Greg Laemmle 

The only Jewish film festival in Monterey County celebrates its ninth annual event with eight award-winning films from six countries, noted speakers, panel discussions and receptions, from March 2-17, 2019.

Carmel Jewish Film Festival

The Carmel Jewish Film Festival (CJFF), sponsored by Congregation Beth Israel, serves to reach all residents in an effort to promote understanding, respect, and cooperation through education using the medium of film. While informed by a uniquely Jewish sensibility, the films communicate themes and messages with universal appeal to a wide audience drawn from the Monterey Peninsula and beyond.

The festival’s accompanying programs further engage mind and heart through discussions and social interactions. Organizers hope that the Festival will help bridge cultural and religious differences and contribute to community solidarity and peace.

"The Carmel Jewish Film Festival has become a significant event in the community. Our films are from all over the world and convey universal themes that are relatable to both Jews and non-Jews,” says Susan Greenbaum co-chair of the festival. “Through the medium of film, our filmgoers gather to learn, discuss, socialize, and build bridges on issues of our day. Our food and wine receptions and appearances from filmmakers, panelists, and entertainers enhance the festival experience. We are a small festival, but we focus on quality. It has been rewarding to see our attendance and support grow each year.”

Festival highlights include:

  • Opening Night (March 2): “Carl Laemmle”, a documentary about the man who began the Hollywood film studio industry, followed by a Q &A with Greg Laemmle, President of Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles.  
  • The return to the festival of two notable film makers: Roberta Grossman and Dani Menkin.
    • Grossman (“Hava Nagila: The Movie, Above & Beyond”) will discuss her award-winning documentary “Who Will Write Our History” on Sunday afternoon, March 3. The film transports its viewers inside the Warsaw Ghetto, where a group of journalists, scholars, and community leaders secretly buried documents that are later discovered after WWII. She also will serve as Scholar-in-Residence at Congregation Beth Israel on Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2.
    • Dani Menkin (“Dolphin Boy, On the Map”) returns with his film “Picture of His Life”, a documentary about renowned underwater wildlife photographer and Pacific Grove resident Amos Nachoum. Both Menkin and Nachoum will participate in a Q & A following the film on Saturday evening, March 9.
  • The CJFF will partner with the Center for Spiritual Awakening, Pacific Grove, on March 6 to present “Itzhak,” the Grammy Award-nominated (Best Music Film) documentary that explores the life of renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman.
  • Partnering with The Village Project, Inc., Seaside, on Sunday, March 10, the CJFF will screen the Dutch film, “An Act of Defiance,” a nail-biting political thriller that explores the dark period in South Africa’s recent history, when 10 political activists, including Nelson Mandela, face a possible death sentence after being arrested by the apartheid government.  
  • The CJFF’s Second Annual Night of Shorts will feature five short films on Tuesday, March 12. Israeli film director Keren Hantman will discuss her film, “Masks On,” about Israeli families living under the threat of biological warfare.
  • A reception with Indian food and dancing precedes “Shalom Bollywood,” a film about the role of Jewish women in the early Bollywood industry, on Closing Night, March 17.

New features for this year’s festival include:

  • Scholar-in-Residence program
  • New screen at Congregation Beth Israel
  • New event partners: Center for Spiritual Awakening; Center for the Blue Economy at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey; and The Village Project, Inc.
  • New venue in Pacific Grove at the Center for Spiritual Awakening
  • Many exciting new programs and panels with filmmakers, film subjects, local scholars, politicians, and clergy
  • Partnership with Monterey Unified School District to make a film available to students

Festival screenings and events are held in a variety of locations, including the “home” location, Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel; Carmel High School Center for the Performing Arts; Center for Spiritual Awakening, Pacific Grove; and Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. 

Film information, dates, venues and times can be found on the CJFF website. Tickets are available either through the website or by calling (800) 838-3006.