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San Diego Jewish Film Fest Celebrates A Quarter Century

Festival Kicks Off With A Comedy About Race and Religion

Credit: AZ Films

Above: "Serial (Bad) Weddings" opens the 25th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival on Feb. 5. The film tackles issues of race and religion with humor as it follows a Catholic couple whose daughters marry a Muslim, a Jew, a Chinese immigrant, and an African.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando previews the Sn Diego Jewish Film Festival for 2015.

Transcript

SDJFF 2015 Venues

ArcLight Cinemas
, 4425 La Jolla Village Drive

Carlsbad Village Theatre
, 2822 State St.

David & Dorothea Garfield Theatre, 4126 Executive Drive

Edwards San Marcos Stadium, 18
1180 W San Marcos Blvd.

Reading Cinemas Town Square 14
, 4665 Clairemont Drive

Fifty shorts, 48 features and documentaries, 10 days and five venues — the 25th annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival promises lots of choices and diversity.

"Red Father" and "Orange People," "Soft Vengeance" and "Suicide," "Havana Curveball" and "Tackle Football in the Holyland" — those are just a few of the titles served up at this year’s San Diego Jewish Film Festival.

This year, I am seeing more films than usual at the festival because I'm serving on the jury to select the films to be awarded best in their category. The films display a broad range of topics, styles and approaches.

There is the straight forward documentary style of "Havana Curveball" and "Advanced Style." The former finds novelty in a young boy's attempt to donate baseball gear to kids in Havana and discovering both family history and the legal red tape of doing anything with Cuba. And the latter showcases older women who refuse to dress their age and instead display a flamboyant disregard for conservative fashion choices.

A number of films in both the documentary and narrative field tackle issues regarding women or focusing on women.

The drama "Apples in the Desert" serves up a trio of strong female leads as it looks to a patriarch whose conservative views force his 19-year-old daughter to flee home for a Kibbutz. "Almost Friends," one of the best films at the festival, looks to the friendship between two Israeli girls -- one Jewish and one Arab -- brought together through a school computer project. The documentary observes how this friendship affects the two ethnic communities and lets the young girls have plenty of on camera time to express themselves.

One of the most stylistically impressive films is the drama, "The Art Dealer" from French director François Margolin ("The Flight of the Red Balloon"). The film follows a Jewish woman whose attempts to recover family paintings stolen by Nazis during the war leads her on an investigation that uncovers some uncomfortable family secrets.

The festival specializes in documentaries and dramas designed to prompt discussion and even debate. But for its opening, the festival’s decided to treat issues of race, religion, and tolerance with a light touch.

"Serial (Bad) Weddings" looks to a Catholic couple whose daughters have married a Muslim, a Jew and a Chinese immigrant. When their fourth daughter announces she’s marrying a Catholic, they’re thrilled until they discover he’s African.

Serious themes get a comic treatment as the San Diego Jewish Film Festival kicks off Thursday evening at Reading’s Town Square Cinemas.

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Photo of Beth Accomando

Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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