Josef carries with him from growing up behind the Iron Curtain.  When someone carries something like that with him for 70 years, they carry a scar and there’s also a lot of anger and frustration and that definitely manifested itself.

It was an extremely intensive time.  Each of his visits was about a month long. Every day we worked all day and we’d finish knackered physically and emotionally.  It was rather depressing walking these areas for an entire month.  Through traveling with him, I learned that I too did grow up with a wall about me.  While it’s not intended for me, it’s there and, even if people choose not to see it, it is still present in their minds.  Being Israeli, I also felt a certain sense of responsibility and I got extremely upset.  I often had this incredible urge to defend as well as to give explanations and counter arguments but, as we met more and more people and saw more, these counter arguments of mine became weaker and weaker.

I understand you saw more of the Wall than most Israeli’s see.  Had you visited before?  What did it mean for you?

Gilad Baram:  Previously, I had been to some protest demonstrations in the village of Bil’in, a few kilometers east of the Green Line, which was the first time I had really entered the West Bank.  I was participating as well as photographing but very soon realized that I don’t connect too much with this form of protest.  These demonstrations didn’t seem the best way of expressing oneself.  That was my basic knowledge of the West Bank.  It was during the long journey with Josef that I really discovered what the West Bank is, not mediated by TV or any other media.  This was something that not too many Israelis get the opportunity, or chose, to do.  It changed my life and changed my perception of what Israel is and what it is doing and what the other side looks like and is doing and how this huge monstrous wall, which is invisible to many, affects peoples’ lives on a daily basis.  We had this incredible opportunity to explore this wall-fence-de-facto border which now stretches over 800 kilometers and we really did explore all of it.

In “Koudelka Shooting the Holy Land,” filmmaker Gilad Baram captures Josef Koudelka as he composes photos related to the changing landscape of the Holy Land. © Josef Koudelka, Magnum Photographers

In “Koudelka Shooting Holy Land,” filmmaker Gilad Baram tracks Josef Koudelka as he composes photos related to the changing landscape of the Holy Land. © Josef Koudelka, Magnum Photographers

 

He was shooting with a film camera; did he ever ask you about your camera, or if he could try it.

Gilad Baram:  No, not at all.  Josef finds it very hard to relate to anything but his own creation.  It’s not ego; it’s that his world is so full of his photography and his concentration on his own work that there is just no space for much else. This applies to me, my camera and also to the work of others and it seems to have always been this way.  There is this story that Josef tells about Henri Cartier-Bresson and the very early stages of their friendship, soon after Josef arrived to Paris. Bresson helped him a lot, took him under his wings.  Bresson asked him for his help going through contact sheets and helping him select some photos.  Josef said he did it once but then went to Bresson and declined to do it again.  He said that he realized that it did not interest him so much and that, mainly, he did not want to be influenced in any way, so he just had to say no.  Back then, of course, you would not imagine anyone saying no to Henri Cartier-Bresson.  This is something I believe made Bresson appreciate Koudelka all the more.

What I experienced is that Koudelka knows very well what fits him and what doesn’t and when to draw the line.  He is not super interested in what others do either.  With regard to equipment, he is curious but he has the sense of what he should pick up.  He shoots in black and white and will not change that.  This is the way in which he sees the world through the view-finder.   He is trying out the formats that interest him but he doesn’t yet feel that he has completely gotten down to the very bone of the panoramic format and he is probably the foremost photographer in the world who has studied this format so deeply.  He feels he has some things yet to explore.  The minute he doesn’t feel this, he will stop and move on.  I think his biggest concern is to feel that he repeats himself.

I have to ask about his energy level…for a man approaching 80, he seems so engaged, alert and vital.

Gilad Baram:  When a person has a mission in life, a passion, and a kind of clear destiny, it seems to come with a motor.  Josef’s motor is to get up in the morning and to go photograph.  We started when he was 72.  Now he’s 79 and still he’s the most restless and alive person I know.  He does not stay in one place for more than a month.  This is in him and how he is.  We talk on the phone every few weeks and he’s this waterfall of activity.  On the other hand, he stands in sun or rain for hours, waiting for a photograph.  This is one of the beautiful contradictions that make this man who he is.  He’s restless yet so committed and dedicated.  It’s all about the next image and what it takes to get it.

