Carmel Jewish Film Festival Events 2022
Tickets for all 29 films go on sale March 1. To purchase tickets, select the Buy Tickets button


*Reception 6:30 pm/ Film 7:30 pm

The Automat

USA, 2021, 92 min. English


While it’s been decades since the restaurant chain Horn & Hardart was open to hungry customers, it’s still remembered as a great place to eat—affordable meals accompanied by speedy food service at communal tables. In this must-see documentary, the phenomena’s automated dining experience is recounted by a host of celebrities who add their often humorous and always insightful commentary to this documentary, including Mel Brooks (who sings a tribute to the restaurant), Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Elliot Gould. In The Automat, we watch a business climb to its peak success and then grapple with fast food in a forever changed America.



*Reception 6:30 pm/ Film 7:30 pm

Persian Lessons

Russia/Germany/Belarus, 2020, 128 minutes, German/subtitles


Crafted with powerful acting and a wry sense of humor, Persian Lessons tells the story of Gilles who agrees to teach a language he does not know—Farsi—to Klaus Koch. The Nazi camp commandant is planning on a post-war move to Iran and mistakenly believes that Gilles is Persian. Although the young Belgian Jew teaches the officer nearly 600 words, he fears that his invented “Farsi” will be revealed for what it is…gibberish.

*It is our hope to have an Opening and Closing Night reception with an in-person film in the CBI Social Hall for Sponsors only. If a sponsor does not feel comfortable attending an in-person event, they will also be given the film link. If receptions are not possible in March, we will hold a reception at a later time when it is safe to do so. All in-person participation will require proof of full vaccination.

The Carmel Jewish Film Festival is a non-profit 501(c)(3). Sponsor benefits are deductible over and above the value of goods or services received. For assistance, questions or concerns, please call 831-624-2015.

Additional Films


The Fourth Window

Israel, 2021, 86 min., Hebrew/subtitles

Behind the international success of Amos Oz, whose novels have been translated into 45 languages, lurks a double tragedy. When he was 12, his mother committed suicide; before his own death, his daughter accused him of being physically and mentally violent.  A series of conversations with the major people in his life provide us with Amos Oz’s last story.  Guest speakers. Co-sponsor: New Lehrhaus.


Powder Keg: The Day We Died

Denmark, 2020, 106 min., Danish/subtitles

After the shocking terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo by Al-Qaeda, Omar, a radicalized criminal, perpetrates a night of terror in Copenhagen. This gripping thriller intersects the lives of four strangers--a Danish filmmaker, a Jewish security man, the perpetrator, and a worn-out SWAT officer (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who leads a manhunt to capture the terrorist.  Based on the February 2015 attacks that rocked Denmark. Underwriter: Buttercup Diner.




Israel, 2019, 75 min., Hebrew/subtitles

Produced by Golden Globe nominee Shlomi Elkabetz (Gett), this beguiling documentary poses fascinating questions about art and family. Boris Schatz’s main legacies were two of Israel’s most important institutions — The Israel Museum and The Bezalel Art Academy. Today, however, few remember the kidnapping of his daughter, Angelica. The discovery of letters along with paintings in an attic leads the film’s director, Angelica’s great-grandson, to investigate the aftermath of the kidnapping.  Guest Speaker: SFSU Professor Eran Kaplan.


Love & Mazel Tov

Germany, 2020, 90 min., German/English/subtitles

When Daniel meets Anne, a non-Jewish bookstore owner, he pretends to be Jewish to impress her, as she loves everything connected to the Jewish people. His initial small con turns into an unmanageable web of white lies that Daniel can't get out of. Will Anne still love him when she learns his true identity? This feature film is a warm-hearted and witty love story.




Israel, 2021, 110 min., Russian/Ukrainian/Polish/German/subtitles

Few of Leonid Berenshtein’s neighbors imagine that the elderly man who lives in an old, modest house is the last living commander of a courageous WWII partisan battalion. This striking drama recreates the mission during which he and other partisans discover the secret facility where the Nazis developed their last hope for victory over the Allies…the V2 missile. This docudrama is based on a true story. Guest Speaker: Historian Fred Rosenbaum.  Underwritten by Elaine Gerstler & Booker Holton. 


