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Our Ratings Guide to The 31st San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

As always, Filmbalaya is here to help you decide which films you should or should not see while planning your festival schedule.  I hope our subjective star ratings are of some use to you, and that no matter which films you decide to see that you enjoy them.  Click on the film titles for full review.

In Heaven Underground “It’s a beautiful film, and even if you are not Jewish, if you would like to see a documentary with such strong humanity, view this film.” – Tom

Phnom Penh Lullaby “Hardship.  Regret.  Pain.:  Three central themes brilliantly brought to life… evoked authentic feelings of somberness to which no narrative film has ever done for me before.” – Adam

The Queen Has No Name “A captivating testament to the art of editing and a film well worth your 85 minutes” – Adam

Skate Of Mind “A Romeo & Juliet version of Larry Clark‘s Kids…impressive skateboarding footage, capturing a window of time in one’s coming-of-age phase of life” – Adam

Strangers No More “This 40-minute short on the Bialik-Rogozin public school in Tel Aviv is an eye-opening reminder of the value of what quality teachers mean to both a child and the community.” – Adam

5 Weddings And A Felony “If Woody Allen was ever to make a documentary I would imagine it being something along the lines as this.” – Adam

100 Voices: A Journey Home “The performances in this documentary did strike a chord somewhere deep within me” – Adam

Mabul (The Flood) “This film’s power lies in its depth of revealing ones struggle when dealing with the downpour of physical and mental changes associated with the hell that is puberty.” – Adam

Precious Life “I can see why this film won the Israeli Academy Award for best documentary.” – Adam

Rabies “A whole lot of fun… more of a group with beer horror movie than an alone on the couch horror movie” – Nick

Bobby Fischer Against The World “There is an abundance of footage featuring Bobby Fischer that did appeal to the more voyeuristic side of me.” – Adam

Little Rose “See this film if you’re dying to see a spy movie on the big screen, just don’t expect The Lives of Others revisited.” – Adam

The Names of Love “Charming, cute, and funny but when you strip off all the bells an whistles, it’s remarkably average.” – Nick

Polish Bar “Polish Bar may not be the greatest of coming-of-age film, but it is entertaining enough to never lose my interest.” – Adam

The Round Up “The first half hour is the greatest flaw of this film and destroys its potential of being a beautiful tragedy.” – Tom

Click here for film schedule and to buy tickets


San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 2011

Once again, that moment to celebrate Jewish Cinema has arrived with the 31st Annual Jewish Film Festival (7/21 – 8/8).  Some highlights this year include:

  • Israeli’s first ever horror flick, Rabies
  • Two Kirk Douglas films (Spartacus and The Juggler), as well as an appearance by the legendary actor to accept this year’s Freedom Of Expression award
  • Jews In Toons: An uproarious evening with animation from The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy featuring a post film discussion with Mike Reiss, writer and producer for The Simpsons and creator of The Critic and Queer Duck.
  • Winner of last year’s Ophir (Israeli Academy Award) for best documentary, Precious Life
  • Free park screening of When Harry Met Sally

 As always, to help you plan your festival schedule, be sure to check back with Filmbalaya in the weeks leading up to the festival for spoiler-free reviews on many of the films.  Schedule, ticket, and venue information after the jump. Read More…

More San Francisco Jewish Film Festival Dates

Tali Shalom Ezer's film Surrogate

So you don’t want to travel to Berkely, Palo Alto or San Rafael but still want to see Jewish themed films?  Worry not, my fair and lazy San Franciscans.  The Jewish Film Festival may have finished its run at the Castro Theatre, but that does not mean you still can’t catch some more films that this years’ program has to offer.  On the weekend of August 7th and 8th the festival returns to our golden city, more specifically, the Jewish Community Center (3200 California Street).