 

Josef Koudelka photographing a mural of the late poet, Mahmoud Darwish, considered Palestine's national poet, East Jerusalem. © Gilad Baram

Josef Koudelka photographing a mural of the late poet Mahmoud Darwish, considered Palestine’s national poet, East Jerusalem. @Gilad Baram.

 

What is next for you?

Gilad Baram:  Film just grabbed me and I’m working on two films right now while continuing with my photographic practice, which is very different from Koudelka’s.  My photography started out as purely documentary.  It evolved into an exploration of digital environments with and through photography in an attempt to comprehend the impact of the Internet and big data on the photographic image.

As for the films, both relate somehow to my life at present.  The first continues to explore the theme of the creative process.  This time, together with the artist Adam Kaplan, I’m looking at the failure of this process through the fascinating and dramatic story of a feature-length fiction film made by the Israeli army in the late 90’s and censored just a few weeks before its release. The second project deals with my current place of residence, Germany, and with German teenagers and youth.   It is an attempt to look into the profound change of perception among the upcoming German generation in relation to the sense of guilt and remorse which dominated and shaped German society for decades after WWII.  Two very different projects yet both are very relevant for me at this point in my life.

Details:

Koudelka Shooting Holy Land screens Monday July 25th at 4 pm at the Castro Theatre, San Francisco, and at the Roda Theatre, Berkeley, on Sunday, July 31, at 1:55 pm.  Filmmaker Gilad Baram in attendance at both screenings for post-screening Q&A. General Admission tickets $13; click here to purchase.  Advance purchase is recommended.

Several other films about the arts are part of the 36th annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF 36), which kicked off Thursday evening at the Castro Theater and runs through August 7 in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Oakland and San Rafael.  This year’s festival offers 67 films from 15 countries and 52 premieres.  Six films come to the festival fresh from Sundance and six films have won awards at other film festivals.

For those North of the Golden Gate, the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center will offer 14 screenings beginning on Friday, August 5 through Sunday, August 7.  Click here for information and to purchase tickets for the San Rafael segment.  Advance ticket purchase is highly recommended.

 

July 24, 2016 Posted by | Film, Photography | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SFJFF hits the Smith Rafael Film Center for a long weekend, Friday-Sunday—14 films, great stories, from all over the world

Who would have thought that listening to old fishmongers could be so interesting?  The Russ sisters, Hattie, 100, (L) and Anne, 92, (R), daughters of Joel Russ, founder of New York’s Russ & Daughters, have hit their golden years with their sense of humor fully intact and banter delightfully on screen in Julie Cohen’s documentary, “The Sturgeon Queens.”  Cohen’s doc has its world premiere at the 34 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and screens Sunday at noon at the Smith-Rafael Film Center.  Others docs screening in San Rafael cover topics as diverse as a profile of the creator of the word genocide, a woman who learns her birthfather was black, American-style football in the Holy Land and the story of the son of a Hamas leader who became a spy for Israel’s Shin-bet.   Image: courtesy SFJFF 34

Who would have thought that listening to old fishmongers could be so interesting? The Russ sisters, Hattie, 100, (L) and Anne, 92, (R), daughters of Joel Russ, founder of New York’s Russ & Daughters, have hit their golden years with their sense of humor fully intact and banter delightfully on screen in Julie Cohen’s documentary, “The Sturgeon Queens.” Cohen’s doc has its world premiere at the 34th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and screens Sunday at noon at the Smith-Rafael Film Center. Others docs screening in San Rafael cover topics as diverse as a profile of the creator of the word genocide, a woman who learns her birthfather was black, American-style football in the Holy Land and the story of the son of a Hamas leader who became a spy for Israel’s Shin-bet. Image: courtesy SFJFF 34

The 34th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF 34) comes to Marin’s Smith Rafael Film Center this Friday-Sunday for a long weekend, presenting 14 of the festival’s top films.  I’ve attended this Marin segment for the past five years and the savvy programmers understand what clicks with our Marin, Sonoma and Napa attendees—intellectually resonant stories, creatively told.  Bonus points added for food, wine, art and causes we can get behind.  Begun in 1980, SFJFF is the oldest and largest Jewish film festival in the world and it traditionally kicks off and runs at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre before opening at other Bay Area venues.  This year, SFJFF 34 screened 67 films from 17 countries; 44 of those had some sort of premiere and over 30 visiting filmmakers and international guests attended.  For those of us in Northern California, battling the recently horrendous traffic on 101, the weekend in Marin is the only thing that that makes this beloved festival doable at all.  In our favor, the Smith Rafael Film Center’s offers an intimate setting and unbeatable acoustics and its wise liberal vibe contributes to sharp and sizzling audience exchanges.  All the films in this mini-fest exemplify the humor, warmth, wisdom, angst, and diversity of Jewish experiences around the world and introduce a strong crop of independent filmmakers.  Now, on to ARThound’s recommendations—

