Sign In Forgot Password

Help make the 2024 SCJFF a success! 

The SCJFF returns March 19 - April 27 to present a selection of films in appreciation of Jewish issues, history, and culture. This year we will be presenting films that shed light on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, along with films of general interest. Stay tuned for the complete schedule. In the meantime,  you can view trailers by clicking on any of the photos on this page.

Sponsorships and donations make the film festival possible, so please consider a donation. Just place your cursor over the DONATE menu tab above and select MEMBER or NON-MEMBER and then select FILM FESTIVAL. Donations of every size are important.  If you can afford it, SPONSORSHIPS start at just $250 and are the foundation of the film festival, and come with two festival passes. 

The 2024 SCJFF opens on Saturday, March 19 at 7 pm at Temple Beth El with the screening of THE CITY WITHOUT JEWS, accompanied by LIVE klezmer music!

Shoshana

Israel | Narrative| 2023 | 129 min. 

SHOSHANA is a historical drama and troubled love story set in British Mandate Palestine just before the founding of the state of Israel. Based on real people and events, and 15 years in the making,  the film tells the story of the cross-cultural relationship between a ranking member of the British Palestine Police Force and a young Jewish woman. The film explores the way extremism and violence push people apart, forcing them to choose sides.

Children of Peace

Israel | Documentary| 2023  | 59 min.

A group of dreamers  founded an intentional community of Arabs and Jews, Neve Shalom, in 1970’s Israel. The film follows up on children who were brought up in this unique environment, now grown men and women dealing with the harsh reality of political turmoil and war.

 

Birth Of A Conflict

Israel | Documentary Series | 2022  |  168 min.          (Three episodes, 56 minutes each.)

Never-seen-before archival film and audio recordings dating back to the British Mandate of Palestine bring the complex history of Israel-Palestine to life. Birth of a Conflict takes a deep dive into the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Arab and Israeli historians  represented in equal measure. The series explores the significant events and personalities that made possible the founding of the State of Israel but failed to achieve the same for Palestinians.

Savoy

Israel  | Documentary | 2022  |  78 min.

This riveting documentary tells the story of Kochava Levi, a 31-year-old housewife of Yemeni descent, who was taken hostage during an attack on the Savoy hotel in Tel Aviv in March 1975. A fluent Arabic speaker, she becomes the translator and mediator between the Israeli security forces and the terrorists. Over the course of one night, she becomes a fearless heroine but by dawn she is left with nothing but shame. Nominated for Best Documentary at the 2022 Jerusalem Film Festival. 

The Checkpoint Women: Memories

Israel  | Documentary | 2023  |  60 min.

A group of Israeli women established Checkpoint Watch to guard the human rights of those passing through the checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank.
Over  the years these women have documented the checkpoints on film, providing viewers with a never-before-seen angle on their interactions with the soldiers and their advocacy for the population's needs.
This documentary showcases Israeli women  with extraordinary courage, humanity and dedication.

The City Without Jews silent film with LIVE Klezmer music! March 19 at Temple Beth El.

Austria | Drama | 1924  |  80 min.

The City Without Jews is a 1924 expressionist film based on the novel of the same title by Hugo Bettauer. The novel and film predicted the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in subsequent decades. Set in the Austrian city of Utopia (a thinly-disguised stand-in for Vienna), the story follows the political and personal consequences of an anti-Semitic law passed by the National Assembly forcing all Jews to leave the country. 

Darkly comic in tone and stinging in its criticism of Nazism, the silent film will be accompanied with live original music composed and performed by world-renowned klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals and celebrated silent film pianist Donald Sosin.  The film was digitally restored and re-released in early 2018. 

Between the Stone and the Flower

Spain-Cuba-USA| Documentary | 2023  |  68 min.

A Cuban-American woman embarks on a decades-long quest to uncover her Jewish lineage. Born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Miami, Genie Milgram was steeped in Roman Catholicism from childhood, but carried a persistent sense of disconnection with her Spanish Catholic upbringing. She goes on a geneological quest all the way back to the Great Inquisition and discovers her family's Jewish roots in the Iberian Peninsula.

This fascinating tale explores the story of the crypto-Jews who converted to Catholicism but continued to practice Judaism in secret during the dark periods of European history.