Here is a list of the films:

Saturday, August 7

12:00pm 9 Years Later 2009, Israel (Documentary/Drama)

2:00pm Amoz Oz: The Nature of Dreams 2009,  (Documentary/Activism)

4:00pm Stalin Thought of You 2009, Netherlands, Russia (Documentary/Cartoonist)

6:30pm Jaffa 2009, France, Germany, Israel (Drama)

9:00pm Bena 2009, France, Israel (Drama)

Sunday, August 8

12:00pm Einsatzgruppen: The Death Brigades 2009, France (Documentary/Holocaust)

3:45pm My Perestroika 2010, USA, United Kingdom (Documentary/Russian Life) Director to appear in person

6:15pm Father’s Footsteps 2007, France, Israel (Crime/Drama)

8:30pm Surrogate 2008, Israel (Drama/Romance)

30th Annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival – Castro Schedule

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is the oldest and largest Jewish film festival in the world. The three-week summer festival kicks off at the Castro theatre and will then be featured at theatres at Berkeley, San Rafael, and Palo Alto.   The festival features contemporary and classic independent Jewish film from around the world.  Jewish or not though, I can guarantee you that there is something for almost everybody.

Below is a schedule of the films playing at the Castro Theatre.  Schedules for other theatres will follow within the week.

Saturday, July 24

11:00 am A Small Act 2009, USA (Documentary/Education)

1:30 pm Te Extrano (I Miss You) 2010, Argentina (Drama/Coming-of-age) Film is preceded by opening day bagel reception. Yummy!

4:oo pm Ilusiones Opticas 2009, Chili, France, Portugal (Comedy/Romance)

7:00 pm Saviors in the Night 2009, France, Germany (Drama, Holocaust) Opening Night film and Bash!

10:15 pm You Won’t Miss Me 2009, USA (Drama, Romance)

Sunday, July 25

11:00 am Grace Paley: Collected Shorts 2010, USA

1:15 pm Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story 2010, USA (Documentary/Narrated by Dustin Hoffman)

4:00 pm Lepke 1974, USA (Gangster/Crime) Followed by a panel discussion.

7:30 pm Gruber’s Journey 2008, Romania (Drama, Holocaust)

10:00 pm Scarface 1932, USA (Gangster/Crime) Followed by a panel discussion.

Monday, July 26

12:00 pm King of the Roaring 20’s – The Story of Arnold Rothstein 1961, USA (Gangster/Crime) Followed by a panel discussion.

2:15 pm The Wolberg Family 2009, France, USA (Drama/Coming-of-age)

4:30 pm Protektor 2009, Czech Republic (Drama/Holocaust)

7:00 pm Hungry Hearts 1922, USA  (Drama/Silent) With live score.

9:00 pm A Room and a Half 2008, Russia (Drama/Animation)

Tuesday, July 27

11:30 am Ahead of Time 2009, USA (Documentary/Journalism)

1:30 pm War Against the Weak 2010, USA (Documentary/Holocaust)

4:00 pm My So-Called Enemy 2010, USA (Documentary/Israeli-Arab Conflict) Director to appear in person.

6:30 pm Anita 2009, Argentina (Drama/Disability) Lead actor to appear for Q&A after the film.

9:15 pm The “Socalles” Movie 2010, Canada (Music/Comedy) Live musical performance after film.

Wednesday, July 28

11:30 am Mrs. Moscowitz and the Cats 2009, Israel (Drama/Romance)

Two films for the price of one! 1:15 pm Ingelore 2009, USA (Documentary/Holocaust) Surviving Hitler: A Love Story 2010, USA (Documentary/Suspense) Matinee is free!

4:00 pm Budrus 2009, USA (Documentary/Conflict)

6:30 pm Arab Labor: Season 2 2010, Israel (Comedy/Sitcom) Writer of the sitcom will be on hand for Q&A.

9:00 pm Army of Crime 2009, France (Drama/Human Rights)

Thursday, July 29

11:30 am Is Dialogue Possible? How Films Hepl us Talk About Israel (…or not) Filmmakers and professors discuss.

1:00 pm Bugsy 1991, USA (Gangster/Crime) Followed by a panel discussion on Jewish Gangsters in film.

3:45 pm Sayed Kashua – Forever Sacred 2009, Israel (Documentary) Sayed Kashua to appear in person.

6:00 pm A Film Unfinished 2009, Israel (Documentary/Holocaust) Director to appear in person.

8:45 pm The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground 2010, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Poland, USA (Documentary/Music) Director and members of the band to appear in person.

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