SFJFF 2017: A Celebration of Jewish Culture and Cinema

SFJFF 2017: A Celebration of Jewish Culture and Cinema

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF) is an annual event that showcases films from around the world that explore Jewish culture, history, and identity. The festival, which began in 1980, has grown to become the largest and longest-running Jewish film festival in the world. SFJFF 2017 was no exception, featuring a diverse lineup of films that explored a wide range of themes and topics related to Jewish life.

Section 1: Opening Night

The festival kicked off with a screening of the film “The Women’s Balcony,” a comedy-drama from Israel that tells the story of a group of women who band together to rebuild their synagogue after it is damaged in a fire. The film explores themes of community, tradition, and gender roles within the context of modern Israeli society. The screening was followed by a lively opening night party, where festival-goers mingled with filmmakers and industry professionals.

Section 2: Spotlight on Israeli Cinema

One of the highlights of SFJFF 2017 was the festival’s focus on Israeli cinema. The festival featured a number of Israeli films, including “Past Life,” a drama about two sisters who uncover a dark family secret while researching their father’s past as a Holocaust survivor; “The Cakemaker,” a romantic drama about a German baker who travels to Jerusalem to connect with the widow of his deceased lover; and “Ben-Gurion, Epilogue,” a documentary that features never-before-seen footage of Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion.

The Israeli films showcased at SFJFF 2017 offered a diverse range of perspectives on Israeli society and culture. They tackled complex issues such as the legacy of the Holocaust, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the tension between tradition and modernity in Israeli life.

Section 3: Documentaries

SFJFF 2017 also featured a number of powerful documentaries that explored Jewish history and identity. “The Settlers,” a documentary from Israel, examined the controversial settlement movement in the West Bank and its impact on Israeli society. “The Freedom to Marry,” a documentary from the United States, chronicled the fight for marriage equality in America and the role that Jewish activists played in that struggle.

Other notable documentaries included “The Last Laugh,” which explored the use of humor in Holocaust remembrance; “On the Map,” which told the story of Israel’s 1977 Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team and their unlikely victory over a Soviet team in the European Cup; and “The Lavender Scare,” which examined the persecution of LGBT individuals during the Cold War era.

Section 4: Shorts Program

In addition to feature-length films, SFJFF 2017 also featured a number of short films that offered a glimpse into Jewish life around the world. The shorts program included films from Israel, the United States, Canada, and beyond, and covered a wide range of topics, from family dynamics to political activism to religious tradition.

One standout short was “Joe’s Violin,” which told the story of a Holocaust survivor who donates his violin to a New York City public school. The film explores the power of music to connect people across generations and cultures.


SFJFF 2017 was a celebration of Jewish culture and cinema that offered a diverse range of perspectives on Jewish life around the world. From Israeli dramas to American documentaries to international shorts, the festival showcased the richness and complexity of Jewish identity and history. As the largest Jewish film festival in the world, SFJFF continues to be an important platform for filmmakers and audiences alike to explore and celebrate Jewish culture.


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