2 0 0 3 F e s t i v a l

Monsieur Batignole
Director: Gérard Jugnot
France, 2001, color, French, w. English subtitles,100 minutes

Director: Gérard Jugnot
France, 2001, color, French, w. English subtitles,100 minutes

It's 1942 in stormy, occupied Paris and times are hard for just about everyone. So who can blame Edmond Batignole, only a small businessman, for trying to get by? Who is he to object if the German Kommandant takes a liking to the foie gras he serves in his small, family delicatessen? Who is he to turn down a few francs? Why should he take notice if his Jewish neighbors are arrested? Batignole is surrounded by a colorful battery of French characters, who are all trying to make the best of their situation. Some collaborate with the Germans, while others resist. Batignole merely wants to make a living, yet because of his daughter's zealously pro-German fiance, he begins a long, slippery slide into full collaboration with the Germans. Then, unexpectedly, a Jewish child he knows asks him for help and Batignole can no longer keep his head in the sand. Gerard Jugnot, a director of popular social comedies, finds just the right tone in this bittersweet tale of innocence lost-which becomes taut as a thriller-when an ordinary man suddenly faces extraordinary life and death choices while his own redemption hangs in the balance.
Underwritten by: Gloria & Ken Levy

Trumpet In The Wadi

Directors: Lina and Slava Chaplin
Israel, 2001, color, Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles, 97 minutes

Based on the novel by Sami Michael, this is an impossible love story between two outsiders in Israel: Huda, a Christian Arab, who lives in Haifa and works at an Israeli-owned travel agency, and Alex, a new Jewish immigrant from Russia. Alex woos her with the magical tunes he plays on his trumpet, and Huda has to decide whether to follow her heart. The two lovers have to face many obstacles, especially Huda’s objecting family and the political scenario in Israel.
Award for Best Feature Film, Haifa International Film Festival, 2002
Underwritten by:
Harvey Belsky Charitable Foundations


Director: Lesley Sharon Rosenthal
Ausrtralia, 2002, English, 10 minutes

Can traditional Jewish cuisine ever make its debut on the international gourmet scene? Does it need a modern day Viking to take it there? Danish born non-Jewish chef Henrik Iversen believes in preserving the rustic delights of chopped liver, matzo ball soup and cholent but with his own 'haymishe' twist!

Gloomy Sunday

Director/Producer: Rolf Schubel and Richard Schops
Germany,1999, color, German, & English subtitles, 114 minutes

This highly-charged dramatic romance told in flash backs beautifully conjures both an intensely personal and political tale. Budapest, 1930s: Lazlo, a Jewish restaurant owner, hires pianist Andras to play in his restaurant. Both men fall in love with the beautiful waitress Ilona who inspires Andras to create his successful but dangeroous composition, Gloomy Sunday an actual hit-song of the early 1930's. The fragile balance of their erotic menage-a-trois spirals out of control when a German freshman Hans (Ben Becker, The Harmonists) falls in love with Ilona as well. Hans later returns as an SS officer offering Jews passage out of Hungary in exchange for money.
(sexual situations)
Underwritten by: Gloria & Ken Levy

Foreign Sister

Director: Dan Wolman
Israel, 2000, Hebrew, color, Amharic, with English subtitles, 86 minutes

Poised for a full-blown mid-life crisis Naomi, just before the breaking point, meets Negist, an Ethiopian Christian illegal worker. Naomi seems to have everything; a loving husband, wonderful children and a comfortable home but she is caving in to the predictability of her life. When she hires Negist to help in her house, Naomi’s life changes. Parallels emerge between the world of the two women as they bond in friendship despite their differences of age, race, and class. Naomi is exposed to the world of illegal migrant workers and to the racial attitudes prevailing in Israel toward the hardships these workers encounter. The events of this award-winning film take place against the backdrop of Israeli society in which more than 300,000 foreign workers live. Since the 1980s some 80,000 Ethiopian Jews have arrived in Israel with great public fanfare. Few are aware that among these immigrants are a community of several thousand Ethiopian Christians. Director, Dan Wolman (HIDE AND SEEK) is one of Israel’s leading filmmakers and in 1999 was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Jerusalem’s International Film Festival. First Prize, The Wogin Award, Jerusalem Film Festival, 2000
Underwritten by: Mrs. Robert Hudson

Mah Nisthtana Ha-yom Ha-zeh? (Why is This Day Different?)