Friday, August 8, 8:45 p.m.—24 Days

In “24 Days,” French director Alexandre Arcady re-examines l'affaire du gang des barbares, (the Affair of the Gang of Barbarians)—the 2006 abduction and brutal torture in Paris of the first French Jew, since WWII, to have been viciously attacked for being Jewish.  The suspenseful ransom story is told through the through the voice of a grieving mother, Ruth Halimi, played by Zabou Breitman, who informs the audience that the events they are about to see actually happened.  The film captures the dramatic struggles of the family and French authorities who were at odds with each other over calling this abduction an act of anti-Semitism.  Image: courtesy SFJFF34

In “24 Days,” French director Alexandre Arcady re-examines l’affaire du gang des barbares, (the Affair of the Gang of Barbarians)—the 2006 abduction and brutal torture in Paris of the first French Jew, since WWII, to have been viciously attacked for being Jewish. The suspenseful ransom story is told through the through the voice of a grieving mother, Ruth Halimi, played by Zabou Breitman, who informs the audience that the events they are about to see actually happened. The film captures the dramatic struggles of the family and French authorities who were at odds with each other over calling this abduction an act of anti-Semitism. Image: courtesy SFJFF34

24 Days   U.S. Premiere (France, 2014)  French director and actor, Alexandre Arcady (Day of Atonement (original French title: Le Grand Pardon II) 1992), takes us back to 2006 and astutely delves into l’affaire du gang des barbares (the Affair of the Gang of Barbarians)—the abduction and brutal torture in Paris of the first French Jew, since WWII, to have been viciously attacked for simply being Jewish.  And what a story he weaves, meticulously researched and narrated with a surprising degree of suspense through the voice of a grieving mother.  After Shabbat dinner on January 20, 2006, Ilan Halimi, a 23 year-old telephone vendor of Moroccan Jewish descent, decides to go out, against his mother’s wishes, and celebrate.  On his way out, he kisses his mother, Ruth Halimi (Zabou Breitman), who will never see her son again.  Arcady, himself an Algerian-born Jew who emigrated to France at age 15, adapted the story from the mother’s book and police records. She had a gut feeling that her hapless son was abducted because he was Jewish and the kidnappers assumed that all Jews have money, but the authorities stubbornly refused to acknowledge this as a factor in the abduction.  During their three-week nightmare, relived on film, the mother and her ex-husband, Didier (Pascal Elbé), received over 650 insulting, anxiety-producing phone calls.  It turns out that their son was being held in a public housing block in a Paris suburb by a multi-racial gang of French youngsters and at least 30 people knew about it but did nothing, afraid of what the gang’s leader, Fofana (Tony Harrison), would do to them if they snitched to the authorities.  This is such an important story and so faithfully told that the French Ministry of Education had it shown in French schools.  111 min (Screens at 8:45 p.m.)

6:30 p.m. The Green Prince  (Germany, Israel, UK, 2014)  Nadav Schirman’s espionage documentary opened SFJFF 34 at the Castro to a full house on July 24 and won the Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award (World Cinema: Documentary).  The film is based Mosab Hassan Yousef’s startling memoir, Son of Hamas, and relives how Yousef, the son of one of the leaders of the Palestinian group Hamas, became a spy for Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, while working for his father.  The film’s title refers to the Israeli security agency’s nickname for Yousef, named for the color of the Hamas flag and his high-ranking affiliation with the Islamist organization.   Given the recent violence in Gaza, which we’re all heartsick over, the film’s happy-ending— Palestinian-Israeli friendship—falls apart.  ARThound recommends seeing it later, when it opens in the Bay Area.  99 min (Screens 6:30 p.m.)

