60 Films Strong: La Jolla Jewish Film Fest Feb. 6-16
By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt
February is just around the corner, which means the San Diego Jewish Film Festival (SDJFF) is back in town. Now in its 24th
year, San Diego’s longest-running film fest offers 11 days of dramas, comedies and documentaries from more than a dozen countries — films that celebrate life, human rights, and the diversity of the Jewish experience.
Sponsored once again by the Leichtag Foundation, this year’s movies will be shown at five different venues: Reading Cinemas 14 in Clairemont, Carlsbad Village Theatre, San Marcos Stadium 18, ArcLight Cinemas at Westfield UTC-La Jolla, and the Garfield Theatre at La Jolla’s Lawrence Family JCC.
Special events include panel discussions, a Teen Screen and three programs of exceptional short films at the ArcLight on Feb. 10.
The festival has a new director, Craig Prater, who comes with tremendous enthusiasm and terrific credentials. Among other things, he’s been director of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Bangkok International Film Festival, and film festivals in Greece, Serbia and the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance, and he’s ready to take the fourth- largest Jewish film fest in the country even higher.
Among the 60-plus films that are part of SDJFF’s 2014 lineup, Prater has his own personal favorites:
■ “Bethlehem.” (Israel/ Belgium/Germany, 2012) The story of a complex relationship between an Israeli Secret Service officer and his teenage Palestinian informant. Clairemont, 6:15 p.m. Feb. 8; San Marcos, 4 p.m. Feb. 9; Carlsbad, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 15.
• Craig’s Comments: “It was Israel’s submission to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and it’s a creative masterpiece.”
■ “Aftermath.” (Poland, 2012) Based on actual events, a story about a man who returns to his native village in present-day Poland and uncovers a secret whose deadly power still persists after 50 years. Clairemont, 7:45 p.m. Feb. 11; Carlsbad, 8:30 p.m. Feb. 13.
• Craig’s Comments: “It’s the No. 1 film from Poland and certainly the most talked-about. It’s strong, it’s provocative and the intrigue is terrific.”
■ “Naomi.” (Israel/France, 2010) A film in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock and the Coen brothers about guilt, love, devotion and what happens when a respected professor discovers his young wife’s infidelity. Clairemont, 5 p.m. Feb. 13.
• Craig’s Comments: “A wonderful thriller with a surprise ending.”
■ “Nathan.” (Ireland/U.K./ U.S./France, 2013) The strange tale of one of the founding fathers of French cinema. Clairemont, 1:30 p.m. Feb. 16.
• Craig’s Comments: “An edgy documentary that leaves you full of questions.”
■ “Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story.” (France, 2008) The true story of the largest rescue action by a single person during the Holocaust. Carlsbad 7 p.m. Feb. 8; Clairemont, 1 p.m. Feb. 16
• Craig’s Comments: “The remarkable story of a Portugese official who defied his prime minister and illegally helped thousands of Jews escape, without history knowing who he was or what he did. After the film, the president of the Sousa Mendes Foundation will be present to give an update to the story.”
— For a schedule of all the films, visit sdjff.org
San Diego Jewish Film Festival
■ Schedule and Tickets: sdjff.org
■ Four Filmfest Factoids
1.“Brave Miss World” is a documentary about a former beauty queen who was brutally raped and now helps others speak out, and is the festival’s centerpiece film. Director Cecelia Peck, who co-directed the 2006 award-winner “Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing,” is the daughter of actor Gregory Peck.
2. “The Congress” is a futuristic animation/live action feature by Ari Folman, writer/ director of the award-winning “Waltz with Bashir.” It will be followed by a discussion with international film professors and critics. Folman’s next project: an animated life of Anne Frank.
3. “Walking with the Enemy” features Ben Kingsley, and is a true-story-based epic about two different men confronting Nazi power in occupied Hungary. First-time producer/director Mark Schmidt is a San Diegan, and part of the film was shot in San Diego County.
4. “Rolling Romance” is a dark comedy about online disabled dating, and one of the Joyce Forum Short Films to be shown on Feb. 10. The screenwriter, Del Mar resident Michael Carnick, has spent most of his life in a wheelchair, and based the story on one of his own dating experiences. He will be present at the screening.
- Jewish Film Fest to offer La Jolla filmgoers a celebration of New York, diversity
- Film fest boosts its La Jolla screenings with move to ArcLight
- ArcLight in La Jolla to screen film credited with spreading reggae worldwide, Sept. 4-5
- ArcLight Cinemas opens 14-screen theater at Westfield UTC mall
- Film to tell story of songwriting Sherman Brothers
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