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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 17, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 11
Seattle Jewish Film Festival March 25-April 2 Festival highlight: GAY GEZUNT! on March 26
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Seattle Jewish Film Festival March 25-April 2 Festival highlight: GAY GEZUNT! on March 26

22nd annual Seattle Jewish Film Festival March 25-April 2 is a nine-day celebration of Jewish and Israeli life, culture, and history

Take-off with Opening Night film Harmonia and return-home Closing Night with locally-made Big Sonia at the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, March 25-April 2. The festival, presented by the Stroum Jewish Community Center, the festival will be held at the AMC Pacific Place 11 (600 Pine St, fourth floor), the SIFF Uptown Cinema (511 Queen Anne Ave N) , and at the Stroum Jewish Community Center (3801 E. Mercer Way, Mercer Island).

The festival includes an advance screening of The Zookeeper's Wife, starring Jessica Chastain, and is among 24 films inviting viewers to journey into and celebrate global Jewish and Israeli life and culture. Exploring a theme of 'Arrivals,' all selections will give audiences the opportunity to satisfy their wanderlust through international cinematic travel to France, the Netherlands, Greece, Israel and beyond. Closing night will bring guests back home with the documentary Big Sonia, from Seattle-based award-winning filmmakers Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday.

The Seattle Jewish Film Festival (SJFF), which is marking its 22nd year as one of the longest-running film festivals in the region, is an important part of Seattle's cultural make up and offers a diverse spectrum of films that welcomes everyone aboard.

'The Seattle Jewish FiIm Festival is the largest Jewish event in the Pacific Northwest and an important arts and culture destination for diverse arts-loving audiences. While the 'destination' is the festival, people will be transported and transformed through cinema. Audiences should get ready to 'fasten their seat belts' and prepare for exhilaration and reconnection, says Festival Director Pamela Lavitt. 'In keeping with our mission, we're building bridges and forging connections with unique and rarely seen films. It's like we are all going on vacation somewhere exotic and soul-filling together!'

The first to arrive will be Ori Sivan's Harmonia, opening the festival on Saturday, March 25th at AMC Pacific Place 11. The Jerusalem Philharmonic Orchestra is the romantic setting for this modern talove triangle of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. Lead actor Alon Aboutboul will attend.



Audiences will be in for a trip at the much-loved Matzoh Momma Sunday Brunch, which includes a screening of The Last Laugh on March 26 at AMC Pacific Place 11. Exploring the question 'Can the Holocaust be funny?' top comedians (Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Judy Gold) and Holocaust survivors weigh in with a wide range of answers, illustrated by archival footage and movie clips. The Brunch begins at 9:30am at AMC Pacific Place 11, and will be hosted by Matzoh Momma Catering and accompanied by a live musical performance from perennial favorites The Klez Katz! The film begins at 10:45am. A special event ticket provides entry to the Brunch and film, and film-only tickets can also be purchased.

Another highlight will be an advance screening of The Zookeeper's Wife, directed by Niki Caro and starring two-time Academy Award® nominee Jessica Chastain. The film tells the real-life story of a working wife and mother (Chastain) who became a hero to hundreds during World War II. It will show Sunday, March 26 at 5:15pm at AMC Pacific Place 11.

One beloved highlight of the festival is the Gay Gezunt! featuring Who's Gonna Love Me Now? on Sunday, March 26 at 8pm at AMC Pacific Place 11. The screening will include a pre-film performance by members of the Seattle Men's Chorus, and director Barak Heymann will be in attendance! Following is a synopsis of the film:

Having been barred from his conservative kibbutz in his wilder youth, Saar, a Gay Israeli from a religious family, took refuge in London, where he lives and loves freely. Now 40, he's has a good job, a loving boyfriend, and has found a supportive community and surrogate family in the London Gay Men's Chorus, in which he sings. Saar still craves his family's love, even while they struggle with fears and prejudices surrounding his life and HIV diagnosis. Torn between comfort and freedom in exile and moving back to Israel to reconcile with his religious family, Saar wavers between withdrawal and confrontation. A series of frank reunions with his gruff father, tearful mother, and righteous siblings in Israel and London illustrate the misunderstandings and ignorance that led to their estrangement, even as each side professes their love and desire to be closer. Performances by the chorus enhance this tender, honest, and intimate film by acclaimed directors Barak and Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, SJFF 2007; Lady Kul El Arab, SJFF 2008; Almost Friends, SJFF 2015; Mr. Gaga, SJCC 2017) about the powerful pull of home, no matter how far we stray. Winner of the Panorama Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2016 Berlin International Festival.

