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East Bay International Jewish Film Festival

Feb 12, 2018 02:40PM

Entertainment Greats in Jewish Film Festival

The behind-the-scenes stories of such entertainment greats as actor/singer Sammy Davis, Jr., TV genius Norman Lear, actress Hedy Lamarr, composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim and violinist virtuoso Itzhak Perlman will be captured on screen at this year’s East Bay International Jewish Film Festival, opening at the Century 16 Theatre in downtown Pleasant Hill on Saturday, March 3. The festival, now in its 23rd year, will continue through Monday, March 12.

Not only does the documentary I’ve Gotta Be Me showcase Sammy Davis Jr.’s electrifying talent, but it also details his support for John F. Kennedy’s presidential bid and his later political shift to Richard Nixon. Another documentary, Bombshell, reveals the little known scientific inventions developed by the glamorous actress Hedy Lamarr in the 1940s, and an in-depth film about television producer Norman Lear explores how he used satirical sitcoms such as All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons to combat prejudice. Additionally, The House of Z chronicles the ups and downs and ups again of fashionista Zac Posen, a judge on Project Runway who has dressed such A-list stars as Uma Thurman, Glenn Close, Natalie Portman, and Jennifer Lopez.

The festival also features #StandUp, a special film collection on Sunday, March 11, that portrays how bigotry and bullying negatively impact our society. Included in the line-up is the stirring drama Marshall, which depicts one of Thurgood Marshall’s cases as a young attorney for the NAACP. Other films on the roster are Hanna’s Sleeping Dogs, about anti-Semitism in post-WWII Eastern Europe, and In the Fade -- the riveting Golden Globe and Academy Awards nominee that is a cautionary tale about intolerance.

“I often tell people that you don’t have to get on a plane to see the world. This year’s line-up includes movies from Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Germany, Israel, Italy, Hungary, Netherlands, Russia, and South Africa,” says Festival Chairperson Margaret Winter. “Many of our films also star actors whose names you will recognize, including Christopher Plummer, Toni Colette, Daniel Radcliffe, Elliott Gould, and Bebe Neuwirth. Diane Kruger, who starred as Nicholas Cage’s romantic interest in National Treasure, does an amazing job in the thriller In the Fade, where she plays a German citizen whose husband, a Turkish immigrant, becomes the target of neo-Nazis.”

The complete EBIJFF schedule and tickets are available at or by calling 925.240.3053. Festival supporters include the City of Pleasant Hill and Pleasant Hill Downtown Merchants, Aaron Metals, Buttercup Grill, City National Bank, Destination Wealth Management, Kabab Burger, Sinai Memorial Chapel, the Contra Costa Jewish Community Center, and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay.