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Seattle Jewish Film Festival Announces 2018 Lineup with "isREEL Life" Theme



Theme "isREEL Life" salutes Israel's 70th Birthday

The Seattle Jewish Film Festival, presented by the Stroum Jewish Community Center, is thrilled to announce their 2018 program. The festival is an important part of Seattle’s cultural mosaic, offering a diverse spectrum of films that celebrate Jewish and Israeli life, culture, history, and cinema. 

This year is particularly special, as the Festival salutes Israel's 70th birthday. Almost half of this year’s “isREEL Life”-themed festival showcases a prismatic variety of Israeli films, from student productions to award-winning, internationally acclaimed directors like Eran Riklis, and from beginning to end, starting Opening Night with Maktub to Ben-Gurion, Epilogue closing weekend. Over 21 special guests are slated to attend the screenings, including directors, actors, producers, musicians, and expert speakers that will introduce films and lead post-film discussions. 

The Festival takes place March 10-18 at venues around Seattle and on Mercer Island. SJFF is also extending its reach to the Eastside, April 14-15 at Regal's Cinebarre Issaquah 8, showcasing four additional films. This new venue serves a full food and drink menu.
(Note: minors under 18 must be accompanied by an adult 21+). 

Seattle’s Opening Night will feature the funny and touching mob caper Maktub by Israeli Director Oded Raz, followed by a delicious Tom Douglas dessert party. Sunday’s Matzoh Momma Brunch Film features Jewish comfort food, klezmer music, the film Land of Milk and Funny, and film subject and comedian Dwight Slade will do a standup set.

At the Closing Night Centerpiece on Mercer Island, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and internet pioneer Tiffany Shlain will be honored with SJFF's REEL Difference Award before she presents “Spoken Cinema”—a new, interactive, documentary art form, featuring live narration of her acclaimed films on stage—followed by a closing reception. 

SJFF's new Eastside Opening Night kicks off with the illuminating and entertaining documentary Shalom Bollywood, about Indian-Jewish screen legends, and includes a free popcorn and a beverage for ticketholders. The final Eastside film will be Across the Waters: a gripping story of survival and rescue. 
General admission tickets: $12-$15  |  Special events: $20-$25
8- packs of discount tickets: $100-$125  |  Full passes: $200-$225
Senior tickets available  |  SJFF accepts TeenTix 
Images (starting from top): MAKTUB, SJFF's Opening Night feature; BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY (bottom left);  MANDALA BEATS (bottom right; Director Rebekah Reiko to attend).


Opening Night Film & Tom Douglas Dessert Party | AMC PACIFIC PLACE 11
7:30 PM Happy Hour | 8:30 PM Film: Maktub | 10:30 PM Dessert Party
Maktub | Director: Oded Raz | Comedy/Drama | Israel
Two Jerusalem mob enforcers turn into unlikely secret angels after surviving a bombing at a resaurant they were shaking down. They fulfill writers’ wishes in purloined notes from the Western Wall while evading their suspicious boss in this funny and touching caper.

Matzoh Momma Sunday Brunch | AMC PACIFIC PLACE 11 

9:30 AM Brunch | 10:45 AM Stand-up Comedy | 11 AM Film: Land of Milk and Funny 
Land of Milk and Funny | Director: Avi Liberman | Documentary | USA/Israel
LA funnyman Avi Liberman takes fellow stand-up comedians on tours of Israel, capturing their keen and comical insights onstage and off. Guest (and stand-up performer): Comedian Dwight Slade. 

Sephardic Spotlight 1:00 PM | AMC PACIFIC PLACE 11 
Trezoros: The Jews of Kastoria | Directors: Lawrence Russo & Larry Confino | Documentary | Greece
A coastal city renowned for its idyllic beauty, Kastoria was once home to a harmonious and vibrant population of Greek Jews and Christians. Never-before-seen archival footage and interviews stitch together a compelling portrait of this unique and dynamic Jewish community. Guests: Director Lawrence Russo and Professor Devin Naar, UW Sephardic Studies. 

Teen Screen 3:15 PM | AMC PACIFIC PLACE 11
Keep the Change | Director: Rachel Israel | Romantic Comedy | USA
Winner of Best Narrative Feature at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, this romantic comedy about people with autism navigating the difficulties of a relationship is charming, authentic and is “as funny as it is sweet” (Variety). Preceded by short film: The Gravedigger's Daughter. Recommended for ages 15+; $5 tickets for TeenTix Members. 

