Panels and Workshops


Many of SFJFF’S screenings are followed by Q&A’s with visiting artists, directors and producers. In addition we have planned the following extended conversations and discussions. For updates on expected guests, please visit our festival guests page. 


Panel Discussion - Thursday July 28

Immediately following the 5:30 pm screening of Between Two Worlds at the Castro Theatre.

Free of charge for ticket holders to the screening.

The personal essay film Between Two Worlds raises provocative questions about who speaks for Jews today, and what values the next generation of American Jews is embracing, especially regarding Israel. A group of thoughtful scholars, joined by the filmmakers, will help tease out the issues.

Moderator: Michael Krasny –   Host of  KQED-FM’s Forum


Rabbi Irwin Kula – President, Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.  Renowned speaker on spiritual engagement; author, Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life 

Riv-Ellen Prell – Professor and Chair of American Studies, University of Minnesota. Author and scholar of gender, class and Jewish identity.

Len Saxe – Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies, Brandeis University. Author and researcher on development of Jewish identity.

Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman – Co-directors, Between Two Worlds


Workshop: How To Talk About Controversial Films Without Fighting - Sunday July 31

Fisher Family Hall, JCCSF
Bagel Breakfast: 9:00–9:30 am
Workshop: 9:30–11:00 am

Repeats Sunday, July 31, at 4:00–5:30 pm
Berkeley Rep School of Theatre at 2071 Addison Street, Berkeley

Admission Free!

Seeing a controversial film can sometimes get us charged, in anger or frustration. Often the tendency is to talk to people who think just like we do and reinforce our own views. Come learn key skills for having vibrant, open and honest conversations on difficult topics. Film clips will be used to help stimulate and engage us in discussion.

Facilitator: Rachel Eryn Kalish

This program is part of the Year of Civil Discourse (YCD), a joint project of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Community Federation, in close partnership with the Northern California Board of Rabbis and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay.



Spotlight on Poland and the Jews

Few countries have had a more troubled history with its Jewish population than Poland in the 20th century. Approximately three million Polish Jews were put to death by the Nazis during World War II; of the surviving generation, thousands were pressured to leave in anti-Semitic purges in the 1960s. Yet grouped by nationality, Poles also represent the largest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Today, despite (or perhaps because of) this painful history, Poland is experiencing a budding resurgence of interest in Jewish life, including among non-Jews. It is in this light that we present a trove of films, from or about Poland, that illuminate these seeming contradictions. Highlights include:

100 Voices: A musical documentary that showcases the rich tradition of Jewish culture and cantorial art in Poland.

Little Rose: A taut espionage thriller zeroing in on Poland’s repressive political environment, fraught with anti-Semitism, in the late 1960s.

Joanna: A drama set in World War II Warsaw, where a lonely woman hides a little Jewish girl at great peril to herself. 

TornA documentary about a Polish priest who discovers his Jewish roots and wants to convert back to Judaism. 

Plus the short films Passion According to the Polish Community of Pruchnik, Red Shirley, Girl from a Reading Primer and Inventory


Facing Their Own Cameras: Personal Documentaries

This year’s SFJFF lineup features a breathtaking display of personal documentary filmmaking: essays, confessionals, autobiographies, op-eds, riffs and rants. Many of the filmmakers will be accompanying their films.

77 Steps: Arab-Israeli filmmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana moves to Tel Aviv, falls in love with her Jewish-Canadian neighbor and makes a raw, personal film about their relationship.

Between Two Worlds: Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman’s personal essay asks what matters to American Jews today; followed by a panel in San Francisco.

Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death and Technology:  Tiffany Shlain’s imaginative think-piece on our über-wired world.

An Encounter with Simone Weil: Julia Haslett turns her lens on herself in relation to 20th century French philosopher Simone Weil.

Five Weddings and a Felony: Twentysomething Josh Freed’s warts-and-all comic self-portrait documents his inability to commit to a relationship.

My Life with Carlos: German Berger-Hertz’s personal journey back to Chile retraces the final days of his idealistic father, who was executed in the aftermath of the 1973 military coup.

The Queen Has No Crown: Tomer Heymann uses home movies and his ever-present video camera to explore both the personal and the larger politics of belonging, displacement and sexuality in this portrait of an Israeli family.


2011 SFJFF Freedom of Expression Award -               Kirk Douglas

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is deeply honored to recognize living screen legend Kirk Douglas, who in 1960 defied industry practice and the national mood by insisting on giving rightful credit to writer Dalton Trumbo for his screenplay of Stanley Kubrick’s widescreen epic, Spartacus, which Douglas produced as well as starred in. Though the decision was widely criticized at the time, Douglas is now recognized as having helped put an end to the legacy of the McCarthy era in Hollywood. At 94 years old, with over 87 films, 10 plays and nine books to his credit, as well as three Oscar nominations, Douglas continues to regard breaking the blacklist as his proudest career achievement. Douglas will accept his award on Sunday July 24 before our gala screening of Spartacus


Jews in Toons: An Uproarious Evening With Krusty, Kyle and Other Favorites

Join us for an evening of collective laughter as we (re)introduce you to classic Jewish episodes from three top-notch animated series, capped by hilarious insights from longtime writer-producer of The Simpsons, Mike Reiss. Screening are episodes from Family Guy ("When You Wish Upon a Weinstein") South Park ("The Passion of the Jew") and The Simpsons ("Like Father, Like Clown"). You won't want to miss this one-of-a-kind, one-time-only uproarious event.

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