Big Nights

SFJFF39's Big Nights honor stories big and small that illuminate the diversity of Jewish experiences, champion freedom of expression, and delight with their wit and charm. This year's Festival features powerful panels, partnerships with fellow arts organizations, and more.

The Red Sea Diving Resort | SFJFF39's CLOSING NIGHT FILM

The Red Sea Diving Resort | SFJFF39's CLOSING NIGHT FILM

Inspired by one of the most remarkable true life rescue missions ever, The Red Sea Diving Resort is the incredible story of a group of international agents and brave Ethiopians who in the early 80s used a deserted holiday retreat in Sudan as a front to smuggle thousands of refugees to Israel. Chris Evans (Captain America, Avengers) plays Ari Levninson, the Mossad agent who leads the mission together with courageous local Kabede Bimro, played by Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire). Posed as naive European entrepreneurs, the team he leads take advantage of the Sudanese government’s interest in expanding its feeble Ministry of Tourism to purchase a strategically located property along the Red Sea. Their plans are thrown for a loop, however, when real tourists begin arriving, expecting service.

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Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles | SFJFF39's OPENING NIGHT FILM

Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles | SFJFF39's OPENING NIGHT FILM

The documentary tells the story behind Broadway musical "Fiddler on The Roof" and its creative roots in early 1960s New York. “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” includes interviews with the Broadway show’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning lyricist Sheldon Harnick, legendary producer Hal Prince, original cast members, such as Austin Pendleton, as well as rare archival footage of choreographer Jerome Robbins.

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Judith Helfand: Freedom of Expression Award 2019

Judith Helfand: Freedom of Expression Award 2019

In July 1995, a heat wave overtook Chicago: high humidity and a layer of heat-retaining pollution drove the heat index up to more than 126 degrees. City roads buckled, rails warped, electric grids failed, thousands became ill and people began to die - by the hundreds. Cooked tells the story of this heat wave, the most traumatic in U.S. history, in which 739 Chicago citizens died in a single week, most of them poor, elderly, and African American. Balancing serious and somber with her respectful, albeit ironic and and signature quirkly style, Peabody award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand explores this drama that, when peeled away, reveals the less newsworthy but long-term crisis of pernicious poverty, economic, and social isolation and racism. Cooked is a story about life, death, and the politics of crisis in an American city.

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The Amazing Johnathan Documentary | CENTERPIECE DOCUMENTARY

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary | CENTERPIECE DOCUMENTARY

It begins as a documentary about “The Amazing Johnathan,” a uniquely deranged magician who built a career out of shock and deception in the 1980s—but becomes a bizarre story about the unravelling of his documentarian.

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Tel Aviv On Fire | CENTERPIECE NARRATIVE

Tel Aviv On Fire | CENTERPIECE NARRATIVE

Salam, an inexperienced young Palestinian man, becomes a writer on a popular soap opera after a chance meeting with an Israeli soldier. His creative career is on the rise - until the soldier and the show's financial backers disagree about how the show should end, and Salam is caught in the middle.

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Mamboniks, The | Song and Dance

Mamboniks, The | Song and Dance

Bagels meet bongos in ""The Mamboniks,"" a feature-length documentary that tells the little-known story of the Jewish love affair with Latin music and dance. Set in New York, Havana, Miami Beach and the Catskill Mountains, this fun, uplifting film features a lovable, somewhat zany collection of dancers from the 1950s. Now retired yet still dancing, they share their passion for the mambo, the hot dance from Cuba that became a world-wide sensation. With an infectious soundtrack including Tito Puente, Celia Cruz and mambo king Pérez Prado, this film explores a mostly unexamined aspect of Jewish life and culture.

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My Polish Honeymoon | Palo Alto Opening Night

My Polish Honeymoon | Palo Alto Opening Night

Anna and Adam, a young Parisian couple with Jewish origins, are about to travel to Poland for the first time. They are just married and technically speaking this will be their honeymoon. They will attend a ceremony in memory of the Jewish community in the village of Adam's grandfather, which was destroyed 75 years ago.

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Picture of His Life | EAST BAY OPENING NIGHT

Picture of His Life | EAST BAY OPENING NIGHT

"Amos Nachoum is one of the greatest underwater photographers of all times.Fascinated by the most fearsome creatures on Earth, he has developed a unique approach, that puts him face to face with his subjects, without any protection. He has swam with and photographed Anacondas, Giant Leopard Seals, Great White Sharks, Orcas and Crocodiles, but Now, at the age of 65, he is about to face his ultimate challenge: to swim, face face, unprotected with A Polar Bear.While he is on this journey to the Canadian high Arctic, he will also have to deal with an old and painful memory…."

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Safe Spaces | Next Wave Spotlight

Safe Spaces | Next Wave Spotlight

"Safe Spaces" is a comedy about a NYC professor who spends a week re-connecting with his family while defending his reputation over controversial behavior at a college.

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What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael | Local Spotlight

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael | Local Spotlight

Pauline Kael is among the most famous and divisive film critics of all time. Her praise helped uplift the careers of Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and others, while her putdowns left lasting wounds. She was a pioneering woman in a male chauvinistic world. This nuanced portrait captures her complexity while revisiting late-twentieth-century cinema through her lens, using ample film clips, never-before-seen archival, wide-ranging interviews and her writings voiced by Sarah Jessica Parker.

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Curtiz | SFJFF In Good Company

Curtiz | SFJFF In Good Company

As America prepares to enter WW2, Hungarian film director Michael Curtiz grapples with political intervention and a dysfunctional relationship with his estranged daughter amid the troubled production of Casablanca in 1942.

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Abe | Film & Feast

Abe | Film & Feast

The Israeli-Jewish side of his family calls him Avram. The Palestinian-Muslim side Ibrahim. His first-generation American agnostic lawyer parents call him Abraham. But the 12-year-old kid from Brooklyn who loves food and cooking, prefers, well, Abe. Just Abe.

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SFJFF Community Shabbat Challah

Welcome the Filmmakers of the 39th annual Jewish Film Festival to San Francisco

Join the Jewish Film Institute staff and board in welcoming the artists and filmmakers celebrated in this year's lineup to San Francisco at the SFJFF39 Community Shabbat Dinner. This annual upscale Shabbat celebration is open to members and the general public.

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All-Festival Pass

$395 Members / $420 General Public
The best way to explore SFJFF in style. The All Festival Pass gives you priority entry to every moment of SFJFF39 at every venue, including Big Nights, regular screenings and any additional ticketed events (some exceptions may apply). Become a JFI member at the Patron level and receive an All Festival Pass in addition to a year's worth of member benefits!

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