Sevap/Mitzvah

USA - Bosnia| Narrative | 2023  |  20 min.

A poetic and moving dramatization of a true story.

2023 Winner of the Humanitas Prize.

In Nazi-occupied Bosnia, a Muslim woman risks her life to save her Jewish friend. Fifty years later Bosnia is at war and the tables are turned.

 

The following excellent films are not scheduled in the 2024 SCJFFbut we wish we could include them!

Golda’s War Diaries

Israel | Documentary | 2023 | 74 min. 

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, Israel’s National Archive released the official protocols of Prime Minister Golda Meir’s office from the time of the Yom Kippur War, documents unknown to the public until now. These documents leave no room for doubt.  Despite the war’s steep cost, the facts show that Golda did not fail. In fact, Israel’s achievements resulting from the war made it possible, five years later, to reach a peace agreement with Egypt.

More Than I Deserve

Israel | Narrative  | 2022  | 82 min.

Newly arrived in Israel from Ukraine, a single mother and her son engage with a religious neighbor in this finely textured coming-of-age drama. Twelve-year-old Pinhas, seeking to fit in, asks permission to join classmates in bar mitzvah studies, but his atheist mother refuses. Pinhas turns to a recent Chabad recruit for help and all three lives are changed in unforeseen ways.

Nominated for seven Israeli Academy Awards.

Delegation

Israel | Narrative  | 2022  | 99 min.

A group of young Israelis land in Warsaw with a few nervous adults on a school trip to concentration camps around Poland, where the incomprehensible past of WW2 meets the complex reality of being an Israeli teenager today. The clash between the worlds of the past and the present forms the base of this perceptive coming-of-age story.   WINNER, Best Screenplay and Best Ensemble cast. the 2023 Jerusalem International Film Festival.

Four Winters: A Story of Jewish Partisan Resistance and Heroism in WWII

USA | Documenary | 2022  |  99 min. 

Over 25,000 Jewish partisans fought back against the Nazis and their collaborators from deep within the forests of WWII’s Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Belarus. Against extraordinary odds, they escaped Nazi slaughter, and evolved from young innocents to courageous resistance fighters, shattering the myth of Jewish passivity. The last surviving partisans tell their stories of resistance in FOUR WINTERS, revealing a stunning narrative of heroism and resilience.  

Neighbors

Switzerland - France | Drama | 2021  |  124 min.

In a Syrian border village in the early 1980’s, little Sero attends school for the first time. But a new teacher loyal to President Hafez al-Assad is determined to make proud Jew-hating Syrians out of the Kurdish children. The lessons upset and confuse Sero because his long-time neighbors are a lovable Jewish family. With delicate humor and satire, the film finds light moments amidst dictatorship and dark drama. The film was inspired by the director’s personal experiences, and his bitter-sweet memories connect the Syrian tragedy to the present. 

Unreined

USA - Israel  | Documentary | 2020  |  57 min.

Nancy Zeitlin was a a promising young rider from San Diego who moved to Israel as a child and became a champion equestrian. Fearless, she faced societal restrictions head-on, broke stereotypes, and explored restricted territory in pursuit of her dream. Then, amidst upheaval in both her family and in her adopted country, she did the unthinkable: she became a trainer to Palestinians in the West Bank. As Israel is rocked by  the Second Intifada, Nancy puts her life at risk to keep hope alive for her Palestinian team of riding students. Her many-layered story parallels the growth of the State of Israel, its wars, its changing borders, and its internal conflicts. UNREINED is a moving tale of embracing "the Other", made possible through a shared affection for horses.

 


Kiss Me Kosher

Israel - Germany | 2021  |  105 min.   |  Comedy

A subversive love story between clashing cultures and families, Kiss Me Kosher is a romantic misadventure crossing all borders. When two generations of Israeli women fall for a German woman and a Palestinian man, chaos follows. What happens with lovers who don't fit but do belong together ?

Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGGjxGYAWo8&t=117s

No Name Restaurant

Germany | 2022  |  120 min.  |  Comedy

ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT. To save the synagogue of the once largest Jewish community in the world from being shut down, Ben, an ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn Jew visiting Jerusalem, is sent out to be the desperately needed tenth man for the ceremonies. Having missed his plane and been kicked off the bus in the Sinai Desert, his last hope is Adel, a grumpy Bedouin looking for his camel.  When their car breaks down, it becomes a matter of their very survival.