Itzhak 5:45 PM | AMC PACIFIC PLACE 11
Itzhak | Director: Alison Chernick | Documentary | USA
Widely considered one of the world’s greatest living violinists, Itzhak Perlman’s mastery of the violin catapulted a child with polio from Tel Aviv and the son of Polish survivors onto the world’s most prominent stages.

Gay Gezunt! LGBTQ Film 8:40 PM | AMC PACIFIC PLACE 11
The Cakemaker | Director: Ophir Raul Graizer | Drama | Gemany/Israel 
Devastated by the sudden death of his Israeli boyfriend, shy Berlin baker Thomas journeys to Jerusalem, where he secretly infiltrates the lives of his lover’s widow and son, and helps revive her fledgling café with his tantalizing German confections. How long can he keep this secret as the pair becomes deeply enmeshed? Guest: Sara Michelle Fetters, Lead Film Critic for Seattle Gay News

Mandala Beats 6:30 PM | SIFF CINEMA UPTOWN
Mandala Beats | Director: Rebekah Reiko | Documentary | Canada/India/Israel 
Known as the Jimi Hendrix of Israeli, musician Yossi Fine has collaborated with artists across the globe including Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Madonna. The son of a European Jew and a black Parisian mom, he learns that his grandfather was Indian, and departs on an “instrumental” journey of rediscovery. Guest: Director Rebekah Reiko. 

Longing | Director: Savi Gabizon | Drama | Israel 
Director Savi Gabizon (Nina's Tragedies, SJFF 2005) muses on aging and second chances in this tale of a father haunted by a son he never knew existed. Preceded by short film: Holes

Praise the Lard 6:50 PM | SIFF CINEMA UPTOWN 
Praise the Lard | Director: Chen Shelach | Documentary | Israel 
The untold story of the pork industry in Israel, from Zionist movement and kibbutz pig farms to current identity struggles, freedoms, and new immigrant penchants, in spite of fierce resistance from religious Jews. Preceded by short  film: Our Brothers

An Act of Defiance 8:30 PM | SIFF CINEMA UPTOWN
An Act of Defiance | Director: Jean van de Velde | Drama | South Africa
Ten men in Nelson Mandela’s inner circle—some black, some Jewish—are arrested for conspiring to commit sabotage against the South African apartheid state. Their courageous lawyer risks career and freedom to defend them and conceal his own sedition in this nail-biting political thriller and spectacular courtroom drama.

1945 | Director: Ferenc Török | Drama | Hungary 
In the immediate aftermath of WWII, the arrival of an elderly Orthodox Jew and his son in a small Hungarian town triggers the townsfolk's collective fear and guilt.

Shelter | Director: Eran Riklis | Drama/Thriller | Germany/Israel/France
In this suspenseful, neo-noir drama and psychological thriller, Mossad agent Naomi is sent to protect Mona, a Lebanese collaborator, in a German safe house. Their uneasy relationship develops into an unexpected bond, while threat levels outside rise.

Sammy Davis Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me 6:30 PM | SIFF CINEMA UPTOWN

Sammy Davis Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me | Director: Sam Pollard | Documentary | USA
A toe-tapping, star-studded homage to the immensely-talented Black-Jewish entertainer and Rat Pack legend who navigated the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress in mid-20th century America.

The Testament 8:45 PM | SIFF CINEMA UPTOWN
The Testament | Director: Amichai Greenberg | Drama/Thriller | Austria/Israel
Yoel, a meticulous historian leading a significant debate against Holocaust deniers, discovers that his mother carries a false identity. Is he willing to risk everything to discover the truth? Guest: Actor Ori Pfeffer. 

Matinee @ the J 12:30 PM Stroum Jewish Community Center
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story | Director: Alexandra Dean | Documentary | USA
Alert, hipsters: Hedy Lamarr is the new Nikolai Tesla. Watch this film about her stranger-than-fiction life and amazing inventions so you can be into her before everyone else catches on. $5 tickets for Seniors 65+. Refreshments will be served at this screening. 

Israel @70 Night: Happy Hour @The J Cafe 5:30-9:00 PM | Stroum Jewish Community Center
A cash bar at The J Cafe accompanies both March 17 screenings. Bar will have wine, beer, and noshes for sale from 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM.

