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March 2017 Pleasant Hill Mayor's Message

Feb 27, 2017 08:24AM ● By Michael Harris

Michael G. Harris, OD, Mayor, City of Pleasant Hill

An international film festival in Pleasant Hill? We may not be Cannes or Sundance, but this March Pleasant Hill will roll out the red carpet for The East Bay International Jewish Film Festival. With the help of our wonderful city staff and the support of many local organizations and individuals, the magic of film will come to Downtown Pleasant Hill during the March 2 through 12 run of this prestigious film festival, now in its 22nd year.

According to festival director Riva Gambert, The East Bay International Jewish Film Festival line-up spans the globe, with films from Argentina, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the USA. More than 35 movies will be screened at the Century 16 Theatres in Pleasant Hill, including dramas, comedies, documentaries, and short features.

 “Although we don’t select our films with a theme in mind,” says festival chair Margaret Winter, “one over-arching theme appears in several films: the transformative power of music to build cultural bridges and change lives.” The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev showcases the growing rebellion within a multi-generational musical family from Tajikistan, while Leonard Cohen, The Man I Am is an intimate celebration of the legendary singer/songwriter’s life. Other music-oriented films include Alive Inside, about the relationship between music and memory in those with Alzheimer’s disease; Body and Soul, about the musical collaboration between African American and Jewish musicians; and the Argentinean drama Glories of Tango.

On a more serious note, Hans Knoop, the real-life hero of the Dutch super-hit The Menten Affair, will be at the Century 16 to introduce the film and answer questions. He was only in his 20s when, despite threats, he persisted in his investigation of the mega-millionaire Pieter Menten, who some suspected of being a war criminal during World War II. Part historical drama and part thriller, this powerfully moving film will screen on Sunday, March 5, at 6:15pm.

The festival is bringing students from local community colleges to the screening of The Wedding Doll on Sunday, March 12. This drama opens a window into the challenges faced by a 20-something girl with cognitive challenges who fights for more independence against her mother's well-meaning but heavy-handed supervision. This drama will touch your heart with stellar performances and its message about human dignity.


A number of light-hearted films will be screened this year. On Saturday, March 4, at 3:30pm, the festival will present a free screening of the comedy classic The Frisco Kid (first come, first serve, no tickets needed). This warm-hearted film was chosen as a cinematic tribute to the late actor Gene Wilder, who encounters many challenges as he travels across America to San Francisco during the Gold Rush days. Harrison Ford plays a train robber who befriends Wilder.

Another family friendly film is the warm-hearted Abulele, about invisible creatures who befriend children facing life challenges. Both films are suitable for children as young as 5th graders.  

One Facebook posting tells the whole story about the festival. “I loved this film festival, which I discovered by happenstance last year. I went to more than half of the films, an expertly curated collection that made me laugh, cry, and think. I've been looking forward to its return all year!”

The festival sponsors include the City of Pleasant Hill, Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, and Downtown merchants. For a complete schedule and advance tickets, go to or call 925.240.3053. See you at the movies!