CORRECTION: This article initially said that any documentary short that shows in the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is eligible for the Oscars, which is not true. It has been updated.
For many Bay Area Jews, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is a summer ritual, an annual film event more important than the Oscars. Some say it is the most Jewish activity they engage in all year.
Now, their faithful attendance will hold even more currency. The Jewish Film Institute, which sponsors the festival — the first of its kind in the country, marking its 38th year — announced on March 22 that the SFJFF is now a qualifying film festival in the Academy Award documentary short subject category. This means that the winner of the film festival’s documentary short competition can be eligible for an Oscar.
San Francisco’s is the first Jewish film festival to achieve this qualifying status. As a result, organizers say, this will encourage more directors to submit their films to screen at the SFJFF.
“Short films are a unique medium. They are often a launch pad for new artistic voices and perspectives,” said Lexi Leban, JFI’s executive director. The festival’s new status can shine a brighter spotlight on compelling, independent new works.
Other festivals that qualify in this category include Sundance, Tribeca, Full Frame and New Directors/New Films.
In light of the new development, the festival has extended its call for entries for short documentary submissions to April 27. The festival runs July 19 to Aug. 5 at venues in San Francisco, the East Bay, Palo Alto and San Rafael.