By Indiewire | Indiewire July 22, 2005 at 2:00AM
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival Celebrates Silver Anniversary with New Award; Opens with "Go for Zucker"
by Vanessa Romo
The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, one of the oldest and largest events of its kind, opened its 25th edition last night with comedy "Go For Zucker! -- An Unorthodox Comedy" by director Dani Levy and will close August 8 with "Rashevski's Tango" directed by Sam Garbarski. The films are stories of people engaged in a push-and-pull battle between living and dying as non-Orthodox and Orthodox Jews, though for very different reasons. The festival will screen over 40 films and videos throughout the Bay Area.
In Levy's irreverent comedy, making it's U.S. premiere at the Castro Theatre, Jaeckie Zucker, (formerly Jakob Zuckermann) is an irreligious pool shark overextended in debt who tries to pass himself off as Orthodox in order to gain an inheritance willed to him by his mother. And in Garbarski's "Tango," the death of Holocaust survivor, Rosa Rashevski, who in life had avoided religion altogether, is the catalyst for three generations embarking on soul-searching quests, when she is buried in a Jewish cemetery.
In other highlights, Danny Verete's "Metallic Blues" set in Israel about two used-car dealers who find themselves on a nightmare road trip after they buy a limousine and concoct a scheme to turn a quick buck is set to screen. Andrew Wagner's "The Talent Given Us" which was this year's CineVegas Grand Jury Prize Winner, is another fest highlight. Starring Wagner's real-life family, "Talent" is the story of a family traveling from New York to LA to reconnect with their estranged son.
In celebration of its silver anniversary, SFJFF inaugurated the Freedom of Expression Award at a gala reception on Tuesday, July 19, honoring local independent filmmaker, Jay Rosenblatt and veteran screenwriters Walter Bernstein and Norma Barzman who survived the years of the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s.
"I like to think our festival is like any 25-year-old: still a bit restless, testing boundaries, exploring notions of identity, and bringing back another take on the world around us," commented festival executive director Peter L. Stein in a statement. The 20-day festival will have screenings at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, The Roda Theatre in Berkeley, the Mountain View Century Cinema 16 in Mountain View and the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.
[ For more information and a complete line up, please visit http://www.sfjff.org ]