The 2020 Santa Cruz Jewish Film Festival is going virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect to be back in theatrical venues for the communal film festival experience in 2021.

In the meantime, we are partnering with filmmakers and distributors to bring you films for viewing online that have been selected by our programming committee. We are pleased to announce that PICTURE OF HIS LIFE, profiling acclaimed wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum is now avilable for viewing for $9.99 by clicking here. The SCJFF receives a portion of your viewing fee and you also support independent Jewish film production and distribution with your purchase. You can view the trailer for free and read a review of the film  at these links.

And by the way…

Our sister group, the Santa Cruz Jewish Film Club (SCJFC) watches and discusses Jewish-themed films and discusses one every Sunday evening in a Zoom meeting. To learn about the SJFC please send an email by clicking here or join in the discussion this Sunday at 7 pm PDT by clicking here.

And someday soon we hope to share more from our scheduled 2020 program…

Before COVID-19, the 2020 Santa Cruz Jewish Film Festival  was going to go like this:

Opening Night Reception at the Jewish Community Center, Temple Beth El – 3055 Porter Gulch Road, Aptos

Suggested donation:  $25 per person, $45 per couple, includes reception and movie.

5:30 pm Reception: Shmooze and nosh with friends and fellow film lovers while enjoying the mellow live music of Persephony. Fill a plate of savory and sweet finger foods lovingly prepared by master caterer Zena and her crew.  Raffle to put other raffles to shame.  With a little mazel a $1 ticket could win you a gift basket full of glitzy first-class stuff!  Seriously, you don’t want to miss this chance to support the festival and mingle with our good-looking patrons and volunteers.

7:10 pm   THE CHOP  – We open with a cute short film from the U.K. A talented Kosher butcher applies for a job in a Halal butcher shop. What could possibly go wrong?

7:30 pm  ACROSS THE LINE  –  The Palestinian-Israel conflict is distilled in this tongue-in-cheek short film. Hananel, a young and stubborn religious Israeli is hurrying home for Shabbat from the West Bank. He encounters Munthir, a needy and equally stubborn Palestinian hitchhiker, and they embark on a series of mix-ups that teach them about communication, friendship, respect, and even love.

8:00 pm  AULCIE  – Aulcie Perry was a talented African-American player rejected by the NBA but recruited to play for the Maccabee Tel Aviv professional basketball team. He quickly becomes the country’s biggest star, leading his team to victory in international tournaments. He finds love with Israeli super model Tami Ben Ami to form an Israeli power couple. HIs fall from grace and ultimate redemption create an uplifting and soulful story, from award-winning director Dani Menkin.

at Watsonville Cabrillo College Forum, l Watsonville                   No charge, donations appreciated.

2:00 pm JAI   –  How do Holocaust survivor grandparents explain when their dear young Mexican Jewish grandchild asks about the numbers tattooed on their arms? The answers they give are nothing short of pure life-affirming magic!

2:15 pm YOUR WISHES IN HEAVEN   – The North African Sephardic community originated with their expulsion from Spain in 1492. This documentary in Spanish and English uncovers a treasure trove of Sephardic culture, accompanied by the enchanting melodies of original Sephardic music. Filmmmaking crew membe Ana Isabel Munoz will be on hand to answer questions about the film.

7:00 pm SUSTAINABLE NATION – at UC Santa Cruz Hillel, 222 Cardiff Place, Santa Cruz     This documentary profiles three Israeli entrepreneurs solving environmental problems around the world: in Israel, India, Africa, and even in the central valley of California.

 Del Mar Theater    1124 Pacific Ave.  Santa Cruz       No charge, donations appreciated.

6:30 pm BOX FOR LIFE  –  Noah Klieger has been described as the Israeli Forrest Gump. He joined the boxing team of Auschwitz and consequently become the last living member of that team. Liberated from those horrors, he nearly drowned after jumping ship when the British stopped the Exodus immigrant transport ship to Israel. He fought in the war of independence and then started a career in journalism, covereing the Eichmann and “Ivan the Terrible” trials on the way to becaming the oldest active journalist in the world. Don’t miss this amazing and inspirational documentary biography!

7:35 pm  THE CHOP –  A repeat showing of this short comedy about a Kosher butcher in London.

7:55 pm HATE AMONG US –  An examination of the history and recent rise in hate crimes and anti-semitism, from producers Montel Williams and Dean Cain (who are not Jewish).  “It may start with the Jews, but it never ends with the Jews.”

Aegis Aptos Community Room, 125 Heather Terrace, Aptos         No charge, donations appreciated.  Refreshments served.

2:10 pm  THEY’RE WITH ME  –   Rachel is a lovesick thirty year old whose broken engagement has left her emotionally paralyzed.  But  that is about to change when she is visited by her dead relatives, who show up to help her move forward with her life.

2:30 pm  LEAVING MEMEL  –   One family’s thrilling story of life and death, stealth and deception, survivng the Holocaust and coming to America. Filmmaker Fred Finkelstein will be on hand to present this emotional documentary and answer questions about his family and the making of the film.

Del Mar Theater  1124 Pacific Ave.  Santa Cruz     We hope!  No charge, donations appreciated.

5:30 pm  SUSTAINABLE NATION  –   In a world where one in ten people don’t have access to clean water, three Israeli entrepreneurs are working to bring sustainable water solutions to impoverished areas and share Israel’s smart agriculture technology, demonstrating the Jewish values of tikkun olam, healing the world. An inspiring documentary film for anyone interested in sustainabe solutions to environmental challenges.

6:30 pm   A PICTURE OF HIS LIFE  –  Brave, iron-willed Amos Nachoum defied a domineering father to become one of the greatest underwater photographers of all time. Fascinated by the most fearsome creatures on Earth, he developed a unique photographic approach that puts him face-to-face with his dangerous subjects, without protection. At age 65 he undertakes his greatest challenge yet: photographing polar bears underwater in the open sea. Another stunningly beautiful film from directors Yonatan Nir and  Dani Menkin.

7:45 pm   TEL AVIV ON FIRE – This critically acclaimed comic film satirizes the cross-purposes and misunderstandings of Palestinians and Israelis. A Palestinian TV production company hires an inexperienced young Israeli Arab as a writer, and he then enlists an egocentric Israeli checkpoint commander tohelp with his Hebrew translations. The soldier’s plot ideas inspire havoc on the set of the 1960’s-era spy drama, provoking total disagreement on how the story ends before the show’s backers pull the plug.

Jewish Community Center, Temple Beth El – 3055 Porter Gulch Road, Aptos  No charge, donations appreciated.

7:15 pm    BLACK HAT   –  An Orthodox married man carries on a secret life. Will his black hat give him away?

7:30pm  LOVE IN SUSPENDERS  – This geriatric  romantic comedy features zany and heartwarming characters in odd and emotional situations. In an “accidental” encounter, erratic driver Tammy, a 64 year old widow, distracted by the memory of her loving, late husband, inadvertently hits Beno, a bitter 70 year old widower. So begins an up and down love affair that will leave you inspired and amused.

The 2020 Santa Cruz Jewish Film Festival invites you to visit this page for updates on the rescheduling of an extraordinary week of Jewish films and community events. And please donate here to make our festival possible! The films and venues cost money and we need and appreciate your support!

The SCJFF would like to note that 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Aushwitz. May this lesson from history and the memory of the victims never be forgotten.