Saturday, August 9, 3 p.m.—Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz’s documentary Little White Lie (USA, 2014) has its world premiere at SFJFF34 and screens Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Smith Rafael Film Center.  Lacey (L) grew up believing she was white and Jewish.  When confronted, her mother, Peggy (R), confessed that she had hidden an extramarital fling with a black man from her and that Lacey was the result.  Image: courtesy SFJFF34

Lacey (L) grew up believing she was white and Jewish. When confronted, her mother, Peggy (R), confessed that she had hidden an extramarital fling with a black man from her and that Lacey was the result. Lacey Schwartz’s documentary, “Little White Lie” (USA, 2014), has its world premiere at SFJFF34 and screens Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Smith Rafael Film Center. Image: courtesy SFJFF34

Little White Lie  World Premiere  (USA, 2014) Harvard Law School graduate Lacey Schwartz turns the camera on herself as she explores how she was raised as white and Jewish and learned as an adult that was her biological father was black.  This relatively short but engrossing doc is about as real as it gets when it comes to confronting one’s long held feelings about identity and race and how those solidify or change with new information.  Schwartz grew up in the mostly white town of Woodstock, New York, and her tawny complexion was always attributed to her father’s deep olive-toned Sicilian Jewish grandfather.  She learned by accident that she was biracial while she was an undergraduate at Georgetown University.  Based on the photo accompanying her entrance application, her contact information was forwarded to its black student association.  When Schwartz confronted her mother, Peggy, she confessed that she had hidden an extramarital fling with a black man from her and that Lacey was the result.   A few years into living with the news, Lacey says this shocking news has not changed the way she sees herself but it has influenced the way she sees the world and, of course, her mother.    65 min (Screens at 3 p.m. with Little Horribles: Mini Bar, a darkly comedic web series that tracks the poor decisions of a self-indulgent lesbian, here trying to resist raiding her the mini bar in her family’s hotel room.)

Saturday, August 9, 4:45 p.m.—God’s Slave

César Troncoso is Ahmed, a Kuwaiti Muslim extremist posing as surgeon and family man in 1994 Buenos Aires in Joel Novoa’s debut feature, “God’s Slave,” (2014), which has its Bay Area premiere at SFJFF 34.   This well-crafted political thriller pits two determined men against one another, crossing paths in the aftermath of the real-life bombings in Buenos Aries in 1994 against the Jewish community.  Image: courtesy SFJFF34

César Troncoso is Ahmed, a Kuwaiti Muslim extremist posing as surgeon and family man in 1994 Buenos Aires in Joel Novoa’s debut feature, “God’s Slave,” (2014), which has its Bay Area premiere at SFJFF 34. This well-crafted political thriller pits two determined men against one another, crossing paths in the aftermath of the real-life bombings in Buenos Aries in 1994 against the Jewish community. Image: courtesy SFJFF34

God’s Slave (Ecsclavo de DiosBay Area Premiere  (Argentina, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela) 90 min)  The  plot sounds familiar—as children both a Muslim and an Islaeli witnessed unspeakable atrocities which have come to define the men they became and the violence they will perpetuate in the name of religion.  Ahmed Al Hassama (Mohammed Al-Khaldi) masquerades as a Venezuelan surgeon waiting until his assignment, a suicide bombing, is revealed to him.  David Goldberg (Vando Villamil) is a cold-blooded Mossad intelligence agent stationed in Buenos Aires, with a relentless aptitude for terrorists’ careers and threats.  Fernando Butazzoni’s screen play, which is set against the 1994 AMIA car-bombing in Buenos Aires, which left 85 people dead, becomes a living breathing portrait of crusaders about to implode in the hands of Venezuelan director Joel Novoa. A master storyteller, Novoa transforms a seemingly open-and-shut political thriller into a moving and nuanced portrayal of commitment and crusade. 90 min (Screens at 4:45 p.m.)

Saturday, August 9, 6:50 p.m.—El Critico

Argentinean film critic turned director Hernan Guerschuny’s comedy, “El Critico,” screens Saturday evening at SFJFF 34 in San Rafael.  Jaded, socially awkward, emotionally repressed, full of himself—film critic Víctor Tellez (Rafael Spregelburd) writes reviews for a daily newspaper in Buenos Aires and identifies so completely with the French New Wave, that the voices he hears inside his head speak French.  Newly divorced, he divides his time between watching films and then discussing them at a local dive with his nerdy friends.  All that changes when he accidentally meets quirky Sofia (Colores Fonzi) who seems to be right out of French comedy (and hence perfect for him).  Soon he’s even sobbing and relating to rom-com’s.  Image: courtesy SFJFF34

