26th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival Program Highlights

san diego jewish film festival

The 26th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival returns on February 4 through February 14, presented by the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture, showcasing 60 of the best contemporary Jewish themed films from around the world at five different venues throughout San Diego.

The San Diego Jewish Film Festival aims to educate and illuminate through evocative, independent fiction and documentary films that portray the Jewish experience from current to historic global perspectives. The festival will also host international artists, including actors, filmmakers, and scholars, who will introduce their work, participate in panel discussions, and meet and greet with festival goers. Not sure what to see? We’ve got you covered! Check out what not to miss at this year’s San Diego Jewish Film Festival.

This year’s opening film, which took place on February 4th, was the film THE PRICE OF SUGAR, directed by Jean van de Veide. A story about two half- sisters and their life in eighteenth century Suriname. Another highlight on February 6th is the film MOUNTAIN, directed by Yaelle Kayam, about a young Orthodox Jewish woman who becomes ensconced in a nocturnal community of prostitutes and drug dealers that congregates near her home in the ancient cemetery atop Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.

SEE ALSO: February San Diego Museum Month – Half-Off Admission

On February 7th, the festival will feature the West Coast premiere of A LIFE FOR FOOTBALL directed by Hans Steinbichler. The film dramatizes the story of Munich-based soccer team FC Bayern and its club president, Kurt Landauer, a Jew who returned to Munich after the war to reinstate the club and the game in the city. The film, based on a true story, is a wonderful recounting of Landauer’s passion for the game, his contribution to a slice of European soccer history, and the efforts of one man to rebuild the spirit of a team, city, and country in post-WWII Europe.

Another sports film is VICTOR YOUNG PEREZ, directed by Jacques Quaniche, tells the astonishing, harrowing, and incredible true story of a Tunisian Jewish boxer who became the World Flyweight Champion in 1931 and 1932. But because of his Jewish heritage, Perez was arrested in Paris on September 21, 1943, and transported to Auschwitz. While there he was forced to participate in boxing matches for the amusement of the Nazis. By 1945, Victor had survived 140 bouts in 15 months and won 139.

February 8th will be devoted to 22 short films, a juried competitive program of short films with awards being presented Tuesday, February 9th at the ArcLight Theatres in La Jolla. This collection of short films includes four different programs made up of 22 of the best short films with Jewish storylines. In addition, there will be special appearances by some of the filmmakers at the screenings for a “talkback” after the films. Tuesday’s program starts at 10:00am and runs until 7:30pm at the ArcLight Theatres (UTC) La Jolla.

On February 9, at the Clairemont Reading 14 catch the San Diego premiere of THE SINGING ABORTIONIST directed by Dara Bratt. Holocaust survivor. Womanizer. Pro-choice crusader. Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who passed away in 2013, is often referred to as the most loved and hated man in Canada. But little is known about the contradictions behind the activist. This documentary explores how surviving Nazi Germany played a profound impact in sculpting Dr. Morgentaler’s activism in the pro-choice movement. Also on February 9th, the festival will feature a FlixMix Young Adult screening of the comedy DOUGH directed by John Goldschmidt, starring British actor Jonathan Pryce. An old Jewish baker (Jonathan Pryce) struggles to keep his business afloat until his young Muslim apprentice accidentally drops cannabis in the dough and challah starts flying off the shelves. DOUGH is a warmhearted and gently humorous story about overcoming prejudice and finding redemption in unexpected places.

On February 13, at the David and Dorothea Garfield Theater (LFJCC), watch the San Diego premiere of WEDDING DOLL directed by Nitzan Gilady. Fixated on romantic fantasies, a kindly and strong-willed young woman with a mild mental disability embarks on a relationship — much to the concern of her protective mother.

Another highlight is the film DYING TO KNOW: RAM DASS & TIMOTHY LEARY screening on February 14th. Narrated by Robert Redford, DYING TO KNOW incorporates the life stories of Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert) and Timothy Leary, two iconic figures whose research into psychedelics changed a generation. Now, nearly 50 years later, we are able to see rare footage of their interviews, hear their voices, and learn the fascinating elements of the controversial experiments that these two former Harvard professors conducted.

Finally, the official closing film is SABENA HIJACKING – MY VERSION based on a true story and a nominated film of the Israeli Academy Awards, directed by Rani Saar. SABENA HIJACKING: MY VERSION is a powerful, suspenseful docu-drama based on previously undiscovered audio recordings of the former pilot Captain Reginald Levy. Captain Levy (now deceased) was in command of Sabena Flight 571 from Brussels, Belgium, to Tel Aviv, Israel, on May 8, 1972, when it was hijacked by four members of “Black September” – the armed wing of Fatah, or the Palestine Liberation Organization. The film finally shares the untold story of what exactly took place on the flight throughout 30 hours of nerve-wracking captivity.

Ticket prices range from $13.75 – $15.75, ($13.75 for JCC members and $15.75 for non-members). Festival passes, senior & student discounts, and group rate discounts are available. For tickets or information call 858-362-1348 or visit www.sdjff.org.

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Vanessa Turkeltaub
Vanessa Turkeltaub graduated from UC San Diego with a BA in Communication. She has been with Blue Book Publishers for over 5 years, and has written over five-hundred La Jolla related articles. She enjoys going to concerts, art, and traveling. (vanessa@lajollabluebook.com)

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