Founded in 1980, The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF) presents screenings throughout the year at a variety of Bay Area venues including museums, senior centers and community art spaces. The Festival is most well known for the 65-70 films from around the world that it presents over two weeks each summer in major movie theaters in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley and San Rafael. Thirty-thousand patrons attend the festival, approximately 25% of them self-identifying as non-Jewish. SFJFF is the oldest and largest (by attendance) Jewish film festival in the world but under the canny direction of Peter Stein it has made programmatic decisions that have kept it fresh. In 2009, for example, the festival presented a documentary about the Israeli occupation of the Gaza strip that was so controversial it generated hundreds of angry letters from patrons, threats to withdraw funding from major institutional supporters, and at the same time compelled many community partners and fans to voice their support for the director’s decision to present artwork that provokes, that unsettles and that embraces the tension that comes along with mature discussions of religion, politics and artistic expression – especially in the Bay area’s Jewish community. The SFJFF has grown its budget 20% to $1.7 million in the past three years principally by generating major foundation support for its new media initiative which provides information and links to videos of the 1200 films the festival has shown. This, combined with development of young filmmaker programs and leadership of the Ninth Street Media Consortium (also a Hewlett grantee) place the nearly 30 year old organization on firm footing to continue to present exceptional works of film and media art to Bay Area audiences with renewed general operating support.
About the Grantee
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