200 Meters

Palestinian terr./Jordan/Qatar/Sweden/Italy, 2021, xxx min., Arabic/Hebrew/English/subtitles

Mustafa, played by the Israeli actor Ali Suliman (The Syrian Bride), and his wife Salwa come from two Arab villages that are only 200 meters apart but separated by a barrier built to thwart suicide bombers. The couple does what they can to make this unusual situation work, with Mustafa flashing light from his balcony every night and their signaling him back. One day Mustafa gets a call that every parent dreads--his son has been in an accident. With his work permit temporarily invalid for re-entry into Israel, he must find another way to reach his family. Guest Speaker: Akiva Naiman, West Coast NCSY Director.   Underwritten by Marty Aufhauser in memory of Judy Aufhauser, Z”L.



Dead Sea Guardians

Israel, 2022, 76 min., Hebrew/Arabic/subtitles

Located at the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea is a unique salt lake, known for its exceptional geographical and biological value. Due to poor water management, it is drying up, causing widespread damage, including huge sinkholes, abandoned beaches, and collapsing roads.  To draw the world’s attention to the Sea’s plight, a Jordanian, an Israeli, and a Palestinian swim across it in a heroic, unprecedented, and extremely dangerous act.  Guest Speakers: Researchers from Ben-Gurion University’s Jacob Blaustein Institute of Desert Research.  Co-sponsor: Americans for GBU.


The Man in the Basement

France, 2021, 104 min., French

After a Jewish, Parisian family sells the basement in their apartment complex, their lives are turned upside down after discovering the buyer’s true identity.  Should the mantra of “free speech” be an excuse for conspiracy theories when antisemitism is just around the corner? 

A fast-paced, tense thriller about a very contemporary subject.  Underwritten by Martha Ann & Sandy Wishnev.



The Levys of Monticello

USA, 2021, English

When Thomas Jefferson died in 1826, he left behind a mountain of personal debt, forcing his heirs to sell his beloved Monticello home. This documentary reveals how the Levy family-owned and carefully preserved Monticello for nearly a century. It’s a story that intersects with the rise of antisemitism in America.  Underwritten by Cherie & Marc Hallert and Phyllis Hallert in memory of Steven Hallert, Z”L.



France, 2021, 102 min., French

At 78, Rose’s life and that of her adult children are turned upside down after the demise of her husband.  This dramedy, graced by wonderful dollops of Yiddishkeit and Sephardic culture, follows Rose as she negotiates her new status in life and embraces the future…even perhaps with a new love. Underwritten by Sinai Memorial Chapel.



One More Story

Israel, 2021, 90 min., Hebrew

Starring Lior Ashkenazi and comedian Guri Alfi, this delightful romantic comedy follows Jordan Gat, a cynical young journalist, who writes an expose about a man going on 30 blind dates for a month in order to find his true love.  Jordan is also seeking romance after ending her relationship with her smug, married editor (Ashkenazi) and agreeing to a date with a statistician (Alfi).


The Collini Case

Germany, 2019, 123 min., German/subtitles

Hoping to launch his career, a young, Turkish-German defense attorney takes on the mysterious case of a prominent industrialist who's accused of a grisly murder. He soon stumbles upon a vast conspiracy. Franco Nero stars in this tense courtroom drama.  Underwritten by Lili & David Naveh and Heidi & Norimi Yamaguchi.



Image of Victory

Israel, 2021, 128 min., Hebrew/Arabic/subtitles

Based on true events during the 1948 War of Independence, two cultures have their values tested as an Egyptian filmmaker is tasked with documenting a raid on the isolated seaside kibbutz, Nitzanim.  There, the mostly young farmers must rely on the few soldiers sent to protect them. As the situation escalates, both sides must re-evaluate everything they know about life and face the true cost of war.  This emotionally powerful drama by award-winning director Avi Nesher (The Matchmaker, The Other Story) has been hailed as his masterpiece.  Guest Speaker: Israeli Deputy Consul General Matan Zamir.  Underwritten by the Consulate General of Israel.


