San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 37, Week One

The first week of the festival looks back to both inspirations and terrors of the past.

For its 38th big year of doing what it does, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival continues to do it very well, again bringing a baker’s-dozen-plus of delicious celluloid — digital, at least — noshes to the Castro Theatre for two weeks and change. Things kick off in a simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting fashion with Lisa D’Apolito’s documentary Love, Gilda, a long overdue look at the life and death of comedian Gilda Radner. D’Apolito uses journals and personal recordings to go inside the heart and mind of the Saturday Night Live pioneer, who in addition to battling cancer was neither the first nor the last comedienne to fight the misogynistic belief that women aren’t funny. (F’reals: Fuck John Belushi.)

Since the rise of right-wing populist demagogues is something we’re having to deal with again, thanks to the dumb-dumbs who voted Donald Trump into office, in The Waldheim Waltz Ruth Beckermann revisits footage she shot of Nazi war criminal Kurt Waldheim during his successful run for the Austrian presidency in 1984. And since it wouldn’t be the SFJFF without at least one film exploring the connection between Jewish and Black culture, this week’s offering is Sophie Huber’s Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes, which looks back on the seminal jazz label founded by a pair of Jewish refugees.

Opens Thursday at the Castro Theatre.

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