Argentinean film critic turned director Hernan Guerschuny’s comedy, “El Critico,” screens Saturday evening at SFJFF 34 in San Rafael. Jaded, socially awkward, emotionally repressed, full of himself—film critic Víctor Tellez (Rafael Spregelburd) writes reviews for a daily newspaper in Buenos Aires and identifies so completely with the French New Wave, that the voices he hears inside his head speak French. Newly divorced, he divides his time between watching films and then discussing them at a local dive with his nerdy friends. All that changes when he accidentally meets quirky Sofia (Colores Fonzi) who seems to be right out of French comedy (and hence perfect for him). Soon he’s even sobbing and relating to rom-com’s. Image: courtesy SFJFF34

Sunday, August 10, noon—The Sturgeon Queens

Who would have thought that listening to old fishmongers could be so interesting?  Filmmaker Julie Cohen has made "The Sturgeon Queens," a history of the legendary Russ & Daughters appetizing store on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  Pescatarian pioneer Joel Russ (center) surrounded by daughters (from Left) Hattie, Ida and Anne.  Image: SFJFF34

Who would have thought that listening to old fishmongers could be so interesting? Filmmaker Julie Cohen has made “The Sturgeon Queens,” a history of the legendary Russ & Daughters appetizing store on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Pescatarian pioneer Joel Russ (center) surrounded by daughters (from Left) Hattie, Ida and Anne. Image: SFJFF34

 

The Sturgeon Queens  Bay Area Premiere  (USA, 2013)   For New Yorkers noshing on smoked fish and fine appetizers wouldn’t be the same without the venerable Russ & Daughters which celebrates its centennial this year.  .  Julie Cohen, NY Emmy winner and founder of BetterThanFiction Productions, tells the story —100 years, 4 generations, 1.8 million pounds of pickled herring—delightfully.  It’s really a love story of family bonding and fish.  And of a noun called “appetizing”—a Jewish food tradition that is most typical among American (especially New York) Jews and has its origins in the Eastern European Jewish tradition of starting meals with cold appetizers, known in Yiddish as “forshpayz”….modern day translation “the foods one eats with bagels.”  One hundred years ago, workaholic founding father Joel Russ started hawking fine herring on the streets of New York with a push-cart and finally scrimped enough to get his own store on the lower East Side.  This is literally the house that herring built.  His three daughters, the Sturgeon Queens—Anne, Hattie and Ida—helped out their dad and worked behind the counter for decades, pulling their husbands and relatives right along.  In the film we hear from two of the sisters, now grandmas—100-year-old Hattie Russ Gold and 92-year-old Anne Russ Federman who still banter delightfully while reflecting on lives richly lived and customers who passed through their doors.  Their grandchildren, who run the store today,  Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper, talk about carrying on the Russ tradition and bringing this institution into the age of computers and author Mark Russ Federman (Russ & Daughters, Reflections and Recipes from the House that Herring Built, 2013) adds more mouthwatering detail.  Well-known enthusiasts of the store add spice—Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, chef Mario Batali, New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin, and 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer.  54 min (Screens at noon) Will screen on various PBS stations later this year.

Sunday, August 10, 1:45 p.m.—Touchdown Israel

Almost four years ago, San Francisco-based documentary filmmaker, Paul Hirschberger, started learning all he could about the North American-style of tackle football that is being played in Israel.  “Touchdown Israel” (2014) has its world premiere at SFJFF 34 and explores how the growing sport is bridging cultural gaps in Israel.  Hirschberger will attend Sunday’s screening at the Smith Rafael Film Center.  Image: SFJFF34

Almost four years ago, San Francisco-based documentary filmmaker, Paul Hirschberger, started learning all he could about the North American-style of tackle football that is being played in Israel. “Touchdown Israel” (2014) has its world premiere at SFJFF 34 and explores how the growing sport is bridging cultural gaps in Israel. Hirschberger will attend Sunday’s screening at the Smith Rafael Film Center. Image: SFJFF34

Touchdown Israel  World Premiere, filmmaker Paul Hirschberger in attendance with post-screening Q&A   (USA, Israel, 2014)   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. (Synopsis by Peter Stein) 85 min (Screens at 1:45 p.m.)

