Jewish Film Fest to offer La Jolla filmgoers a celebration of New York, diversity
If you go
■ What: Jewish Film Festival
■ When: Feb. 7-17
■ Tickets: $10.75-$13.75
■ Box Office: (858) 362-1348
■ Schedule: sdjfff.org or brochure at the Jewish Community Center, 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla
By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt
With 47 films from 10 countries, San Diego’s 23rd annual Jewish Film Festival (Feb. 7-17) is looking better than ever.
Since its modest beginnings in 1990, with seven films and about 40 attendees, the SDJFF has become the fourth largest Jewish film fest in the country, filling over 16,000 seats every year.
Under the sponsorship of the Leichtag Foundation, films will be shown at four different venues: Garfield Theatre at La Jolla’s JCC; Reading Cinemas 14 in Clairemont; Edwards San Marcos Stadium 18; and the Dove Library in Carlsbad.
The new Festival Chair is Saundra Saperstein, who has been film-connected for most of her life. She was media director of the Sundance Film Festival for 18 years, then marketing director for the State of Utah Film Commission, and media consultant for the Maui Film Festival. Since moving here four years ago, she has been involved with the SDJFF, rising from focus groups to last year’s festival co-chair. She’s also on the board of San Diego’s Italian Film Festival.
This year, she noted, as the selection committee was choosing the films, so many seemed to have something to do with New York that the city emerged as a theme of the festival, spotlighting some of the people, places and events that have made the Big Apple what it is.
Asked which films were her personal favorites, she at first demurred. “I love them all,” she said. “When my La Jolla cousin asked me what films to see, I went down the list, and found myself checking every one!”
Then she came up with a short list that, like the festival itself, is interesting and diverse, including two documentaries, an unusual family drama, and an “adorable” romantic comedy.
Saundra’s Big Four
1) “Melting Away”: A moving drama from Israel about a transgender teen rejected by her parents who finds a way back into the family. (Showing Feb. 9, 13, 16)
2) “The Brother who sent the Rosenbergs to the Electric Chair”: A different perspective on the infamous case of the couple executed for spying in 1953. (Feb. 12 and 13)
3) “Ordinary Miracles: the Photo League’s New York”: The rise and fall of an organization which was, from the 1930s through the early ’50s, the hub of documentary photography. The co-directors will be present at the screenings. (Feb. 13 and 14)
4) “Paris-Manhattan”: This story of a single woman enthralled by her fantasy of Woody Allen is the first feature film from a French writer-director so enthralled by Allen’s movies that she became a filmmaker herself. (Feb. 9 and 16)
Jewish Film Festival Highlights
■All About Arts
• ‘Under African Skies’ celebrates the 25th anniversary of Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ with a look at the controversy surrounding the making of the album that started the craze for ‘world music.’ (Feb. 7, 12, and 13)
• ‘Art of Spiegelman,’ about the underground cartoonist who won a Pulitzer Prize for ‘Maus’ (a graphic novel about his father’s Holocaust memories), and the comix-artists he influenced; and ‘Life in Stills,’ about a grandmother and grandson who join forces to save a historic photographic shop in Tel Aviv. (Feb. 13)
• ‘Downtown Express,’ a young violinist is torn between a concert-hall career and life and love in NYC’s underground music scene. (Feb. 10)
• ‘Joe Papp in 5 Acts,’ a dramatic portrait of the groundbreaking producer/director who founded NYC’s Shakespeare in the Park and The Public Theater, where ‘Hair’ and ‘A Chorus Line’ were born. (Feb. 14 and 16)
■ Special Events
• Joyce Forum/Shorts in Winter: (Named for SDJFF Founding Chair Joyce Axelrod) Seven films for $7.50. (2 p.m. Feb. 11, Clairemont)
• Free Teen Screen: ‘Stories from an Undeclared War,’ the continuing saga of 150 at-risk Freedom Writers from Long Beach, inspired by their teacher, Erin Gruwell, and ‘The Diary of Anne Frank.’ Post-film discussion with Gruwell and several of the Freedom Writers. (6 p.m. Feb. 12, Clairemont)
• Family Day: ‘Shalom Sesame!’ ages 3-7 (11:30 a.m. Feb. 17, Clairemont)
• Flix-Mix: Mixer for 20- and 30-somethings precedes showing of ‘Dorfman,’ an award- winning rom-com that’s also a love-letter to L.A. (3 p.m. Feb. 10, Clairemont)
- What Comes to Mind: Joyce Cutler-Shaw’s art exhibit combines nature, science at La Jolla’s Athenaeum
- Art museums in La Jolla and San Diego launch collaborative ‘Behold, America!’
- Wes Bruce brings storehouse of memories to Lux Art Institute in San Diego County
- ArcLight Cinemas opens 14-screen theater at Westfield UTC mall
- Film to tell story of songwriting Sherman Brothers
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