Dear JFI Friends and Family,
In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. It ensured that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. JFI honors the 30th anniversary of this landmark act with six superb films focusing on people with disabilities. The screenings of these films at The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival throughout the years have been some of the most memorable and moving events in recent festival history and have included several guests with disabilities. We were fortunate enough to preserve their spirited q&a’s which we’ve included for you here along with the films themselves. Most recently JFI’s Cinegogue Summer Days program featured extensive use of ASL translation and Closed Captioning and we were honored to host a special virtual conversation with the creators and subjects of the hit Netflix film CRIP CAMP. Whether you’re revisiting these terrific films or watching them for the first time, they, along with their creators, subjects, and actors, continue to inspire.
Until next time.
Jay Rosenblatt, Program Director
Joshua Moore, Programmer
Margherita Ghetti, Next Wave Programmer
ANITA (SFJFF30 CENTERPIECE FILM)
ANITA (SFJFF 2010) is the story of a young woman (Alejandra Manzo) with Down syndrome who lives a happy, routine life in Buenos Aires, being meticulously cared for by her mother Dora (Academy Award nominee Norma Aleandro). One tragic morning in 1994, everything changes when Anita is left alone, confused and helpless after the nearby Argentine Israelite Mutual Association is bombed (the deadliest bombing in Argentina’s history). As Anita wanders through the city, she learns not only to care for herself, but touches the lives of those around her, from an alcoholic to a family of Asian immigrants.
Bonus Video: Former board member Dan Wohlfeiler translates for guest Alejandra Manzo’s interview with Program Director Jay Rosenblatt
CRIP CAMP (CINEGOGUE SESSIONS LIVE! — VOL. 1)
No one at Camp Jened could’ve imagined that those summers in the woods together would be the beginnings of a revolution. Just down the road from Woodstock, Camp Jened was a camp for disabled teens. In Crip Camp (JFI Cinegogue Sessions Live) Directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht (a former Jened camper himself) deliver a rousing film about a group of campers turned activists who shaped the future of the disability-rights movement and changed accessibility legislation for everyone. Milestones in the disability-rights movement intersect with LeBrecht’s personal story and the stories of several Camp Jened alums, including then-counselor Judy Heumann.
DINA (SFJFF37 Centerpiece Documentary)
Dina, an outspoken and eccentric 49-year-old in suburban Philadelphia, invites her fiancé Scott, a Walmart door greeter, to move in with her. Having grown up neurologically diverse in a world blind to the value of their experience, the two are head-over-heels for one another, but shacking up poses a new challenge. Both are adults with developmental differences, for whom love, sexuality and independence are fraught with challenges. DINA (SFJFF 2017, Centerpiece Documentary) chronicles this poignant time in their lives and offers a glimpse into the world of people on the mental development spectrum.
Keep the Change (SFJFF 37 Opening Night Film)
Under the guise of a New York romantic comedy, Keep the Change (SFJFF 2017, Opening Night film) does something quite radical: In a refreshingly honest way it portrays two adults on the autistic spectrum. David desperately wants to be seen as “normal,” but Sarah accepts who she is. Together they navigate the vicissitudes of a burgeoning relationship. Writer/director Rachel Israel has an obvious affection for her characters, which infuses this poignant and funny film from the first frame to the last.
LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM (SFJFF33)
The clock is ticking for all of us, but it is ticking faster for Sam Bern. Sam has progeria, an extremely rare age-accelerating disease. When we first meet Sam, he is 13 years old but looks 70. His mom, Dr. Leslie Gordon, is a genetic researcher and is on a crusade to get approval of a drug that will extend Sam’s life as well as those of other children with the disease beyond the average life expectancy of 13–14 years. In Life According to Sam (SFJFF 2013) Academy Award–winning directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine have created an emotionally uplifting chronicle of determination and optimism in the face of terrible odds with Sam being one of the most inspirational documentary subjects in recent memory.