Border Disputes

Ex-con Jack Abramoff isn’t invited to the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, but Bugsy Siegel, Arnold Rothstein, and Louis “Lepke” Buchalter happily pick up the slack. Each old-school archcriminal is the subject of a vintage Hollywood film revived by guest curator Nancy Fishman in the sidebar “Tough Guys: Images of Jewish Gangsters in Film." (These are educational films, see, as a panel of authors and professors explain after Sunday’s 4 p.m. screening of Lepke.) Malevolently ambitious perps represent just one aspect of Jewish identity on view in the festival, which time-travels from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia (Protektor) through junta-era Argentina (Te Extraño) to contemporary Israel (Jaffa, Bena). This year’s special guest is Israeli Arab author and satirist Sayed Kashua, in from Jerusalem to accept the fest’s Freedom of Expression Award. (What, you were expecting Mel Gibson?) Kashua is represented onscreen by the first three episodes of the brand-new second season of his politically attuned sitcom, Arab Labor, and Dorit Zimbalist’s one-hour portrait, Sayed Kashua — Forever Scared. Arguably the most provocative and daring festival on the crowded Bay Area film calendar, the SFJFF always comes down on the side of justice.
July 24-Aug. 9, 2010

 
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