Younger audiences can look forward to two half-price Teen Screens (Age 13-19 pay just $6.50 with a paying adult), including Supergirl, which screens on Tuesday, March 28th at 6:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Supergirl is the story of a typical teenager, Naomi Kutin, who goes to school, does her homework, and hangs out with friends - but she may be 'the strongest girl in the world.' Director Jessie Auritt and editor Erik Dugger will be in attendance.

The Closing Night Centerpiece returns audiences home after a 9-day journey, with the Seattle premiere of Big Sonia on Sunday, April 2 at the Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC), followed by a reception. Holocaust survivor, public speaker, and diminutive diva, 4'8', 91-year-old Sonia's towering personality, leopard-print panache, and life's lessons have a big impact. Her story comes to life in this documentary by her granddaughter, Leah Warshawski.

'It is important that SJFF feature, work closely with, and cultivate the work of local Jewish filmmakers, giving them feedback and a forum for works-in-progress opportunities and premieres,' says Lavitt. 'Leah and Todd have already presented short work-in-progress clips at our year-round screenings. Now that the film is finished, we are proud to have played a supporting role launching the film.'

TICKETS AND FILM SCHEDULE
Tickets for selected special events are on sale now, along with SJFF Full Festival Passes and a discounted 8-Pack of tickets. Always popular, the SJFF Full Festival Pass is priced at $225 ($200 for SJCC members/students/seniors 65+/youth) and includes access to all film screenings and ticketed special events. New this year, 8-Pack can be redeemed for up to 8 tickets total with a maximum of 2 tickets per film or event for $125 ($100 for SJCC members/students/seniors 65+/youth). There are no restrictions on the type of ticketed event. 8-Packs can be redeemed for special event tickets (valued at $20-25 apiece), including Opening Night on 3/25, Matzoh Momma Sunday Brunch & Film on 3/26, and the Closing Night Centerpiece on 4/2, as well as regularly priced general admission screenings. Passes and 8-Packs are available at http://www.seattlejewishfilmfestival.org/ The complete film schedule is also available at http://www.seattlejewishfilmfestival.org/

The 2017 Seattle Jewish Film Festival will be held at AMC Pacific Place 11 (600 Pine St., fourth floor), SIFF Cinema Uptown (511 Queen Anne Ave. N.), and the Stroum Jewish Community Center (3801 E. Mercer Way, Mercer Island). SJFF's programming continues year-round at SJCC. For more information, contact sjff@sjcc.org; 206-388-0832; www.seattlejewishfilmfestival.org. About Seattle Jewish Film Festival: www.seattlejewishfilmfestival.org
In its 21st year, the Seattle Jewish Film Festival is a nine-day annual event and year-round international cinematic exploration and celebration of Jewish and Israeli life, culture, and history. Founded in 1995 by AJC (American Jewish Committee) Seattle, SJFF is now a cornerstone program of the Stroum Jewish Community Center and a vital cornerstone of its Cultural Arts season and programming. Central to the J's community-building mission, SJFF brings people together to inspire learning and new perspectives by showcasing the virtuosity and diversity of Jewish cinema and talent.

About Stroum Jewish Community Center: www.sjcc.org
The Stroum Jewish Community Center inspires connections to build community and ensure Jewish continuity. Together we create outstanding programs, partnerships and spaces that welcome everyone to learn, grow and celebrate Jewish life and culture.

Courtesy of Seattle Jewish Film Festival and Stroum Jewish Community Center

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