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Three more from the The San Diego Jewish Film Festival

Ronnie’s, Kiss Me Kosher, Persian Lessons

Ronnie's: Jazz club architects Pete King and Ronnie Scott.
Ronnie's: Jazz club architects Pete King and Ronnie Scott.
Past Event

San Diego International Jewish Film Festival

The San Diego Jewish Film Festival continues through February 20. For screening information, visit the Festival website:

Ronnie’s (2020)

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Ronnie Scott was a British saxophonist who, in 1959, at the height of his popularity, chose to open a jazz club rather than make the rounds of various performance venues. A natural showman, Scott nevertheless lacked the entrepreneurial savvy needed to make a go of it alone. That’s where business partner (and fellow saxophonist) Pete King came in. Located on London’s seedy East End, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is still drawing crowds almost 30 years since the passing of its originator. As a musician, Scott held his own with the noble likes of Ben Webster; he damn near cried with joy when the master saxist played the club. Fortunately for us, someone had the insight to roll tape: Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughn, Buddy Rich, and Dizzy Gillispie are but a few of the giants of jazz on hand to perform. If your feet aren’t tapping before Oscar Peterson’s opening credits performance comes to an end, you’re dead. Outside of the club, Ronnie didn’t have a social life. Friends speculate that Scott never spoke of his frequent bouts of depression due to his macho upbringing. He was also one of the earliest casualties of botched dental implant surgery, one that forever hampered his ability to play. Written and directed by Oliver Murray. Screens: February 10 at 4:30 pm.

Kiss Me Kosher (2020)

After a string of romantic misfires, Shira (Moran Rosenblatt, she of the deep, pebbly throat) is so certain that Maria (Luise Wolfram) is the end all to unhappiness that, after a whirlwind 3 month courtship, she asks for her hand in marriage. As if tackling a story of queer love, Tel Aviv style, isn’t enough, writer-director Shirel Peleg brings the Holocaust to the wedding shower. Shira is a Jew, but Maria isn’t just another gentile: she has German blood in her, something that doesn’t sit well with Shira’s grandmother Rivka (Berta Posnansky) — “The Real Jewish Princess,” as a neon sign in her home proclaims. It’s not an issue of sexual preference — Grandma doesn’t mind that Shira is a lesbian, just so long as she doesn’t look like a truck driver. The outspoken Rivka is also a concentration camp survivor who doesn’t cotton to her granddaughter cohabitating with “the spawn of Adolf and Eva.” Placing social issues (and American rom-com tropes) ahead of romance has a way of impregnating Peleg’s good intentions with predictability. Fortunately, she’s blessed with a cast expert at navigating the film’s rougher patches. John Carroll Lynch is so delightful as Rivka’s American dad that it’s not worth mentioning that he’s about as Jewish as Miracle Whip®. Screens: February 18 at 1:30 pm and Feb 20 at 4:30 pm.

Persian Lessons (2019)

At the outset of the war, before word of Hitler’s genocide had spread, Hollywood cast Nazis as dumbkopfs, vincible comic relief marching in goosestep. In the spirit of Nazis past comes Commandant Klaus Koch (Lars Eidinger), an egomaniacal martinet whose dream is to move to Tehran after the American victory over his homeland, there to open a German restaurant. But before that’s possible, he must first learn to speak the language. In the days before Babbel, the best way to pick up a foreign tongue was through personal instruction. That’s where Gilles (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) comes in. Spared from the gestapo’s bullet, it’s up to Gilles, a Belgian Jew by birth, to pass for Persian in order to survive. Once inside the camps, he further bamboozles Herr Commandant into believing it’s Farsi, not honest-to-goodness Persian babble that he’s learning. Gilles’ sudden teacher’s-pet status causes an overzealous gestapo to spark a rumor that the Persian is likely Koch’s boy toy. Director Vadim Perelman delivers less a Holocaust film and more a primer on how one outlives a time of mass genocide. Gallows humor echoes throughout, placing it in league with Agnieszka Holland’s similar survival quandary, Europa, Europa. And did I mention that it’s based on a true story? Screens: February 16th, 7:30 pm.

