The 25th annual Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival (Oct. 27-Nov. 20) brings a unique touch to spreading awareness of Jewish culture. Six of their films have Q&A sessions with the directors and cast members after their showings. These sessions aim to expand Silicon Valley’s knowledge about Jewish films through real voices, anecdotes, and humor.
This year, many of SVJFF’s films use humor as the gateway to more serious topics. The films get the best of both worlds; they are comedic but often have an underlying current issue. Check out our shortlist of the 2016 must-see funny SVJFF films.
CELEBRATION: THE STORY OF ISRAELI CINEMA
Everyone loves a good coming-of-age story and Celebration is non-traditionally that. This documentary shows how Israeli cinema was born. It connects the Jewish community through cinematic history and reaches a non-Jewish audience with humor and archival footage. Celebration hopes to change how the history of Israeli cinema is seen by exploring key figures and their biggest films. Following the film, the audience will have the chance to meet producers Mike Burstyn and Arik Bernstein. // Showing: OFJCC, Palo Alto, Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m. Buy tickets.
We all know the classic story line: good girl leads humdrum life, finds bad boy who challenges her to give up everything for him. Well, the tables have officially turned in Roee Florentin’s new comedy. A good boy that plays it safe realizes he is bored with his routine job and family. He befriends a young, wild woman who shows him what a life full of passion is like. But is that passion enough to make him leave his wife and son behind? Or is his time with her just a getaway dream from reality? Funny and inspiring, Mr. Predictable offers a refreshing take on a classic comedy. // Running time: 103 minutes. Showing: OFJCC, Palo Alto, Nov.19, 9 p.m. Buy tickets.
What’s the point of controversial political topics? To make jokes, of course (just look at the current election and SNL). Atomic Falafel’s hilarious script shows the humorous side of nuclear destruction and underneath runs the issue between Iran and Israel that resonates with today’s political climate. This fast-paced satire emphasizes peace and encompasses current topics including technology, love, and the friendships between people of warring countries. Amid the world’s troubles, it’s nice to sometimes look back and laugh at ourselves. // Running time: 93 minutes. Showing: AMC Saratoga 14, San Jose, Nov.6, 8:30 p.m. Buy tickets.
THE PICKLE RECIPE
Food is a grandmother’s bread and butter, so what happens when someone tries to steal their recipes? Hell breaks loose. That’s what happens to poor Joey Miller, a single father trying to get money so he can MC for his daughter’s Bat-Mitzvah. He is corrupted by his shady uncle, played by Academy Award nominee David Paymer, to steal his grandmother’s prized dill pickle recipe. His grandmother’s ferocity coupled with Miller’s incompetence gives viewers a montage of priceless moments screaming to be made into memes. // Running time: 98 minutes. Showing: AMC Saratoga 14, San Jose, Oct. 30, 3 p.m. Rush line only (tickets at door).
2 KUNI LEMEL: THE FLYING MATCHMAKER
Starring Broadway legend Mike Burstyn, this musical comedy will guarantee tears of laughter. Burstyn has performed on Broadway, the Yiddish theater and the Israeli stage. In 1990 and 2005, he was nominated for the Drama Desk Awards for his performances in The Rothschilds off-Broadway and On Second Avenue. But this is new territory. Burstyn plays two roles — identical men vying for the same woman’s hand in marriage. That’s a recipe for hilarious disaster. The musical celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Yiddish play Di tsvey Kuni-lemels with a Q&A session with Burstyn. // Running time: 120 minutes. Showing: AMC Saratoga 14, San Jose, Oct. 29, 6:30 p.m. Buy tickets.
CLOSING NIGHT: THE LAST LAUGH
In a society that prioritizes free speech, there are more limitations than we realize. Director Ferne Pearlstein explores the comedic barriers as he tackles the Holocaust with comedic clips. Pearlstein uses interviews from Jewish leaders, Auschwitz survivor Renee Firestone, and footage from concentration camps to explore why certain things are prohibited. On the other hand, maybe such terrible tragedies can never be humorous. The Last Laugh captures every angle. Pearlstein and the subjects of the film, Renee and Klaire Firestone, will be available afterwards for a Q&A session. // Running time: 89 minutes. Showing: OFJCC, Palo Alto, Nov. 20, 5:30 p.m. Buy tickets.
The Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival runs Oct. 27- Nov. 20 with screenings in San Jose and Palo Alto. For more information, visit svjff.org/