Music of all sorts, literature and art are in focus at the 31st San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, running today through Aug. 8.
Topics include the staging of a Viennese operetta by war prisoners on their way to a concentration camp; a film based on David Grossman’s novel about a 12-year-old who stops growing; the great Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem; a documentary about architect Eric Mendelsohn; and the affecting journey of cantors to perform in various Polish venues, including the Warsaw Opera House.
“In Another Lifetime” (Austria, 2010, 94 minutes): Hungarian-Jewish war prisoners being sent to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp are pausing on their way in a village, as SS becomes disorganized in the final days of the war. An opera singer from Budapest organizes an impromptu performance of the Strauss operetta “Wiener Blut.” [3:45 p.m. July 26, Castro; 8:30 p.m. Aug. 3, JCC-SF]
“Intimate Grammar” (Israel, 2010, 110 minutes): Nir Bergman’s adaptation of David Grossman’s novel tells the story of a 1960s Jerusalem teenager’s difficult life in a dysfunctional family, and his psychological-physical resistance to growing up and becoming like his parents. [6:30 p.m. July 31, JCC-SF]
“Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness” (U.S., 2011, 93 minutes): The author of the stories that became the hit musical “Fiddler on the Roof” was instrumental in transforming Yiddish from an ancient and insulated vernacular into a contemporary literary language. Called the “Jewish Mark Twain,” Aleichem memorably chronicled lives in East European shtetls in the late 19th century. [1:30 p.m. July 26, Castro; free screening]
“Incessant Visions” (Israel, 2011, 70 minutes): Self-educated architect Erich Mendelsohn learned his craft in the trenches of the Russian front in World War I. He returned to Germany and built some of the prominent buildings in Berlin, but fled the Nazis, first to Israel, then to New York and later to San Francisco, where his works include the Maimonides Hospital. He died here in 1953. [3:15 p.m. July 28, Castro]
“100 Voices: A Journey Home” (U.S., 2010, 91 minutes): Poland, one of the birthplaces of cantorial music, was also among the deadliest countries for Jews during the Holocaust. In 2009, a group of famous cantors from abroad toured the country, giving joint concerts with local singers and musicians, in venues including the Nozyk Synagogue (the only one in the country to survive the war) and the Warsaw Opera House. Directors are Danny Gold and Matthew Asner, son of actor Ed Asner. [8:15 p.m. July 28, Castro]
IF YOU GO
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., and Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California St.
When: Today through July 31 [Aug. 1-7, Oshman Family JCC, Palo Alto]
Tickets: $10.50 to $12; many events are free
Contact: (415) 621-0523, www.sfjff.org