San Francisco Jewish  Film Festival 37, Week Two

The festival’s second week continues looking back to both inspirations and terrors of the past.

The second week of this year’s San Francisco Jewish Film Festival continues to provide fascinating new looks into age-old themes. After last week’s Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes, this week’s offering in the festival’s black•ish / jew•ish spotlight exploring the intersection between the two cultures is Sam Pollard’s documentary Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me. Davis, Jr. is a performer whose life only gets more fascinating with each passing decade, and Pollard looks at the many contradictions he embodied, being a Black man who converted to Judaism and bore the brunt of racist jokes from Sinatra in the Rat Pack, while eventually supporting noted bigot and anti-Semite Richard Nixon.

In Astrid Schult’s narrative chamber drama Winter Hunt, a young woman feigns a car accident on a dark night to make her way into the home of an aging Auschwitz guard and his adult daughter — but getting the former Nazi to admit to his crimes proves even more challenging than she expected. And while the SFJFF doesn’t yet have a Virtual Reality component like many other festivals, Winter Hunt is preceded by a thematically relevant short documentary Nazi VR, which looks at how a virtual re-creation of Auschwitz was used in the trial of real-life former SS guard Reinhold Hanning. 

Now Playing at the Castro Theatre.

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