At SFJFF opening night, we’re all just happy to be back at the Castro J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on July 23, 2022

A giddy crowd of over 600 gathered last night at the Castro Theatre for the first full-fledged in-person installment of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival since 2019. Knife-like winds as people lined up outside couldnt blow away the high spirits of those who look forward to the film fest every year.

A great opening night for @SFJewishFilm! The movie, "Karaoke," was a crowd-pleaser, and the audience was excited to meet star Lior Asheknazi, who American audiences know from many Israeli hits.

J. The Jewish News of Northern California (@jewishsf) July 22, 2022

People schmoozed and embraced old friends as they settled in with their popcorn and print copies of J.s film fest issue. First up was a run-through of some of the best of the film fests in-house promo short films over the years concluding with this years, in which a couple humorously, and relatably, grapples with going out to a movie with other people for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. (Of course, they end up at an SFJFF screening at the Albany Twin, where the East Bay portion of the festival kicks off next week. The video embedded below is a version of the one that showed last night.)

In her opening remarks, Jewish Film Institute executive director Lexi Leban was visibly excited to be back in the grand surrounds of the Castro Theatre. Moshe Rosenthal, director of the opening night film, Karaoke, said in his introduction to the film that he had been to the Castro before, but never dreamed that a movie of his would be shown there.

Jewish Film Institute executive director @LexiLeban was in high spirits in her opening remarks. The festival is back in the iconic @Castro_Theatre after two years away!

J. The Jewish News of Northern California (@jewishsf) July 22, 2022

The film was received warmly by the crowd, who were treated to a live Q&A with Rosenthal and one of the films stars, Lior Ashkenazi, familiar to longtime viewers of Israeli cinema from hits like Walk on Water and Footnote.

In his pre-movie remarks, Karaoke director Moshe Rosenthal said hed been to the Castro Theatre before but never dreamed his own movie would be shown in the classic movie palace.

J. The Jewish News of Northern California (@jewishsf) July 22, 2022

At the outdoor afterparty at the Randall Museum, festival goers mingled with filmmakers as attendees circulated between tables stocked with wine, cookies and hummus. Ashkenazi stationed himself by a large vat of fresh hummus (from Pomella) near the entrance to the party and held court there.

He was indeed there! At the after party, he stationed himself near a large bowl of hummus and did not move all night. Our @davidAMwilensky asked him what else he's going to do while he's in town. Said he and the director, Moshe Rosenthal, really want to check out Alcatraz.

J. The Jewish News of Northern California (@jewishsf) July 22, 2022

In an interview with J. over the vat of hummus Ashkenazi recalled having a good time in San Francisco about 10 years ago when he was here promoting a previous film. Hes here until Sunday, and hes got big plans: I made the tourist tour the first time, but Ive never been to Alcatraz, he said. So Moshe and I, were going to Alcatraz.


Thanks to everyone who joined us for our SFJFF42 Opening Night film KARAOKE at the Castro Theatre yesterday! We are back at it today w amazing films screening at the Castro, including KARAOKE star Lior Ashkenazis directorial debut PERFECT STRANGERS!

Jewish Film Institute (@SFJewishFilm) July 22, 2022

Ashkenazi, who has already seen some of the Israeli films in the festival, especially recommended (of course) his own feature-length directorial debut, Perfect Strangers, which shows tonight at 8:35 p.m. at the Castro and July 27 at 1 p.m. at the Albany Twin. And he put in a plug for the festivals closing-night film, Let It Be Morning: Its a very good movie.

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival continues through Aug. 7 with screenings in San Francisco, Albany and online. This reporter will be doing a live Q&A with Tom Weidlinger on July 29 after the screening of his film The Restless Hungarian.

Check out our full coverage of the festival here:

Review of Bernsteins Wall, showing tomorrow:

Interview with David Strathairn, whose film Remember This premieres on Sunday:

J. The Jewish News of Northern California (@jewishsf) July 22, 2022

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At SFJFF opening night, we're all just happy to be back at the Castro J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

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