Sunday, August 10, 4:15 p.m.—Watchers of the Sky

Watchers of the Sky  CA Premiere  The term “genocide” was created by the Polish Jewish lawyer, Raphael Lemkin, and first used in his 1944 book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.  MacArthur Award-winning documentarian, Edit Belzberg, explores Lemkin’s legacy in creating an international framework for prosecuting acts aimed at the intentional destruction of a people.  At Sundance, this smart doc picked up an Editing Award and Special Jury Award for Use of Animation US Documentary.  Inspired by Samantha Power’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (2013), Belzberg takes you on a very disturbing experiential journey over the past century of genocide intercutting Lemkin’s story with interviews from Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz; journalist-turned-UN ambassador Samantha Power, who covered Bosnia’s ethnic cleansing;  Luis Moreno Ocampo, prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, who is building the case against Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir over the deaths in Darfur; and Emmanuel Uwurukundo, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide now aiding Darfur refugees in Chad.  Belberg evokes Lemkin’s spirit through quotes from his memoirs and wonderful animation.  This is a must-see primer in human rights awareness and action. Watchers of the Sky will open theatrically in the US in October 2014.  114 min (Screens 4:45 p.m.)

Details:  The Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center is located at 1118 Fourth Street in San Rafael.  Metered parking is available on the street or chose from several lots close by.  The San Rafael portion of the festival starts Friday, August 8, 2014, and runs through Sunday, August 10, 2014.  Tickets: $14; $13 seniors and students.  Advance purchase is recommended—click on film links below or visit www.sfjff.org or call 415.621.0523. (Rafael passes, CFI Fast Passes or members’ discounts are not valid for these screenings.) The Rafael box office will not sell advance tickets; however, it will sell tickets remaining for various screenings on the day of their screening.

 

Full Schedule, SFJFF 34 at Smith Rafael Film Center, Friday (Aug 8)–Sunday (Aug 10)

Friday

2:10 p.m. Mamele  (dir. Joseph Green, Konrad Tom, USA, 1938, 97 min)

4:20 p.m.  Swim Little Fish Swim  (dir. Ruben Amar, USA, France, 2013, 96 min)

6:30 p.m.  The Green Prince West Coast Premiere (dir. Nadav Schirman, Germany, Israel, UK, 2014, 99 min,

8:45 p.m.  24 Days  U.S. Premiere (dir. Alexandre Arcady, France, 2014, 111 min)

 

Saturday

1 p.m. My Own Man CA Premiere (dir. David Sampliner, USA, 2014, 83 min)

3 p.m. Little White Lie World Premiere (dir. Lacey Schwartz, USA, 2014, 65 min)

4:45 p.m. God’s Slave (Ecsclavo de Dios) Bay Area Premiere (dir. Joel Novoa, Argentina, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela, 90 min)

6:50 p.m. El Critico CA Premiere (dir. Hernán Guerschuny, Argentina, 2013, 90 min)

8:55 p.m. Comedy Warriors Northern CA Premiere John Wagner (USA, 2014) 75 min

Sunday

12 noon The Sturgeon Queens Bay Area Premiere (dir. Julie Cohen, USA, 2013, 54 min)

1:45 p.m. Touchdown Israel World Premiere (dir. Paul Hirschberger, USA, Israel, 2014, 85 min)

4:15 p.m. Watchers of the Sky CA Premiere (dir. Edit Belzberg, USA, 2013, 114 min)

6:45 p.m. Snails in the Rain CA Premiere (dir. Yariv Mozer, Israel, 2013, 82 min)

8:40 p.m. A Place in Heaven CA Premiere (dir. Yossi Madmoni, Israel, 2013, 117 min)

 

August 5, 2014 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

San Francisco’s Jewish Film Festival kicks-off this Thursday, July 24, with a line-up highlighting the diversity of films and cultures and a long-weekend of programming in Marin, August 8-10

Nadav Schirman's espionage documentary, “The Green Prince,” which won Sundance's Audience Award, opens the 34th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, July 24 to August 10, 2014.  The film tells the story of the son on one of the leaders of Palestinian group Hamas who becomes a spy for the Israelis. Schirman will be in attendance. Image: courtesy SFJFF 34

Nadav Schirman’s espionage documentary, “The Green Prince” (2014) which won Sundance’s Audience Award, opens the 34th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, July 24 to August 10, 2014. Set against the backdrop of recent events in the Middle East, the film tells the story of the son of one of the leaders of Palestinian group Hamas who becomes a spy for the Israelis. Schirman will be in attendance. Image: courtesy SFJFF 34

