Archive for January 8, 2010

20th San Diego Jewish Film Festival will offer 51 movies on variety of topics

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment


SAN DIEGO (Press Release) – The 20th Anniversary San Diego Jewish Film Festival, sponsored by the Mizel Family Foundation, and presented by the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS, will run February 10-21, 2010. 

The San Diego Jewish Film Festival showcases more than 50 of the best contemporary Jewish themed films from around the world celebrating life, human rights, and freedom of expression.  The mission of the Film Festival is to offer outstanding world cinema that promotes awareness, appreciation and pride in the diversity of the Jewish people to attendees of the community at large.  Festival programs aim to educate and illuminate through evocative, independent fiction and documentary films that portray the Jewish experience from current to historic global perspectives.

In addition to the carefully selected short-subject, documentary, and feature length films, the Film Festival features an international roster of visiting guest artists, including actors, filmmakers, and scholars, who introduce their work, participate in panel discussions, and meet and greet with the festival patrons. 

“This year we are excited to celebrate twenty years of Jewish film and the San Diego Community who helped make it happen!  We started in a gymnasium with three films and boxes of Entenmanns cookies.  Less than 100 people attended the first festival and today we are the host to thousands of San Diegans as well as folks from all over the country.” said Sandra Kraus, Producer of the San Diego Jewish Film Festival.  “Many of our films will go on to be commercially released and once again a couple are being considered for Oscar nominations.  It is our hope that San Diegans will use the festival as an opportunity to learn, love, laugh, and experience the world.”

The Film Fest Heads North

This year the festival has added a new location at the UltraStar Cinemas in La Costa in order to better serve the North County Coastal community.  These films will play on Feb. 11 – 14th, featuring four films: The Wedding Song, Brothers, William Kunstler Disturbing the Universe (exclusive screening to La Costa) and Jerusalem Syndrome.  On Thur., Feb. 11, at 6:00 p.m. there will be a mixer held prior to the film, The Wedding Song, to welcome the community.  Ticket price of $20 – $22 includes the mixer and film screening.

Film Highlights

Wed., Feb. 10, Sat., Feb. 13 and Thu., Feb 18 – Opening the festival is A Matter of Size where Herzl is a shy 340-pound man living with his mother in Ramle. Fired from his job because of his unpresentable image, and dumped by his weight-loss group because he keeps adding rather than shedding pounds, he takes a job as a dishwasher in a Japanese restaurant.  There, he discovers the one activity where girth is a virtue – and fat guys can be rock stars – sumo wrestling! A USA version of this film is currently in development. 

Thurs., Feb. 11, and Tue., Feb. 16 –  Karen Albou (France) directs The Wedding Song.  In 1942 Tunis, two teen girls, Nour, a Muslim, and Myriam a Jew, find their childhood friendship threatened by the political realities of the Nazi invasion. While Nour envies Myriam her education, Myriam yearns for the true love Nour shares with her fiancé, especially when Myriam is forced into an arranged marriage with a rich but much older doctor in order to help her mother pay the Jew tax that Hitler imposes.

Thurs., Feb. 11 – Mary & Max, an animated feature film, inspired by the real-life experience of its Oscar-winning filmmaker Adam Elliot (Harvie Krumpet), this stop-motion feature portrays the 20-year pen pal friendship of Mary Dinkle (Toni Collette), a chubby lonely 8-year old from Melbourne, and Max Horowitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an obese isolated 44-year old New Yorker with Asperger’s Syndrome. Masterfully narrated by Barry Humpries, this is a truly exceptional portrait of compassion and love.

Tue., Feb. 16 – In Where I Stand: the Hank Greenspun Story, Anthony Hopkins narrates this story of the Brooklyn kid who became a Vegas titan.  His colorful career as a “give ‘em hell” newspaperman would be unbelievable as fiction.  As much a newsmaker as a reporter, the outspoken Greenspun ran guns to the new state of Israel, stood up against Joseph McCarthy, recruited Howard Hughes to buy out the Vegas mob, ended segregation on the Strip, and protested nuclear waste dumping in Nevada.

Thurs., Feb 18 – The Jazz Baroness, voiced by Oscar winner Helen Mirren, tells the story of the dozen postwar jazz tunes named for “Nica” in honor of the genre’s most unlikely patron – British Jewish Baroness Pannonica who left her life of family, wealth and decadence to follow her flamboyant passion for jazz. To her family’s horror, Nica (Mirren) sheltered and fed her talented black friends, bailed them out of jail, and even went to jail herself! She helped men like Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins, but most scandalously of all, fell in love with the jazz genius Thelonious Monk and formed a ménage with his wife Nellie to sustain Monk’s work despite his mental illness. Nica’s great-niece Hannah Rothschild interviews luminaries including Quincy Jones and the Duchess of Devonshire to create a haunting answer to the “puzzle of Pannonica.”

Sun., Feb. 21 – The Shadow Effect features New York Times bestselling author Debbie Ford, a San Diegan, an internationally acclaimed expert on the human shadow who has led thousands of people from around the world through her renowned Shadow Process Workshop.  Now, in this groundbreaking film, she exposes the perils and promise of the human shadow and the gifts that it delivers.  Deepak Choprah, Holocaust survivor (and San Diegan) Edie Eger, and others also make appearances in this life-altering journey film.  Debbie Ford will be present for a post Q&A discussion.