Director: Lorin Fink
New Zealand, 2003, color, English, 5 minutes

It's 2 p.m., Easter Sunday. You've just arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand, and you don't know a soul. It's also the fourth day of Passover, and you desperately want to find a box of matzah.

Liberty Heights

Director: Barry Levinson
USA, 1999, color, English, 132 minutes

Levinson returns to the Baltimore of his youth once again in this racially-charged drama. Set in 1954 during the arrival of desegregation, the story focuses on Ben Kurtzman, a high school freshman. Experiencing cultures outside of his own for the very first time, Ben finds himself falling for Sylvia, one of the school's first black students. Meanwhile, Ben's older brother, Van, becomes infatuated with a gentile named Dubbie. Their father, Nate, runs a numbers game, and when one of his scams backfires on him, he must use his wits to remain afloat. It is a tribute to Levinson that the film succeeds as a personal memory, historical time capsule, and entertaining viewing experience all wrapped up in one.

Website: http://liberty-heights.warnerbros.com/

It’s About Time (ZMANI)

Director: Ayelet Menahemi
Israel, 2001, color, Hebrew with English subtitles, 54 minutes

A brilliant portrait of the Israeli psyche and the notion of time in general. In this mosaic of dialogues with a little girl, a psychiatrist, an Olympic swimmer, a news editor, a lifeguard, a stand-up comic and other Israelis, Middle Eastern time coexists with Western time, Jewish time rubs shoulders with secular time. From the moment of birth, man is timed. But for Israelis, time ticks double speed--pursued by a glorious past, an uncertain future, and a dubious present.

Winner, Best Director and Best Script, Jerusalem International Film Festival, 2001

Love Story

Director: Catrine Clay
UK, 1997, color, English and German with English subtitles, 60 minutes

Love Story is an engaging documentary. It tells the story of a love affair in wartime Nazi Germany between a hider and a hidee. In October 1942, Lilly West was a model, 26 year old, Aryan mother of four, and wife of a low-ranking Nazi official. She was devoted to the Fuhrer. Then she met and fell in love with the 21year old Felice Schrader, a young Jewish woman, who was on the run and hiding her identity with false identification papers. Felice was also a member of the Jewish resistance. Even after Lilly discovered the true identity of her lover, the couple remained together until the Gestapo arrested Felice. Now in her eighties, Lilly recounts their story, supplemented by photos, letters, poems, interviews with others, and archival footage of the period.

Today You Are A Fountain Pen

director: Dan Katzir
USA, 2002, Color, Hebrew with English subtitles, 20 minutes.

Jake dreams of getting a BMX bike for his bar mitzvah, but his grandpa has other plans. Set in Los Angeles in 1989 as the Berlin Wall falls, this coming-of-age tale mixes challah and klezmer with one very special relationship.

The Secret (HASOD)

Director: Ronit Krown Kerstner
Israel, 2001, color, English and Polish with Hebrew subtitles

How would you feel having your identity torn away from you and discovering that all that you ever knew about yourself and your family isn't true? This is the story of Catholic Polish citizens, who one day discover that their parents have kept their true identity from them and that they are actually Jewish. After World War II, many Holocaust survivors chose to hide behind a Catholic Polish identity to guarantee that no future Hitler would endanger their families' future. Today, more than half a century later, over twenty thousand cases have been registered in Poland alone of Catholic Polish citizens searching for their roots, often with devastating consequences. The "new Jews", living in Poland, a country where religion and nationhood are inextricably linked, often find themselves severed from everything they were ever familiar with. They are dislocated from their past, shunned by the society in which they have lived all their lives, belonging suddenly to something they know nothing about or may even despise. For them, nothing will ever be the same.

Welcome To The Waks Family

Director: Barbara Chobocky
Australia, 2002, color, English , color, 52 minutes

Meet Zephaniah and Haya Waks and their 17 children, one of the largest families in Australia. Everyday life in the orthodox Waks household is a logistical operation of monumental proportions. There are two minibuses, a kosher kitchen with five ovens and a bar mitzvah to cater every year. Born in Israel, Haya's childhood was steeped in conservative Judaism. Zephaniah grew up in a non-religious Jewish family in Sydney. His spiritual search led him to the Lubavitcher branch of Hasidism, based in New York, where his marriage was arranged through a matchmaker and friends. Together the couple has worked hard to raise their kids within the tenets of orthodoxy. Why have they made these life choices? How do the Waks cope with so many kids and the challenges and temptations of mainstream society? This engaging and boisterous documentary follows the family over five years, including the marriage of Zephaniah and Haya's eldest daughter, just months after the birth of their youngest daughter.


