S.F. film fest to feature Israel, Jewish themes

Several films dealing with Israel or Jewish themes are on the schedule for the 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival, which began this week and runs through May 6.

Perhaps most notable is “Lebanon,” which is being presented in association with the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and with support from the S.F.-based Consulate General of Israel.

Winner of the Venice Film Festival’s prestigious Golden Lion award for best film, “Lebanon” is a drama that looks at the madness of war through the lens of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Dubbed “ ‘Das Boot’ in a tank” on the SFIFF Web site, the film takes place almost entirely in an Israeli tank as it rolls through a town, or from the viewpoint of the four soldiers in the tank.

Scheduled for wide release this summer, the 94-minute film by writer-director Samuel Maoz will screen at 9 p.m. May 2 and 9:30 p.m. May 5 at the Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco.


A scene from Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz’s “Lebanon,” which will be shown in the San Francisco International Film Festival. photo/courtesy of san francisco film society

“Budrus” is an 82-minute documentary that lists its point of origin as the Palestinian territories and Israel. It focuses on a popular nonviolent movement in Budrus, a small West Bank village, which not only brings Hamas and Fatah forces together under the same banner but also Israelis and Palestinians.


Directed by Julia Bacha of Just Vision, an organization that works to bring

attention to cooperative Palestinian and Israeli peace efforts, the film screens at 2 p.m. May 2 at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, at 9:15 p.m. May 3 at the Kabuki and at 3:45 p.m. May 5 at the Clay Theatre in San Francisco.

“Port of Memory” is a 63-minute drama, set in Israel and directed by Palestinian filmmaker Kamal Aljafari, about a Palestinian homeowner who is forced to vacate his Jaffa home. Presented in association with the Arab Film Festival, it screens at 7:15 p.m. Monday, April 26; 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 27; and 2:30 p.m. May 5. All showings will be at the Kabuki.

“Gainsbourg” (“Je t’aime … moi non plus”) is a drama from France by graphic artist–turned-director Joann Sfar. It’s an offbeat biopic about singer-songwriter and provocateur artist Serge Gainsbourg. In addition to covering his romance with actress Brigitte Bardot and his many scandals, the 135-minute film spends a lot of time on his early years as a Jewish child in Nazi-occupied France. Presented in association with the S.F. Jewish Film Festival, it screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 27; 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 28; and 3:15 p.m. April 30. All showings will be at the Kabuki.

The 84-minute documentary “Joan Rivers — A Piece of Work” is the closing-night film at 7 p.m. May 6 at the Castro Theatre. Filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg follow Rivers at age 75, showcasing her successful stint on “Celebrity Apprentice,” her product pitches on QVC and her comedy club stand-up shows via interviews and other footage.

For more information about films, venues and ticket prices, visit fest10.sffs.org.

Stacey Palevsky

Stacey Palevsky is a former J. staff writer.