Fri., Feb. 12 and Fri., Feb 19 – In celebration of twenty years of Jewish Film the festival will bring back audience favorites from the past years.  DeJa View Fridays will showcase Leon the Pig Farmer, All I’ve Got, Oscar winning West Bank Story, Gefilte Fish and Chicks in White Satin.  Chicks features local San Diegans, Debra and Heidi Stern-Ellis, embraces the notion of lesbian weddings and incorporates a sly critique of the traditional trappings of nuptials, straight or otherwise.  The film’s subjects will be present with their children for a post Q&A.

 Sun., Feb 14 and Sun., Feb 21 – Our Friday morning Forums have been moved by popular demand!  Our first film on Sunday will feature a speaker panel to discuss the film topics.  The first Sunday will feature a film by the Oscar winning director Richard Trank, Against the Tide.  Dustin Hoffman narrates the film and Trank will be a featured panel speaker at the AMC La Jolla.  On Feb. 21, the film Look into My Eyes will focus on anti-Semitism in the media and its effect on the viewer’s position.  Filmmaker Naftaly Gilksberg will be a panel guest.

Baby & Me Movie

On Mon., Feb. 15, 11:00 a.m., there is a screening at the David & Dorothea Garfield Theatre especially for Moms and Dads with children under one year of age.  This is a chance for parents to see a first-rate feature with no need to find a babysitter or worry if the baby cries during the film.  Parents are invited to pack the diaper bag, bring the stroller, and enjoy Adam’s Wall, which takes place in Montreal’s Mile End, the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in Canada, where a Jewish teen and a Lebanese girl fall in love.  Together, Adam and Yasmin face the walls separating them – the ongoing feud between their families, the differing viewpoints between generations, and the raging conflict in the Middle East. Babies are free; parent tickets are $7.50. 

Teen Screen Night

On Tue., Feb. 16, 6:00 p.m., at the AMC La Jolla 12 Theatres, a pizza dinner (for teens only) will be followed by the screening of a film selected for teenagers.  Teen Screen is open to teens 18 and under at no charge.  Eli & Ben: Eli’s father Ben is accused of taking bribes and is arrested.  Eli is convinced of his father’s innocence and feels like a double agent when he is questioned by the police and begins to discover the truth.

Flix Mix Evening

A “Flix Mix” evening on Sat., Feb. 13, offers the opportunity for young professional film fans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s to view Breaking Upwards at 8:15 p.m. at the UltraStar Mission Valley.  The screening will be preceded by a 7 p.m. mixer, with special guests Director Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones, at the AMC in the Festival Hospitality Lounge, where participants can meet, mingle, and enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  Tickets will be distributed from the JCC Box Office or may be picked up at Will Call one hour prior to show time at the theatre.  ID will be required to guarantee discounted pricing of $19 in advance or $23 at the door.

 The 8th Annual Joyce Forum – A celebration of Emerging Filmmakers and the Joyce Jubilee

The Joyce Forum presents outstanding Jewish-themed short-subject, documentary, and feature films by student and early-career filmmakers from around the world.  Named in honor of San Diego Jewish Film Festival Founder Joyce Axelrod, the Joyce Forum supports emerging filmmakers by showcasing their talent and exposing their work to established filmmakers, artists, and industry peers. 

This year’s Joyce Forum takes place on Mon., Feb. 15, at the AMC La Jolla 12 Theatres.  Part One begins at 1:30 p.m., with the screening of five short films, including The Kiddush Man, Mendel’s Tree, Lost Paradise, Saturday’s Shadow and Shred of Hope.  Part Two begins at 4:00 p.m., and includes shorts from the Ma’ale school in Israel: I’m Ready, A Jerusalem Tale, A Shabbos Mother, and Willingly. The director of Willingly and representative for the school, Pazit Lichtman, will be in attendance.

The shorts programs will be followed by the Joyce Jubilee, a celebration to honor Joyce Axelrod for her vision of founding the festival and her dedication to emerging filmmakers (Joyce is one herself). The celebration will take place in the Festival Hospitality Lounge and reservations are required.

The Joyce Forum concludes with the 8:00 p.m. screening of Off and Running, a film made by local filmmaker Nicole Opper.  Nicole will be attending the West Coast debut of her film here in her hometown.  Off and Running features Avery, an African-American teen, raised Jewish, living in a multi-cultural home with her lesbian adoptive parents, her Korean brother and her mixed race brother.  Opper has been named one of the top 25 filmmakers in the U.S. to watch by Filmmaker Magazine.

The Joy F. Knapp Charitable Foundation has generously provided tickets for special populations to attend the screening of this film.

General Information

The San Diego Jewish Film Festival takes place at the AMC La Jolla 12 Theatres, UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas at Hazard Center, Ultra Star at La Costa, Reading Carmel Mountain, and at the David & Dorothea Garfield Theatre at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS, 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla.  San Diego Jewish Film Festival presentations at the AMC La Jolla 12 Theatres are made possible by the Joy F. Knapp Film Festival Endowment Fund.

Single ticket prices for most films are $11.25 for JCC members and $13.25 for non-members; opening and closing night films are $13-$15, DeJa View Fridays are “1989 Prices” at $6-$7, and Shorts in Winter are $7.50.  Festival passes, senior and student discounts, and group rate discounts are available.  For tickets or information call 858-362-1348 or visit

Preceding provided by the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture