Five Years of Opening Nights at the SF Jewish Film Festival

The 37th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival kicks off this week with the delightful narrative feature Keep the Change with director Rachel Israel and actors Samantha Elisofon and Brandon Polansky in person, and to celebrate our 37th anniversary, we’re looking back at five years of Opening Night films, guests performances and parties.

2017 — Keep the Change

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The Tribeca Film Festival award-winning narrative Keep the Change will open the 37th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival this Thursday.

2016 — The Tenth Man

SFJFF36 opened with the Argentinian narrative feature The Tenth Man, about a man living in New York who reluctantly returns to his Orthodox neighborhood of Buenos Aires and ends up falling for a woman his father Usher has slyly set him up with through a laundry list of tasks. Director Daniel Burman attended the screening and delighted audiences with tales from the film set. Following the film, guests headed over to the Contemporary Jewish Museum for the Opening Night Bash and exclusive viewing of Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition.
Watch The Tenth Man on JFI On Demand

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The Tenth Man director Daniel Burman (left) and JFI Program Director Jay Ronseblatt (right) take questions from the audience at the Opening Night presentation of SFJFF36.
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SFJFF36 Opening Night Bash attendees were treated to an exclusive viewing of Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

2015 —Dough

SFJFF35 got off to a rollicking start with Dough, starring Jonathan Pryce, about an aging Jewish baker who receives some help with his business from a Darfur refugee who introduces marijuana into the recipes. Audiences were delighted withe heartfelt and humorous film, which went on to a stellar theatrical run based off of its reception at SFJFF35. Following the film, guests headed over to the Contemporary Jewish Museum for the Opening Night Bash and exclusive viewing of Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait.
Watch Dough on JFI On Demand

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Director Jonathan Goldschmidt and actor Jerome Holder onstage at the Castro Theatre for SFJFF35 Opening Night
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A full Castro Theatre at SFJFF35 Opening Night for Dough

2014 —The Green Prince

In one of the most memorable Opening Nights in recent SFJFF editions, 2014 kicked off with a screening of the electrifying documentary thriller The Green Prince. Audiences responded with a prolonged standing ovation when the subjects from the film, Palestinian Mosab Hassan Yousef and Israeli Gonen Ben-Yitzhak, made a surprise appearance for the Q&A.
Watch The Green Prince on JFI On Demand

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From left: The Green Prince director Nadav Schirman and subjects Gonen Ben-Yitzhak and Mosab Hassan Yousef at SFJFF34 Opening Night: The Green Prince.
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A jazz band plays for attendees at the SFJFF34 Opening Night Bash

2013 — The Zigzag Kid

SFJFF33 opened with the Bay Area premiere of The Zigzag Kid a twist and turns plot through Europe and the coming of age story of Nono, a 13 year-old with a rich imagination. Director Vincent Bal and actor Jessica Zeijlmaker were in attendance to present the film.
Watch The Zigzag Kid on JFI On Demand

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Actor Jessica Zeijlmaker and director Vincent Bal from The Zigzag Kid on the red carpet for SFJFF33 Opening Night

2012 — Hava Nagila (The Movie)

A fan favorite from the very start, Robert Grossman’s Hava Nagila (The Movie) is the definitive history of one of Jewish culture’s most beloved and ubiquitous dances. The 2012 Opening Night film remains one of the most memorable programs in the Festival’s history
Watch Hava Nagila (The Movie) on JFI On Demand

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The filmmaking team behind Hava Nagila (The Movie) onstage at the Castro Theatre for SFJFF32 Opening Night
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The atmosphere at the 2012 Opening Night Bash at the Swedish American Hall

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