The 34th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF 34) opens Thursday evening at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre with the West Coast premiere of Nadav Schirman’s “The Green Prince,” the opening night film at Sundance and the winner of the World Documentary Audience Award.  The double-dealing doc follows a Palestinian in Ramallah, Mosab Hassan Yousef, who grows up angry and ready to fight Israel. When he is arrested for smuggling guns at the age of 17, he’s interrogated by the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, and sent to prison.  Shocked by Hamas’ ruthless tactics in the prison and the organization’s escalating campaign of suicide bombings outside, Mosab agrees to spy for Israel. For him, there is no greater shame. For his Shin Bet handler, Gonen, there is no greater prize than “operating” the oldest son of a founding member of Hamas.  Their forced relationship and its complex psychological dynamic fuels a well-told story. Director Nadav Schirman’s previous films include The Champagne Sky (2007) winner of the Israeli Academy Award for best documentary film and the John Schlesinger Award for Outstanding First Feature, and In the Dark Room (2013).  Schirman will be in attendance on Opening Night and on Saturday, July 26th at the CinéArts@ Palo Alto screening. Additional screenings will take place on Sunday, August 3rd at the California Theater in Berkeley and on Friday, August 8th the Smith-Rafael Film Center in San Rafael. (Click here for additional information on screenings.)

A festive Opening Night Party at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco follows Thursday evening’s opening night screening.

SFJFF 34 includes 67 films from 17 countries, including 44 premieres, a wide spectrum of stimulating discussions, 33 visiting filmmakers and international guests and several wonderful parties.

There are eight Bay Area venues—

Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street (at Market), San Francisco, (July 24 – Aug. 3) Click here for screenings.

Rayko Photo Center, 428 Third Street, San Francisco (Aug. 1) Click here for screenings.

California Theatre, 2113 Kittredge Street, Berkeley, (Aug. 1 – Aug 7) Click here for screenings.

Berkeley Repertory Theater, 2025 Addison St, Berkeley (Aug 2) Click here for screenings.

Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Avenue, Oakland (Aug. 8 – 10) Click here for screenings.

New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street, Oakland (Aug. 7) Click here for screenings.

CinéArts @ Palo Alto Square, 3000 El Camino Real Bldg #6, Palo Alto, (July 26 – July 31) Click here for screenings.

Smith-Rafael Film Center, 1118 4th Street, San Rafael (August 8-10) Click here for screenings.

Stay tuned to ARThound for detailed coverage of the festival’s 14 films which will be screened  at the acoustically stellar Smith-Rafael Film Center on Friday, August 8 through Sunday, August 10, 2014.

Details: San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 34 is July 24 to August 10, 2014. For general festival programming and to purchase tickets, visit www.sfjff.org or phone the Box Office at  415.621.0523. All-Festival passes, discount cards and special prices for students and seniors are available.

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

San Francisco’s Jewish Film Festival starts Thursday, July 19, with a broad line-up and a weekend of programming in Marin

Roberta Grossman’s “Hava Nagila (the Movie)” has its world preimere on the opening night of the 32nd San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Image: courtesy SFJFF

The 32nd San Francisco Jewish Film Festival opens Thursday evening at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre with the world premiere of Roberta Grossman’s Hava Nagila (the Movie),  a riveting history of “Hava Nagila,” the foot-tapping song that started with a wordless prayer and may be one of the world’s best known pieces of music.  Afterwards, the festivities continue with an Opening Night Bash at the Swedish American Hall hosted by some of the Bay Area’s best purveyors of food and drink.

The festival, a tradition enjoyed by film aficionados far and wide, runs July 19 to August 6, 2012, and includes 63 films from 17 countries, including a wide spectrum of stimulating discussions, international guests and wonderful parties.   There are seven Bay Area venues, one of which is the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.  Programming there includes 13 films and begins on the last weekend of the festival—Friday, August 4 through Sunday, August 6, 2012.  Stay tuned to ARThound for detailed coverage of the Marin segment.  For general festival programming and to purchase tickets, visit www.sfjff.org.

The 32nd San Francisco Jewish Film Festival: July 19 to August 6, 2012. Venues: Castro Theatre and Jewish Community Center in San Francisco; Roda Theatre at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley; CinéArts in Palo Alto; Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael; Art Murmur and the Piedmont Theatre in Oakland. (415) 621-0523. www.sfjff.org.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment