San Francisco, CA – March 3, 2016 – The Jewish Film Institute wrapped its record-breaking third annual WinterFest at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at the New Mission Theater, with two sold out shows, two Bay Area premieres, a live musical performance, and a one-day combined audience of 1,200.
WinterFest is an annual daylong festival showcasing new, innovative, and captivating Jewish film for Bay Area audiences and has emerged as a key year-round event of the Jewish Film Institute, presenters of the world-renowned San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. The 2016 edition was the first to take place at the newly renovated Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at the New Mission Theater.
WinterFest drew together a large one-day audience to celebrate Jewish independent film and media arts, continuing the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s tradition of diverse, innovative, and socially relevant programming. WinterFest 2016 saw a 120% increase in Festival Passes sold, and a record increase in ticket sales and attendance over the year before.
“The Jewish Film Institute is thrilled to expand its offerings to meet the needs of the Bay Area film community in between editions of our signature summer Festival, as well as contributing to the cultural renaissance currently taking place in San Francisco’s Mission District” said Lexi Leban, JFI Executive Director. “WinterFest 2016 reiterated JFI’s commitment to its core audience to curate and present innovative programming and events year-round.”
The Festival opened in the morning with a screening of the Israeli documentary Oriented, in partnership with the New Israel Fund’s New Generations Program as part of their #MyLoveIsLegal campaign for marriage equality in Israel. The screening was JFI’s targeted Next Wave event of WinterFest, meant to attract younger audiences to social justice film programs. The film was followed by a post-film discussion over brunch at a nearby eatery.
Potsdam Revisited: Overture to the Cold War anchored the sold-out afternoon and evening slate. A film, performance, and multimedia project of Citizen Film, the Hoover Institution, and the Stanford Music Department,Potsdam Revisited presented The Rifleman’s Violin, a short documentary on the career of Stuart Canin, a celebrated violinist and WWII veteran who played for Truman, Churchill and Stalin at the 1945 Potsdam Conference.
Mr. Canin was in attendance at WinterFest and reprised the concert he gave the Big Three 71 years ago. Following the concert, Canin and Leban joined director Sam Ball and Stanford historian Scott Sagan for a panel discussion and Q&A session on the historical relevancies of the Potsdam Conference. JFI will make a recording of Canin’s performance available on its YouTube channel in the coming weeks.
“Now in its third year, WinterFest has exploded in popularity and we were very proud of 2016’s diverse program, including a moving live violin performance by the Bay Area’s own Stuart Canin,” said Jay Rosenblatt, JFI Program Director. “Potsdam Revisited was an opportunity for JFI to mix live performance with film, resulting in a transcendent theater experience.”
The Bay Area premiere of Natalie Portman’s directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness delighted the sold out audience with its polished cinematic style and compelling autobiographical story. The film, based on the memoirs of famed Israeli author Amos Oz, premiered at the 2015 Cannes International Film Festival. Portman, directed, wrote, and starred in the film.
WinterFest closed with the Bay Area premiere of Demon, a Polish genre film that has garnered acclaim at its presentations at Toronto International Film Festival and Fantastic Fest. A natural fit with the Alamo Drafthouse audience, Demon had moviegoers shrieking in delighted terror.