Paul Newman, Behind Blue Eyes

France, 2021, 52 min., French/English/subtitles

Paul Newman captivated audiences around the world as an actor (Cool Hand Luke, The Sting, Exodus, The Verdict) and as a director, while doing everything he could to change the perception of him as a sex object. This fascinating biopic reveals his rich artistic vision as well as the noted philanthropist and social activist hiding behind his blue eyes. Underwritten by Bette & Stewart Schuster.


#StandUp Films

Wet Dog (Ein Nasser Hund)

Germany, 2020, 103 min., German/Turkish/Arabic/Hebrew

In the largely Muslim neighborhood of Wedding-Berlin, tensions run high because of rival gangs and strong ethnic affiliations. Soheil, a 16-year-old Iranian whose family has recently moved to the town, befriends the Turkish and Arab youth in the “Husseyn” gang and experiences first love with a Turkish girl. What he doesn’t tell his friends: he’s not a Muslim; he’s Jewish.



Switzerland/France, 2021, 124 min., Kurdish/subtitles

Early 1980s in a Syrian border village:  A new teacher arrives whose goal is to turn his Kurdish students into supporters of Syrian President Assad and anti-Israel fighters.  Sero, a young student, is confused because his long-time neighbors are a lovable Jewish family. With a fine sense of humor, the film depicts a childhood that manages to find light moments between dictatorship and dark drama. This powerful film was inspired by Director Mano Khalil’s personal experiences. Guest Speaker: SFSU Professor Eran Kaplan.




Israel, 2021, 54 min., Hebrew/English/subtitles

This engrossing documentary provides an intimate portrait of award-winning Israeli author David Grossman, and exposes the delicate and complex connection between his novels and his personal life. “As the camera captures Grossman’s raw honesty, you will be brought into close contact with an exceptional writer and human being..”—Riva Gambert.  Guest Speaker: Dr. Vered Weiss, Israel Fellow, Sonoma State University. Co-sponsor: Cong. B’nai TIkvah. Underwritten by Susan & Ira Ross.


More than I Deserve

Israel, 2021, 82 min., Hebrew/Russian/Hebrew/subtitles

With his single mother Tamara working at night and sleeping during the day, 12-year-old Pinhas has already assumed the responsibilities of an adult.  Now, he wants to study for his Bar Mitzvah and turns to his religious neighbor, Shimon Amazaleg, for tutoring. The two form a strong father-son bond, and soon Tamara falls in love with the unmarried orthodox man.  But things get complicated when Shimon’s rabbi pressures him to marry a woman from their own community. Underwritten by Rayna & Richard Ravitz.



The Pianist from Ramallah

Israel, 2020, 60 min., Arabic, Russian, English/subtitles

This inspiring documentary focuses on four years in the life of Muhammad "Misha" Alsheikh, a talented teenage pianist from Ramallah, who is the son of a Palestinian father and a mother who came from Russia. It takes Muhammad three hours to get from his house to a piano lesson with his Jewish-Israeli teacher in Jerusalem. Despite his father's will that he will become a doctor, Misha tries to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional pianist--and also stay happy.  Guest Speaker: Akiva Naiman, West Coast NCSY Director.  Underwritten by Jo Alice Canterbury.


Plan A

Germany/Israel, 2021, 106 min., English

Set in Germany in 1945, this thriller’s central character is Max (August Diehl from Inglorious Basterds) who, along with other Jewish survivors, develops a plan to take revenge against the Nazis.  Their goal is to poison the water system in Germany. Based on real-life conspirators, the filmmakers dare to pose the question:  “What is your interpretation of revenge—killing back or celebrating life and building something new?” Co-sponsor: Diablo Valley Hadassah.  Underwritten by Riva Gambert & Sam Pitluck, Ph.D.


