This year the festival will be showcasing more than 30 Jewish-themed films from various countries around the world. The running threads throughout the films will be of celebrating life, freedom of expression and human rights as seen through various eyes.
Included in the program are documentary, short-subject and feature-length films enhanced by in-person visting guest artists, actors, filmmakers and film scholars. There will be panel discussions led by the visiting artists for the enjoyment of festival patrons.
"I am so pleased with this year's line-up of films, which encompass a broad range of topics, including biographies of strong, compelling Jewish women, sweet coming-of-age films and historical documentaries," said Sandra Kraus, San Diego Jewish Film Festival producer. "In addition, this has been a banner year for Israeli films that help commemorate that nation's 60th anniversary."
Here are highlights from some of the films that will be showing at various venues in San Diego.
"¢ Feb. 7: The festival opens with the quirky comedy "Sixty Six." When Bernie Rubens expects his bar mitzvah to be the biggest day of his life, fate moves in to conspire against him. One hilarious mishap after another happens to his family, and all carefully planned details go awry. Starring Helen Bonham Carter of "Sweeney Todd" fame and Stephen Rea, who was in the hit film "The Crying Game" a few years ago.
"¢ Feb. 9: Nominated for three Israeli Academy Awards, "Dear Mr. Waldman" captured hearts in Israel. It's a coming-of-age story with a strong lesson on the healing powers of love. Ten-year-old Hilik learns his father (Rami Heuberger of "Schindler's List") thinks his son from his first marriage has survived and is now an advisor to President Kennedy. Hilik attempts to make his father's dream come true.
"¢ Also Feb. 9: Winner of the prestigious Camera d'Or for Best First Feature at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, "Jellyfish" shows joy in the unexpected as the film follows various Tel Aviv dwellers who experience life-altering moments. Also on the bill is the short "A Kiss is a Kiss is a Kiss," in which eight strangers are paired into four couples and then asked to kiss each other.
"¢ Feb. 9-10: "Three Mothers" was nominated for an astounding nine Israeli Academy Awards! It's an epic tale of Jewish triplets born in Egypt in 1942. When the girls move to Israel, personal dramas engulf Rose, Flora and Yasmin. Starring Gila Almagor.
"¢ Feb. 12: A stirring love story set against the background of the Holocaust, "A Love to Hide" focuses on a young woman who is forced to hide after she witnesses the killing of her parents and sister by the Nazis. She seeks refuge in Paris with her friend Jean and his lover Philippe. The two men must also fear discovery by the Nazis as their affair comes to light.
"¢ Feb. 13: "Beaufort" won the Silver Bear Award for Best Director at the 2007 Berlin Internatonal Film Festival. It is also the current submission for the upcoming Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film on Feb. 22. A young outpost commander is tested by an unseen enemy as Israel is preparing to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000.
"¢ Feb. 14: With an unusual theme, "The Galilee Eskimos" takes a look at the aging founders of a kibbutz in the hills who awake to find themselves abandoned. They learn to fend for themselves and can either die in the snow or remember their pioneering spirit and save the kibbutz.
"¢ Feb. 17: In a tribute to Jewish-American comediennes, the hilarious documentary "Making Trouble" shows how legendary performers challenged the notions of what it means to be Jewish, funny and female. Featured are the classic gals of laughter Joan Rivers, Gilda Radner, Fanny Brice, Molly Picon, Wendy Wasserstein and that red-hot mama, Sophie Tucker.
Additional events round out the series. On Friday, Feb. 8, at 10:30 a.m., there will be a special world-premiere showing of the documentary "Freedom on the Fence," about artists in Warsaw who displayed their posters in the rubble of World War II. The film will be held at the JCC's David and Dorothea Garfield Theatre followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, a luncheon and a tour of the Jewish/Polish poster exhibit at the Gotthelf Art Gallery.
The annual Joyce Forum will focus on emerging filmmakers on Monday, Feb. 11 at AMC La Jolla 12 Theaters, beginning at noon with "Tree of Life," about Italian-Jewish ancestors. At 5 p.m. will be "Paying for Justice," and concluding at 7:30 p.m. "Praying with Lior." The Joyce Forum was named for San Diego Jewish Film Festival founder Joyce Axelrod.
Ticket inquiries should be directed to (858) 362-1348.