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5 Can’t-Miss Events At This Year’s San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

The 38th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, presented by the Jewish Film Institute, returns July 19–August 5, 2018 in five Bay Area cities. SFJFF is the largest Jewish cultural event in Northern California and the Bay Area’s annual celebration of excellence in independent cinema that showcases the diversity of global Jewish life. See complete film and schedule details at SFJFF.

This year’s Festival presents 67 films from 22 countries and over 40 filmmaker guests in attendance. Dates by location are: July 19–29 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco; July 26–August 2 at the Albany Twin Theater in Albany, July 21–26 at the CineArts Theatre in Palo Alto, August 3–5 at the Piedmont Theatre in Oakland, and August 3–5 at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.

Forward readers can use the code FORWARD38 through August 5 to receive discounts on all Festival tickets and passes, including special events, at SFJFF.

Festival Highlights

Thematic highlights of SFJFF38’s lineup champion women filmmakers behind and in front of the lens, explore multicultural Jewish identities and address the most pressing societal issues of today. Don’t miss selections from: Hands On / Hands Off: Anatomy of a Feminist Film Movement; black•ish / jew•ish; and the fifth annual Take Action Day, which presents award-winning social justice documentaries inspired by the Jewish value of tikkun olam.

Opening Night: Love, Gilda The Festival opens on July 19 at the historic Castro Theatre with a tribute to a comedy icon. Gilda Radner was an instant sensation when she burst onto the scene with her brilliant, fearless and uproarious SNL performances, and when she died after an epic battle with ovarian cancer, a piece of us left with her. Using rare personal recordings, clear-eyed journal entries and interviews with SNL cast members, this doc brings Radner back into our lives. The Opening Night selection of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, this is a one-time-only Bay Area Premiere with director Lisa D’Apolito and SNL cast member Laraine Newman in person. The film is followed by the Opening Night Bash at the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Closing Night: Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me SFJFF will close its Castro Theatre run with another showbiz documentary about a legendary performer, presented in partnership with The Museum of the African Diaspora with director Sam Pollard (a longtime collaborator of Spike Lee), in attendance. Featuring excerpts from his exhilarating performances and star-studded interviews, Pollard’s riveting documentary presents a very full and very human portrait of this complex, courageous and conflicted man.

Freedom of Expression Award: Liz Garbus & The Fourth Estate With a life-long commitment to exploring systematic injustice, the work of Liz Garbus, a two-time Academy Award nominee, Peabody winner and Emmy winner is a true embodiment of the Festival’s most prestigious award. Garbus will be on hand to present her latest documentary, The Fourth Estate – a riveting, cinema verité look at The New York Times and its coverage of the first hundred days of the Trump Administration – and discuss her career with fellow filmmaker Bonni Cohen, director of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.

SFJFF is also thrilled to team up with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival to present the 1924 film The City Without Jews, which will be accompanied by an original live score from local artists Sascha Jacobsen and the Musical Art Quintet on Sunday, July 22 at the Castro Theatre. In this biting satire about anti-Semitism, the Jews of mythical Utopia are blamed for a stagnant economy and expelled, then begged to return when the economy worsens. Believed to have been lost until a copy was discovered in a Paris flea market in 2015, this painstakingly restored silent gem makes its international premiere at SFJFF38.

Other Big Nights include: Centerpiece Narrative To Dust, a quirky, dark comedy from wunderkind director Shawn Snyder starring Matthew Broderick as a bumbling biology professor who helps an Orthodox Jew through the mourning process over his late wife; Centerpiece Documentary The Waldheim Waltz about the stunning 1986 Austrian presidential election of Kurt Waldheim with very current insights about nationalist demagoguery; the World Premiere of Who Will Write Our History, the most important untold story of the Holocaust, from director Roberta Grossman (Seeing Allred, Hava Nagila: The Movie); and The Man Who Stole Banksy, a compelling chronicle of a Banksy piece’s theft from the West Bank and journey through the global art black market, narrated by Iggy Pop, which anchors the Festival’s Next Wave sidebar.

Bay Area interests are well represented in Satan & Adam, from Oakland-based filmmaker V. Scott Balcerek about an unlikely blues duo between a white Jewish kid and a black street performer and Elizabeth Rynecki’s feature debut Chasing Portraits, a personal documentary about her great-grandfather’s lost art. TV lovers can also enjoy two binge-worthy Israeli series, Commandments and When Heroes Fly while arts lovers will have much to learn from Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes about the legendary jazz label and Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story about one of Israel’s most beloved humorists and writers.

For the complete lineup of films along with a full complement of discussion programs, international guests, awards, and celebrations, visit SFJFF or contact [email protected]. For Box Office information, please contact [email protected] or call 415.621.0523.

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