Into the Darkness

Denmark, 2020, 152 min., English

Family relationships reflect the dilemmas of the Danish people after their country is occupied during WWII. The successful owner of a big electronics factory tries to make the best of the situation in order to keep his workers employed. However, this leads him into a problematic collaboration with the Nazis. In contrast, his son reacts against the increasing oppression and persecution of Jews and communists by joining the rising resistance movement.  Guest Speaker: Historian Fred Rosenbaum.  Underwritten by Supporters of IJWC Year-Round Programming and Jo-Ann & Arnold Jacobson, M.D.


Greener Pastures

Israel, 2020, 90 minutes, Hebrew/subtitles

In this delightful comedy, we meet 75-year-old widower Dov, who is forced to move into an assisted living facility after he loses his pension. Realizing that some of his fellow residents receive state-sponsored medical cannabis, he comes up with a plan to recoup his financial losses:  take from the marijuana “rich,” and sell to the marijuana “poor.”  But when love, police, and the local crime boss enter the picture, Dov finds himself at a crossroads where he has to decide whether he would be willing to risk everything for what really matters to him.  In memory of Riva Wohl, Z”L.  Underwritten by Alice Breakstone & Debbie Goldberg.




SPECIAL FREE SCREENING FOR 8th Graders thru 12th Graders

Contact Contra Costa Midrasha to register.

The Raft

Israel, 2020, 90 min., Hebrew/subtitles

Three Israeli teens decide to build a raft and sail to the soccer championship final in Cyprus, where their country’s team has a rare chance to win the world cup. During their journey, their friendship will be put to the test as they get a taste of first love and discover traits and skills in themselves that they didn't know existed. Their innocent adventure evolves into a coming-of-age journey. Co-sponsors: Contra Costa Midrasha and JSU.



With No Land

Israel, 2021, 82 min., Amharic, Hebrew/English/subtitles

30 years ago, Operation Solomon brought 15,000 Jews from Ethiopia to Israel in under 24 hours.  Hailed as a military operation that few countries could have mastered, the contributions of Ethiopian Jewish activists have remained mostly unknown. Using firsthand testimonies and archival footage, this documentary reveals the clandestine and often dangerous activities of the Ethiopian Jews themselves.  Guest Speaker:  Yonatan Eyov, who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia at the age of six; is now an Israeli emissary (shaliach) at Stanford University.


Adventures of a Mathematician

UK, 2021, 102 min., English

The story of Polish immigrant and mathematician Stan Ulam, who moved to America in the 1930s. Stan deals with the difficult losses of family and friends all the while helping to create the hydrogen bomb and the first computer.  


The Good Traitor

Denmark, 2021, 110 min., Danish/subtitles

What should an ambassador do when his country has been taken over by an enemy power, which issues orders contrary to its citizens’ values?  After the April 9, 1940 invasion, the Danish government begins cooperating with the Third Reich.  But on the other side of the Atlantic, Denmark's ambassador to America, Henrik Kauffman, refuses to follow the Nazi directives and engineers a rebellious plan.  This gripping thriller deftly provides an important look into a little-known chapter of Danish - U.S. history.



#StandUp Films (Part II)


USA, 2020, 158 min., Hebrew/Russian/Yiddish/English/subtitles

In this LGBTQ+ and Jewish coming-of-age drama, David, the introverted 17-year-old gay son of a Russian Jewish family in Brighton Beach, moves in with his widowed grandfather Josef when the older man downsizes to a smaller apartment in subsidized housing.  It’s the 1980s, and gays are navigating the AIDS epidemic.  David is a novice in this new world and eventually is taken under the wing of Bruno, a local bartender.


Tiger Within

USA, 2020, 98 min., English

Starring award-winning actor Ed Asner in his last film, Tiger Within is a story about an unlikely friendship between a homeless, antisemitic teen and a Holocaust survivor. An inspirational and transformative tale that sparks larger questions about forgiveness, healing, and faith in humanity.  Underwritten by Destination Wealth Management and Margaret & Stuart Winter.