The History of Love 6:30 PM | Stroum Jewish Community Center 
The History of Love | Director: Radu Mihaileanu | Drama | France/Belgium/Canada/Romania 
Two lives intersect in New York City in this masterful adaptation of Nicole Krauss's bestselling novel starring Elliot Gould and Sir Derek Jacobi.

An Israeli Love Story 9:15 PM | Stroum Jewish Community Center 
An Israeli Love Story | Director: Dan Wolman | Drama | Israel
Aspiring young actress Margalit falls for dashing fighter Eli in pre-independence Palestine, setting the stage for a true love story that mixes idealism, romance, sacrifice, and tragedy during a turbulent and momentous period. A cash bar at The J Cafe accompanies this screening. 

Brown Derby Exhibit and Reception | 1:00 PM | Stroum Jewish Community Center 
Vitch | Director: Sigal Bujman | Documentary | USA/Australia/France/
This documentary illuminates the moral conundrum of Eddie Vitch, a Polish Jewish caricaturist, mime and comedian, who stayed alive by entertaining Nazi elite and Gestapo officers. The film traces his daughter’s efforts to uncover the truth about his activities and motives. Guests: Director Sigal Bujman and Director of Photography Marc Pingry; Producers Yaffa and Paul Maritz. A special Event in the J Café accompanies this film, featuring a Brown Derby Eddie Vitch caricature exhibit and cake reception

Cuba's Forgotten Jewels 3:30 PM | Stroum Jewish Community Center
Cuba's Forgotten Jewels | Directors: Robin Truesdale and Judy Kreith | Documentary | USA
For a few short years in the 1940s, Jewish refugees from war-torn Europe turned the tropical island of Cuba into a global diamond center. This little-known, colorful, and uplifting story is set to an original soundtrack of Jewish melodies and pulsating Cuban music, featuring Seattle’s own Clave Gringa who will perform after the screening. Guests: Directors Robin Truesdale and Judy Kreith; Ann Reynolds, and Clave Gringa Latin jazz band. There will also be a a performance by Seattle's Clave Gringa, who is featured on the film's soundtrack. 

Closing Night Centerpiece and REEL Difference Award Reception 7:00 PM | Stroum Jewish Community Center 
Tiffany Shlain’s “Spoken Cinema” | Director Tiffany Shlain | Documentary Shorts Program | USA
This year’s SJFF REEL Difference Award recipient is Emmy-nominated filmmaker, author, public speaker, and internet pioneer, Tiffany Shlain, whose Let it Ripple film studio makes impactful films and creates global social initiatives (Character Day, 50/50 Day) that explore the intersection of technology, (Jewish) identity, and connection that shape our lives. She will take us on an exhilarating tour of her acclaimed films and present a new, interactive, documentary art form she calls “Spoken Cinema”—a live narration of her film as the soundtrack plays in the background. Guest: Filmmaker and SJFF 2018 REEL Difference Award recipient Tiffany Shlain. 

Eastside Opening Night 8:45 PM | REGAL CINEBARRE ISSAQUAH 8 

Shalom Bollywood | Director: Danny Ben-Moshe | Documentary | Australia
Who knew that Jews—specifically Jewish women—dominated Bollywood for the first half of its 100-year history? This entertaining documentary, featuring rich and rare archival clips, profiles six legends of the Indian silver screen who made Bollywood what it is today: the largest and one of the most progressive, cutting-edge film industries in the world. This screening will include free popcorn and a beverage for ticket holders. 

Ben-Gurion, Epilogue 3:00 PM | REGAL CINEBARRE ISSAQUAH 8
Ben-Gurion, Epilogue | Director: Yariv Mozer | Documentary | Israel
Two filmmakers scoured the globe for the last David Ben-Gurion interview, before finding it in the Israeli desert—a rivetingly intimate documentary that captures both the vision and humility of Israel's founding father.

Your Honor | Director: Roni Ninio | TV Drama/Thriller (4 episodes) | Israel 
Binge watch Israel's new, award-winning Breaking Bad-esque television drama, Your Honor, about a rising-star judge and his well-meaning family who become ensnared in Israel’s underworld. (Four episodes shown, with the rest of season one coming at a later date.)

Across the Waters 8:15 PM | REGAL CINEBARRE ISSAQUAH 8
Across the Waters | Director: Nicolo Donato | Drama | Denmark 
Unsure of whom they can trust, a Jewish musician and his family make a frantic escape from Nazi-occupied Denmark. A gripping story of survival and rescue.

More info on festival guests here. (Attending guests are subject to change) 




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