Big Nights

SFJFF38's Big Nights honor stories big and small that illuminate the diversity of Jewish experiences, champion freedom of expression, and delight with their wit and charm. This year's Festival features a silent film accompanied by a live score, partnerships with fellow arts organizations and more.

Opening Night: Love, Gilda

Opening Night: Love, Gilda

Gilda Radner was an instant sensation when she burst onto the scene with her brilliant, fearless and uproarious SNL performances, and when she died after an epic battle with ovarian cancer, a piece of us left with her. SFJFF38 is thrilled to open the Festival with this endearing, exuberant and intimate tribute that uses rare personal recordings, clear-eyed journal entries and interviews with SNL cast members to bring Radner back into our lives.

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Closing Night: Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

Closing Night: Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

It’s hard to imagine a more talented and groundbreaking performer who led a more complicated and contradictory life than Sammy Davis Jr. Featuring excerpts from his exhilarating performances and star-studded interviews, director Sam Pollard’s riveting documentary presents a very full and very human portrait of this complex, courageous and conflicted man.

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FOE Award: Liz Garbus - The Fourth Estate

FOE Award: Liz Garbus - The Fourth Estate

Prolific documentarian Liz Garbus has been at the forefront of nonfiction filmmaking for decades. From The Farm: Angola, USA to Bobby Fischer Against the World (SFJFF 2011), What Happened, Miss Simone?, and now with The Fourth Estate, her latest documentary about The New York Times' coverage of the Trump Administration's first hundred days, the work of this two-time Academy Award nominee, Peabody winner and Emmy winner is a true embodiment of the Freedom of Expression Award.

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To Dust

To Dust

CENTERPIECE NARRATIVE. A Hasidic cantor (Géza Röhrig) and an under-equipped biology professor (Matthew Broderick) become blasphemously obsessed with the process of a human body’s decay. What follows are illicit dives into anatomy textbooks, outlandish homemade experiments, a road trip to a body farm, and the ever-lurking prospect of dybbuk possession. Röhrig and Broderick are an unholy match made in deadpan heaven as they embark on this increasingly literal journey into the underground.

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The Waldheim Waltz

The Waldheim Waltz

CENTERPIECE DOCUMENTARY. In 1986 former United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim launched an election bid to become Austria’s president. But revelations suddenly surfaced that Waldheim had been a German army officer suspiciously close to Nazi wartime atrocities in the Balkans. A stunning chronicle of the heated race and its foreshadow of populist, right-wing demagogues from Donald Trump to Austria’s Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache.

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The Man Who Stole Banksy

The Man Who Stole Banksy

NEXT WAVE SPOTLIGHT. In 2007 Banksy slips into Palestine to paint on the West Bank Barrier. Someone takes offense at a piece depicting an Israeli soldier checking a donkey’s ID. A local taxi driver decides to cut it off and sell it on eBay. What follows is a story of clashing cultures, art, identity, theft and black market. Like Banksy’s art would be meaningless without its context, so the absence of it would be meaningless without an understanding of the elements that brought his artwork from Bethlehem to a Western auction house, along with the wall it was painted on.

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Satan & Adam

Satan & Adam

LOCAL SPOTLIGHT. On a street in Harlem in 1986, a young blond-haired Jewish kid who plays a first-rate blues harmonic struck up a musical friendship with a street musician named Sterling Magee, who calls himself Mr. Satan. The duo puts together an act that leads to music festivals and a successful record. Just as quickly, the act crashes when Satan mysteriously disappears. This documentary captures a fascinating journey of friendship, heartbreak and the transformative power of the blues.

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The Oslo Diaries

The Oslo Diaries

EAST BAY OPENING NIGHT. In 1992, with Israeli-Palestinian relations at a low and official communication suspended, an unlikely group of negotiators—two Israeli professors and three PLO members—met secretly in Norway. Faced with a Palestinian uprising in the West Bank, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin needed a new direction. The political drama with all its intrigue, suspicion and discord is told through the actual diaries of the negotiators and the long-discarded footage of the actual Oslo negotiations.

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Who Will Write Our History

Who Will Write Our History

PALO ALTO OPENING NIGHT. In the Warsaw Ghetto, a group of activists secretly collected eyewitness accounts, diaries and photographs that told the history of the war from the perspective of the Jews. These archives are now finally revealed to the world. Told through a combination of archival footage, photographs and masterful reenactments, the film is a stirring paean to these prescient individuals and a celebration of their optimism, persistence and grit.

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The City Without Jews (with live score)

The City Without Jews (with live score)

The economy in mythical Utopia is in the dumpster, and who is blamed? The usual scapegoat: the Jews. After the Jews are expelled, however, the economy, missing their invaluable participation, actually takes a turn for the worse, and Utopia begs them to come back. This 1924 silent Austrian satire is an object lesson in the absurdity of such thinking, and an unwitting prediction of the horrific events in Europe ten years later.

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Budapest Noir

Budapest Noir

Budapest, 1936. As the specter of the Third Reich rises beyond the Hungarian border, a newspaper reporter becomes obsessed with the mysterious death of a young woman. His dogged pursuit of her identity draws him into the most craven and corrupt corners of the city, revealing buried family secrets and burgeoning social terror. A spellbinding detective story filled with actual hardboiled history.

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All-Festival Pass

$395 Members / $420 General Public
The best way to explore SFJFF in style. The All Festival Pass gives you priority entry to every moment of SFJFF38 at every venue, including Big Nights, regular screenings and any additional ticketed events (some exceptions may apply). Become a JFI member at the Patron level and receive an All Festival Pass in addition to a year's worth of member benefits!

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