Sunday, October 11, 2009

Previewing and Choosing Films for Screening

“How will we preview and select films?” was a big question at the Festival’s inception. The organizers set basic standards for selecting films. Fagie Rosen created a set of rules that required previewers to view a set number of films and to become a Festival patron. Originally, everyone involved in the Festival was expected to preview the films, and each film was viewed all the way through. Over the years, committees were created to provide specific roles, and a preview committee was formed, distinct from the film selection committee and the Festival board.

As the Festival grew, more people in the local Jewish community were invited to preview and evaluate the content. We now have a group of over 15 people who participate in the preview committee. Each feature film or documentary is viewed for 20 minutes, after which the committee votes on whether to watch another 20 minutes or to reject the piece at that point. If a film looks promising after 40 minutes, it is viewed all the way through. Short films are viewed in full.

Margalit Raviv, our program chair, sources the films. She researches film festival lists from all over the world, and is in contact with dozens of film distributors. Sometimes filmmakers ask us to preview an unreleased film; most recently, we previewed “Beau Jest”, which is being shown in this year’s Festival.

We screen a variety of American and international works that highlight the Jewish experience. Some selections entertain with comedy or drama, others educate, and some celebrate the rich diversity of Jewish life in history and today's world. Each year, we screen an increasing number of Israeli films, reflecting the remarkable growth of Israeli cinema. We strive to get a mix of the best relevant feature films, documentaries, videos, and shorts that might not ordinarily be seen locally. Keeping in mind today's challenges to Judaism, selections are based on artistic merit and value of the themes and subject matter to the Jewish community. Another goal for screening films is to increase understanding of our culture, heritage, and history.

Often the content fosters a sense of culture and identity for unaffiliated Bay Area Jews. The Festival attracts many folks who might not be members of a temple, but who do come to see the films.

Each year we get feedback from attendees, which helps to guide our selection process. This year, we previewed dozens of films and had many high-energy discussions based on a broad diversity of viewpoints and opinions. There was plenty of critical and healthy debate on matters ranging from artistic merit to sensitivity to our community. As a result, we have a creative and varied lineup that offers something for everyone.

Please let us know which Festival films you liked and why, and tell us what kinds of films you would you like to see next year.

38 comments:

dadaveed said...

Are you showing shorts and animation?
Here is a link
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_IiYlsqKOM&feature=emaild

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