Director: Amalia Margolin
Israel, 1998, color, Hebrew with English subtitles, 50 minutes

A Tel-Aviv secular mother and wife working on her dissertation, is drawn to investigate her mysterious orthodox childhood memories. Her conviction and determination take her and her daughter to places that existed in her imagination. Her findings and revelations help her resolute and resolve her present reality.

Desperado Square

Director: Benny Torati
Israel, 2001, color, Hebrew with English subtitles, 97 minutes

Reminiscent of Cinema Paradiso and spiced with a heavy Sephardic flavor, this charming film is a story about unfulfilled love and a neighborhood's affection for an old theater. On the morning of his father's memorial service, Nisim has a strange dream that his father Morris orders him to reopen the old family-run cinema that closed 25 years ago. Signora Mandabon, Nisim's mother, objects especially when she learns which movie her sons plan to screen. Another problem is that the only print of the film is in the hands of Uncle Avram, Morris' long-absent brother, who refuses to let it go. But the order in the dream is stronger than any objections, and Nisim, his brother, and some friends go ahead with plans to reopen the theatre. Fans will recognize the familiar faces of Yona Elian (The Italians Are Coming), Nir Levy (Yana's Friends) and sultry Signora, and the prominent Arab Israeli actor Muhammad Bakri (BEYOND THE WALLS, CUP FINAL).

A Home On The Range

directors: Bonnie Burt and Judith Montell.
USA , 2002, color, English, color , 54 minutes

A Jewish Chicken Farmers in Petaluma? It's true, and finally their story is told by Festival favorites, Bay Area filmmakers Bonnie Burt (TREES CRY FOR RAIN, SFJFF 1992; ABRAHAM AND EUGENIA, SFJFF 1995) and Judy Montell (FOREVER ACTIVISTS, SFJFF 1991; TIMBRELS AND TORAH, SFJFF 2000). Fleeing the pogroms and hardships of Eastern Europe these immigrants skipped the sweatshops of New York to become farmers in Northern California. It is a classic immigrant story with a twist. When the left-wing ranchers support union organizers they are met by local vigilantes who want to maintain the status quo. Even more contentious, who controls the community center? Religious and secular Jews argue over control for years. Reflecting three generations of Jewish families, HOME ON THE RANGE tells of the challenges all American Jews face… of maintaining a Jewish identity in America today

Website: http://www.bonnieburt.com/movies/a_home_on_the_range.html

Timbrels & Torah

Directors: Miriam Chaya and Judy Montell
USA, 2000, color, English, color, 30 minutes

During the last decade, Jewish women on a spiritual quest have reclaimed their tradition by inventing or reinventing rituals that respond to their needs. One of these rituals is a 60th birthday celebration. In a culture that disregards older women, the evolution of ”Simchat Chochma" or "Celebration of Wisdom" provides aging women with a Jewish spiritual context for new self-expression and satisfies their desire for a community in which they are fully included. This video features Jewish musician, Deborah Friedman, writer/lecturer Marcia Cohen Spiegel, Blu Greenberg, Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, author of the forthcoming book "Lesbian Rabbis: First Generation", and scholars Marcia Falk and Savina Teubal. Co-director Judy Montell (IF YOU MAKE IT POSSIBLE, 1995 SFJFF and FOREVER ACTIVISTS, 1990 SFJFF) is a veteran of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

Family sing along
with on-screen lyrics
Fiddler on the Roof

Family sing along with on-screen lyrics
Director/Producer: Norman Jewison
USA, 1972, color, English, 180 minutes

This rousing musical based on Shalom Aleichem's stories and loved by all, will now take on a new dimension. Join over 200 young and old in the audience, singing the songs made famous over 30 years ago. Come in costume or as you are, but be sure to make your family part of this first-ever San Jose event.

