October 27, 2002 - February 16, 2003
Founded in this building in 1981, and headquartered here in its early years, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is the oldest and largest Jewish film festival in the world. At its inception, the festivalís founder, Deborah Kaufman, sought to fill a cultural void. Independent film, she felt, could be the catalyst for airing diverse viewpoints about Jewish identity and politics that were underrepresented in most Jewish institutions and in mainstream media.
For 22 years, Kaufman and her successor Janis Plotkin have shown a special commitment to presenting the voices and views of independent Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers, as they turned their cameras onto the volatile and poignant relationships that embody the struggle for peace in the Middle East. The festival has screened not only social documentaries, but also intimate features, theatrical shorts and television programs, presenting characters and images to which American Jewish audiences often had no other access. These films, whose viewpoints were sometimes controversial and whose presentation at the festival was often criticized, in retrospect have the aura of prophecy. The preoccupations of artists, directors and journalists not only reflect but often anticipate the social and political climate in the region as it heats, thaws, and all too frequently boils over.
The excerpts on view here were selected by Plotkin because together they form a kaleidoscope of cinematic responses to Israeli-Arab relationships over the festivalís lifespan. Beginning with Hamsin (1983), the first Israeli feature to focus on Palestinian-Israeli conflict over land, the films spanned the first Intifada (uprising) of the late 1980ís, the hopeful period of the Oslo accords (post-1993), their breakdown, and now a second Intifada. The clips were a testimony both to the forceful spirit of independent filmmaking, and also to the vital role of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in consistently providing a diversity of voices amid a growing din of intolerance.
(Title, year made, directed by, festival year, clip duration )
Hamsin (1983) Daniel Wachsman 1984 4:15
The Smile of the Lamb (1985) Shimon Dotan 1986 4:23
Night Movie (1986) Gur Heller 1987 6:59
Wedding in Galilee (1987) Michel Kleifi (1988) 4:06
One of Us (1990) Uri Barabash 1991 4:20
Lookout (1990) Dina Zvi-Riklis 1991 5:40
Jerusalem: An Occupation Set in Stone? (1994) Marty Rosenbluth 1996 1:32
Forbidden Marriages in the Holy Land (1995) Michel Kleifi 1996 6:19
Al-Nakba: The Palestinian Catastrophe of 1948 (1998) Alexandra Jansse & Benny Brunner 1998 3:09
Inner Tour (2001) Raíanan Alexandrowicz 2002 4:36
Between the Lines (2001) Yifat Kedar 2002 4:55
500 Dunam on the Moon (2002) Rachel Leah Jones 2002 5:38
The Museum will present a full-length screening of Hamsin at 2:00 PM on Christmas Day.