The 90-Minute War

Israel  | 2017  |  85 min.   |  Comedy

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on for decades, with no end in sight. Fed up with one failed deal after another, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders agree to settle things once and for all … with a soccer match. One game. One winner. Losing side has to pick up and find a new homeland. This politically-incorrect, satirical mockumentary takes a fresh and hilarious lens to the conflict.

 

 

Thanks to all who came out to the Brotherhood Brunch on Sunday, October  22

Santa Cruz Jewish Film Festival Director Paul Drescher presented the 25-minute narrative film THE BOY during the Brotherhood's bagel brunch in the Temple Social Hall. A technical glitch delayed the presentation by five minutes but was resolved and the film was presented with sound on the  large screen. Those in attendance had an opportunity to comment on the movie afterwards and it was a little bit of group therapy in dealing with recent trauma.

THE BOY is set on the border with Gaza where a traumatized young man lives with his father. It was written, produced, and directed by Yahav Winner, who was killed by Hamas terrorists on October 7 while protecting his wife and young daughter, who both survived. A donation jar was circulated and over $600 was collected for Yahav's wife and young daughter, who survived the terror attack by sheltering in a neighbor's safe room for 24 hours until rescued. 

For those wishing to contribute, the donation page can be found at https://giveback.co.il/project/74892. The page is in Hebrew but you can translate it to English by clicking on the language icon at the top right. Donations are made by credit card in Israeli shekels, and the current exchange rate is $1 = 4 shekels.

If you have questions about this fundraiser or the Santa Cruz Jewish Film Festival please email SCJFFinfo@gmail.com

Click to visit the webpage for THE BOY at Go2Films, Israel.

 

Shaylee and infant daughter Shaya, who survived the terror attack, and up-and-coming filmmaker Yahav Winner, who was murdered by terrorists on October 7 at their home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza near the border with Gaza. Here is one news story about the tragedy:

https://www.screendaily.com/news/israeli-filmmaker-yahav-winner-found-dead-following-hamas-attack/5186795.article 

Thanks to all who attended Jewish Film Night on Saturday, May 13! We look forward to meeting again in the theater in the coming year for another program of engaging and uplifting films!

Special thanks to all the donors and sponsors who made Jewish Film Night possible!

At the present time, none of the three documentary films that were screened are available for public viewing online. Film Festival Director Paul Drescher interviewed Professor Yossi Leshem, "Israel's Birdman", on Zoom to follow up on the film WINGS of CHANGE, released in 2017, and that edited interview can be viewed using this link: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/826296519

If you would like to contribute toward the next Jewish Film Night in Santa Cruz, please consider a donation to the SCJFF using this link https://www.tbeaptos.org/payment.php?payment_type=donate&donation_type_id=5933015.  THANK YOU!

Paddling For Life                          Wings of Change        

 The Pink Lionesses are a women's group that trains and races Dragon Boats on the Kineret (the Sea of Galilee) and the Yarkon River, Israel. Their common bond? They are all survivors of breast cancer. Their caring and camaraderie, despite age and cultural differences, are an inspiration to live a competitive yet compassionate life.

"Israel's Birdman", a lightly religious, authoritative man with rugged Israeli charm and the persuasion skills of a salesman, is the primary defender of bird habitat in the region. Even the Israeli Air Force consults with him to protect planes, pilots, and birds. He is a groundbreaker in talks with neighbors  promoting peaceful coexistence, with the aid of barn owls as natural pest exterminators.

WAVES APART

WAVES APART examines the history of Nazi symbols and anti-semitism in surfing. You can view the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw1_g6syyWY 

Recent USC Film School grad Josh Greene was selected to present his film in the up-and-coming documentary filmmaker section at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival! Congrats, Josh, and best wishes for success in your film career!

If you have questions about the Santa Cruz Jewish Film Festival please email SCJFFinfo@gmail.com.

The SCJFF is a function of Temple Beth El and our May 13 event was sponsored by the Santa Cruz Public Libraries and donors like YOU. Donate to the Santa Cruz Jewish Film Festival here. We look forward to seeing you at future events!

Mon, February 26 2024 17 Adar I 5784