If my admittedly flawed math skills are correct, the San Diego Jewish Film Festival is the longest running event of its kind in our fair region. Programmed and operated by the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture, the 26th annual event will take place at various area theaters including the Reading Cinemas Town Square and Arclight Cinemas.
Known for highlighting documentary and fiction works about the impact and consequences of the Holocaust on the Jewish experience, the festival has become a platform for artists trying to reclaim lost histories and expand awareness about culture, tradition and identity.
The festival's opening night film, The Price of Sugar, travels even farther back in time to address the inequalities faced by Jews working in a Dutch Colony in South America during the 18th century. Sabena Hijacking: My Version will close out the festival with a gripping re-telling of the stunning rescue mission orchestrated at the Tel Aviv airport in 1972 after terrorists stormed an airliner and took hostages.
For this preview I was able to screen Atom Egoyan's Remember starring the great Christopher Plummer as an Auschwitz survivor with dementia and Martin Landau as his friend who sends him on a journey to uncover the identity of an SS officer living and hiding in the United States.
Egoyan has often examined the way trauma bleeds across generations (The Sweet Hereafter, Ararat) and Remember utilizes a Memento-like narrative to complicate the motivations behind the theme of revenge.
While the film unfolds in a rather calm and procedural manner, it's unmistakably harsh when dealing with the lingering effects of brutality on memory. Thanks to Plummer's equally vulnerable and venomous performance, Remember works as a tight genre film with deep-seeded historical implications.
The San Diego Jewish Film Festival opens Thursday, Feb. 4, and screens through Sunday, Feb. 14. For more information visit sdcjc.org/sdjff.
Hail, Caesar!: The Coen brothers travel back to the golden age of Hollywood in this crime comedy about a movie star (George Clooney) who is kidnapped and the studio executive (Josh Brolin) who must negotiate his release.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The title really says it all, right? Jane Austen must be proud.
San Diego Jewish Film Festival: This 10-day film event features narrative and documentary features, shorts programs, panels, and parties celebrating the quality and diversity of Jewish Cinema. Screens from Thursday, Feb. 4, through Sunday, Feb. 14 at various local theaters.
The Abandoned: An unstable young woman takes a night job as a security guard only to discover a menacing presence during her first graveyard shift. Screens Friday, Feb. 5, through Wednesday, Feb. 10, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Choice: Nicholas Sparks fans (all two of you!) rejoice. Yet another one of his sappy romance novels has been adapted into a sappy, sunlit melodrama about life, romance, and of course, tragedy.
One time only
Bridge of Spies: Tom Hanks plays a New York City lawyer who defends a Russian spy (Mark Rylance) captured on American soil in the 1950s. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5 and 6, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Blade Runner: The Final Cut: The definitive version of Ridley Scott’s bleak sci-fi noir about a cop (Harrison Ford) trying to track down robots posing as humans in the not-so-distant future. Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Ken Cinema.
Die Hard: Bruce Willis’ everyday police detective wreaks some havoc on Alan Rickman’s band of euro-terrorists in what is still one of the greatest action films of all-time. Screens at 7:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8, at the Arclight Cinemas La Jolla.
Cleopatra: This mega-epic about the infamous Egyptian queen and her triumphs and romantic conquests stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton who most surely were trying to work out the kinds of their own romance on-screen. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8, at the Angelika Film Center Carmel Mountain.
Brokeback Mountain: Two cowboys played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger form a relationship while out on the range. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, at the Arclight Cinemas La Jolla.
Zoolander: Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson play clueless fashion models that must thwart the evil plans of a diabolical villain trying to orchestrate an assassination. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Wednesday, Feb. 3, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.