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Beyond Hollywood

[whitespace] Jewish Film Festival Beyond All Obstacles: The potential of love is boundless in 'The Dybbuk of the Holy Apple Field.'

Jewish Film Festival stretches from lesbianism to the studio system

By Richard von Busack

THIS YEAR'S San Francisco Jewish Film Festival ventures afield for screenings at the Park Theatre in Menlo Park (July 26-30). Among the highlights of a diverse program is Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies, and the American Dream (July 29 at 8:30pm). Based on Neil Gabler's book A World of Their Own, this documentary tells of how several moguls created the movie industry. Hollywoodism includes lots of behind-the-scenes footage of film history and interviews with critics Gabler, J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum. The documentary overstates its argument that American cinema is, essentially, Jewish. Certainly Jewish core values--humanism and love of family--made the studio system what it was. But does this case need to be demonstrated with clips from films by John Ford, Frank Capra and Francis Coppola? Yes, says Gabler, because Jewish studio heads had "primary input" into the films made at their studios. If so, the "primary input" included loads of racist stereotyping slighted by this documentary in favor of far rarer incidents of screen toleration.

Also of note are The Dybbuk of the Holy Apple Field (July 26 at 8pm), the most recent of many films based on S. Ansky's famous play about demonic possession and exorcism; Best Man (July 26 at 3:30pm), Ira Wohl's sequel to his noted 1977 documentary, Best Boy, about his mentally challenged cousin Philly; In Our Own Hands (July 28 at 6pm), which follows the true-life story of the Jewish brigades, refugees from Hitler who enlisted in the British army to fight the Nazis in Italy (many of the soldiers later became founding members of the Israeli army); Treyf (July 27 at 8:30pm), a personal documentary about a half-dozen lesbians who met at a Passover seder; and The Milky Way (July 30 at 6:30pm), Ali Nassar's slice-of-life drama about Arabic villagers seeking a better life.

The Jewish Film Festival screens July 26-30 at the Park Theatre in Menlo Park. (415/824-FEST)

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From the July 23-29, 1998 issue of Metro.

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