The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, 7/18-8/4

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, July 8, 2019 03:53pm | Post a Comment

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

Amoeba is proud to co-present four films at the 39th annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF), July 18 - August 4 at locations all around the Bay Area. This year, the festival will present more than 65 films and 135 individual screenings, performances, and events in San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Rafael, Oakland, and Albany. To see the full schedule and purchase single tickets or passes, please visit the SFJFF ticketing page HERE!

Amoeba Music will be co-presenting the following films:

Shut Up and Play the Piano
Saturday July 27. 11am. Castro Theatre
Friday August 2. 8:45pm. Piedmont Theatre

Performance provocateur, professional Jewish MC, and classical savant are a few of the phrases used to Chilly Gonzalesdescribe the cult musical phenomenon that is Chilly Gonzales. This Grammy-winning Canadian pianist, composer, and performer has moved effortlessly from smoky jazz and hip-hop clubs to packed orchestra halls for the past two decades. The Montreal-born son of Ashkenazi Hungarian Jews, Gonzales (born Jason Charles Beck), was signed at the age of 23 to Warner Bros. with his alternative rock band Son. After the label dumped him, Gonzales traveled to Berlin where he recorded four rap albums, collaborated with vanguard punk high priestess Peaches, and even ran for president of the city's underground scene despite speaking no German whatsoever. Weary of his own blabbermouth avant garde persona, Gonzales took off for Paris where he made the contemplative masterpiece of Satie-esque keyboard melodies, Solo Piano. Since then Gonzales has continually expanded his repertoire by writing and producing material for Canadian rap superstar Drake and Daft Punk's electronic mega-seller Random Access Memories. First time director Philipp Jedicke's freewheeling doc portrait weaves a mosaic of thoroughly entertaining moments from the artist's career culminating in a chaotic concert, with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra taking on Gonzales in all his sweaty, swaggering, crowd-surfing glory.

The Mamboniks
Sunday July 21. 4:05pm. CineArts
Saturday July 27. 8:55pm. Castro Theatre
Saturday August 3. 4:30pm. Piedmont Theatre

"Tito Puente played at my wedding," says 'Mambo Judie,' with obvious pride. She is one of the Mamboniksmamboniks, the aging but ever upbeat Jewish aficionados of the Cuban dance craze of the 1950s. Judging by this affectionate documentary, they haven't lost their bounce as they talk about the effect the sexy Latin dance had on their youth. Cuban dance achieved worldwide popularity in the 1930s and '40s with the rumba. After World War II, Latin bands playing the mambo became wildly popular, with performers like PĂ©rez Prado, Machito and his Afro Cubans, Celia Cruz, and the New York-born Puerto Rican timbalero Tito Puente. The great Cuban musicians toured the United States, and Americans went to Havana to enjoy daiquiris and baile at clubs like the famous Tropicana. Director Lex Gillespie takes his camera to Miami Beach, the Catskills, and Havana where one of the mamboniks gives a tour of the places in the Cuban capital that he used to frequent back in the day. In New York the epicenter of mambo was the Palladium at 53rd and Broadway. Jews, Blacks, and Puerto Ricans mixed happily there in an era when de facto segregation was the rule, even in New York. "If you knew how to dance, you were accepted," recalls another mambonik. Latin music was ubiquitous at bar and bat-mitzvahs and weddings, and ruled at summer resorts in the Catskills. Latin music "appeals to the Jewish soul," explains one of the mamboniks, and such was its popularity that Jewish performers who played the music even began adopting Latin names. The Mamboniks shows this affinity as it really is: a heartfelt, profound, and joyous kinship with another culture.
NOTE: See director Lex Gillespie in person at the San Francisco date.

It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story
Saturday, July 20. 1:15pm. Castro Theatre.
Tuesday, July 23. 12:30pm. CineArts.
Sunday, July 28. 1pm. Albany Twin.

Modern jazz was born at Blue Note records when greats like Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Bud It Must SchwingPowell, John Coltrane, and Art Blakey recorded on the label in its breakthrough years. This was not due to the power of a big commercial label to attract the best talent. It was the result of the love for the music of two German Jewish refugees, Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff. "They changed the face of music completely," affirms famed saxophonist Lou Donaldson. Lion and Wolff were friends in 1930s Berlin with a shared passion for jazz. Nazi rule drove them to the United States, where it didn't take them long to see that the discrimination against Blacks in the US was uncomfortably similar to what they had faced as Jews back home. They started the company on a shoestring, never taking a dime from record sales, just reinvesting in the company. Both worked day jobs to make ends meet, but they were living a dream. Over time the immigrant jazz lovers won the respect of musicians not just for their support, but for their musical judgment. This documentary's soundtrack of classic Blue Note bebop and cool jazz and the visuals, enhanced with amazing animation, stunning archival footage, and legendary Blue Note cover art, are unforgettable. This new film nicely complements last year's Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes.

Army of Lovers in the Holy Land
Friday July 26. 4pm. Castro Theatre.
Sunday July 28. 8:55pm. Albany Twin

Thirty years after launching into international stardom, queer disco-pop band Army of Lovers embarks Army of Loverson a new chapter when frontman Jean-Pierre Barda uproots his existence to move from Sweden to Israel. So begins this fascinating documentary that examines home, identity, family, and the pull of Aliyah (immigration to Israel), even after age 50. A blend of ABBA, The B-52s, and performance art, Army of Lovers is still rocking pride celebrations and underground club parties with its mix of high camp, daring music videos, and a motto of "More is more, less is a bore." And while Barda's comembers Alexander Bard and Dominika Peczynski are his true family and his entire life has been in Sweden, his Jewish identity pulls him towards change. The salt-and-pepper-haired charmer gives up his luxurious apartment and fashionable clothes and settles into rollerblading through the streets of Tel Aviv, meeting passionate Israeli men and enjoying hummus in the backyard. But is that enough for a former pop star? Barda is can't-take-your-eyes-off-him enchanting, whether reclining on a chaise in a corset, flowered cloak and thigh-high patent leather boots, or donning tight fatigues while volunteering for the Israeli army. And while many struggle with the seeming paradox of Barda's identity - flamboyant, philosophical, and religious all at once - he never doubts who he is.

Relevant Tags

Tito Puente (4), Chilly Gonzales (2), Blue Note (10), Bay Area (34), Jewish (3), San Francisco (388), San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (5), Sfjff (3), Mambo (1), Army Of Lovers (1), Israel (5)