Turning 18 this weekend, the Seattle Jewish Film Festival kicks off with “The Day I Saw Your Heart,” a romantic comedy starring Melanie Laurent (the heroine of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”) as the daughter of a 60-year-old man who is due to become a father again.
The opening-night film, it plays at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Pacific Place — preceded by a happy hour at 6:30 p.m. in the Pacific Place lobby.
Between Saturday night and March 10, the festival will screen a couple dozen films, including a long-overdue documentary, “Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy,” that demonstrates the longevity of the careers of Barbra Streisand, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein and other Jewish showbiz successes.
Closing night, at the Uptown, will include a panel discussion, “What is Jewish Art?,” as well as a free screening of local filmmaker Michael Benaroya’s 2012 drama,“The Words,” starring Bradley Cooper as a writer who knows he’s a fraud. (Benaroya, who also co-produced the riveting “Margin Call,” will receive the festival’s Reel Difference Award.)
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The theme of the 2013 festival is “Not a Lawyer, Not a Doctor? Jews in the Arts” — celebrated with such titles as “My Dad is Baryshnikov,” ‘’Orchestra of Exiles,” “Joann Draws from Memory” and “The Art of Spiegelman.”
The festival’s director, Pam Lavitt, regards this collection as recognition of “the wellspring and bounty of Jewish creativity’’ that calls attention to “the prolific work of inspired outliers and pathfinders.”
Longtime festivalgoers will notice a few changes. Opening night is no longer at the Cinerama, and there are no Oscar-nominated Israeli films.
Back for another year is the popular Matzoh Momma Sunday Brunch, at 11 a.m. Sunday at Pacific Place. This time it includes a screening of “Hava Nagila (The Movie),” a 75-minute documentary about the much-recorded Hebrew folk song.
John Hartl: firstname.lastname@example.org