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Ronnie's: Jazz club architects Pete King and Ronnie Scott.
Ronnie's: Jazz club architects Pete King and Ronnie Scott.
Past Event

San Diego International Jewish Film Festival

The San Diego Jewish Film Festival continues through February 20. For screening information, visit the Festival website:

Ronnie’s (2020)

Sponsored
Sponsored

Ronnie Scott was a British saxophonist who, in 1959, at the height of his popularity, chose to open a jazz club rather than make the rounds of various performance venues. A natural showman, Scott nevertheless lacked the entrepreneurial savvy needed to make a go of it alone. That’s where business partner (and fellow saxophonist) Pete King came in. Located on London’s seedy East End, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is still drawing crowds almost 30 years since the passing of its originator. As a musician, Scott held his own with the noble likes of Ben Webster; he damn near cried with joy when the master saxist played the club. Fortunately for us, someone had the insight to roll tape: Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughn, Buddy Rich, and Dizzy Gillispie are but a few of the giants of jazz on hand to perform. If your feet aren’t tapping before Oscar Peterson’s opening credits performance comes to an end, you’re dead. Outside of the club, Ronnie didn’t have a social life. Friends speculate that Scott never spoke of his frequent bouts of depression due to his macho upbringing. He was also one of the earliest casualties of botched dental implant surgery, one that forever hampered his ability to play. Written and directed by Oliver Murray. Screens: February 10 at 4:30 pm.

Kiss Me Kosher (2020)

After a string of romantic misfires, Shira (Moran Rosenblatt, she of the deep, pebbly throat) is so certain that Maria (Luise Wolfram) is the end all to unhappiness that, after a whirlwind 3 month courtship, she asks for her hand in marriage. As if tackling a story of queer love, Tel Aviv style, isn’t enough, writer-director Shirel Peleg brings the Holocaust to the wedding shower. Shira is a Jew, but Maria isn’t just another gentile: she has German blood in her, something that doesn’t sit well with Shira’s grandmother Rivka (Berta Posnansky) — “The Real Jewish Princess,” as a neon sign in her home proclaims. It’s not an issue of sexual preference — Grandma doesn’t mind that Shira is a lesbian, just so long as she doesn’t look like a truck driver. The outspoken Rivka is also a concentration camp survivor who doesn’t cotton to her granddaughter cohabitating with “the spawn of Adolf and Eva.” Placing social issues (and American rom-com tropes) ahead of romance has a way of impregnating Peleg’s good intentions with predictability. Fortunately, she’s blessed with a cast expert at navigating the film’s rougher patches. John Carroll Lynch is so delightful as Rivka’s American dad that it’s not worth mentioning that he’s about as Jewish as Miracle Whip®. Screens: February 18 at 1:30 pm and Feb 20 at 4:30 pm.

Persian Lessons (2019)

At the outset of the war, before word of Hitler’s genocide had spread, Hollywood cast Nazis as dumbkopfs, vincible comic relief marching in goosestep. In the spirit of Nazis past comes Commandant Klaus Koch (Lars Eidinger), an egomaniacal martinet whose dream is to move to Tehran after the American victory over his homeland, there to open a German restaurant. But before that’s possible, he must first learn to speak the language. In the days before Babbel, the best way to pick up a foreign tongue was through personal instruction. That’s where Gilles (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) comes in. Spared from the gestapo’s bullet, it’s up to Gilles, a Belgian Jew by birth, to pass for Persian in order to survive. Once inside the camps, he further bamboozles Herr Commandant into believing it’s Farsi, not honest-to-goodness Persian babble that he’s learning. Gilles’ sudden teacher’s-pet status causes an overzealous gestapo to spark a rumor that the Persian is likely Koch’s boy toy. Director Vadim Perelman delivers less a Holocaust film and more a primer on how one outlives a time of mass genocide. Gallows humor echoes throughout, placing it in league with Agnieszka Holland’s similar survival quandary, Europa, Europa. And did I mention that it’s based on a true story? Screens: February 16th, 7:30 pm.

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