The story takes place in pre-revolutionary Russia and centers on the life of Tevye (Topol), a milkman who is trying to keep his family's traditions in place while marrying off his three older daughters. Yet, times are changing and the daughters want to make their own matches, breaking free of many of the constricting customs required of them by Judaism. In the background of these events, Russia is on the brink of revolution and Jews are feeling increasingly unwelcome in their villages. Tevye--who expresses his desire for sameness in the opening number, "Tradition"--is trying to keep everyone, and everything, together. The movie is strongly allegorical--Tevye represents the common man--but it does it dexterously, and the resulting film is a stunning work of art. The music is excellent (it won Oscars for the scoring and the sound), with plenty of familiar songs such as "Sunrise, Sunset" and "If I Were a Rich Man," which you'll be humming long after the movie is over. Isaac Stern's violin--he provides the music for the fiddler on the roof--is hauntingly beautiful. And despite the serious subject matter, the film is quite comedic in parts; it also well deserves the Oscar it won for cinematography
Underwritten by: Eli Reinhard

Israeli series
The Chamber Quintet

Director: Eitan Tzur
Producers: Ami Amir and Arik Bernstin
Israel, TV-Series 1994-1997, Hebrew with English
4 episodes approx. 26 minutes each,

By far, the best comedy shows in the history of Israeli television. "The Chamber Quartet” is the best comedy done by Israelis, mostly about Israelis. Each episode consisted of a few sketches. Some were satiric, some were not, but all were sophisticated humor, often with many "layers" of humor that could only be fully understood when the viewer uses his own wit and intellect. The sketches often showed the true face of people and society, and especially Israelis and the Israeli society. To summarize, "The Chamber Quartet" is the most sophisticated, hilarious and intelligent show ever to be made in Israel.

Bat Yam New York

Directors: David Ofek and Yossi Madmony
Israel, 1995-96, color, Hebrew w/English subtitiles,
4 episodes, 25 minutes each

The Zleits, a warm and traditional Israeli family of Iraqi origin, live in Bat Yam, a sleepy southern suburb of Tel Aviv. Shlomo, a strict and exacting father and his easygoing wife Denah have five children. David is “the loser” of the five, in his late thirties he is a cameraman specializing in weddings and still lives at home. Ziva, in her late twenties, lives in Tel Aviv and is a career army officer. She is single despite her stunning good looks and sharp mind. Moshe, enterprising and industrious, works on the fringe of LA’s Porn industry. Miri is a psychology student in New York. She recently moved in with her non-Jewish boyfriend, Michael. And Zahal, at seventeen the family baby, is a high school rebel.

Meet them all and get to know them intimately in this original Israeli TV series that interweaves various genres – comedy, drama and occasional melodrama. The production combines footage from different “worlds” as well– professional TV drama juxtaposed with unpolished amateur home shots (the home videos that provide the transatlantic communication between members of the family).

The authentic flavor of this series comes from familiar family situations, footage that involves people acting as themselves rather than professional actors and authentic locations rather than studio sets.

Gen-x feature
The Hebrew Hammer

Director/Producer: Jonathan Kesselman
USA, 2002, color, English, 88 minutes

An Orthodox Jew, on a mission to save Hanukkah, teams with the beautiful daughter of the world's top Jewish leader as they try and destroy the evil Santa.

Wouldn’t it be great if a super hero could save a Jewish kid from taunts by non-Jewish classmates and punks? The Hebrew Hammer can kick ass for Jewish kids everywhere. He is a Semitic Superfly. When Damien, Santa’s evil son, tries to corrupt Christmas, and push xmas on Hasidic kids using “It’s A Wonderful Life” videos, THE HEBREW HAMMER must swoop in with the help of Mohammed (Kwanza front) and Esther (Justice League). In the words of Sundance… it is a Jew-x-ploitation film. CAST: Adam Goldberg, Andy Dick, Mario Van Peebles, Peter Coyote, Judy Greer
(sexual situations)

website: http://www.thehebrewhammer.com/

Gen-x feature
The Discovery of Heaven

Director: Jeroen Krabbe
The Netherlands, 2002, color, English, 135 minutes

Based on Harry Mulisch's epic, philosophical novel, Jeroen Krabbe's latest film tackles the theme of man's free will versus celestial interference. G-d is disappointed with the human race and wants his stone tablets back. An angel is given the assignment and tries to manipulate several humans on earth to get the job done. But humans have a will of their own. This imaginative and cautionary fable stars Stephen Fry.
(sexual situations)

Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival * www.svjff.org