Friday, July 30, 2010

Menemsha at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

This weekend, we were delighted to have two Menemsha Films represented in the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival: Saviors in the Night, the true story of Marga, a German holocaust survivor, as the opening night film, and Anita, the story a girl with Down syndrome who gets lost in Argentina after the Jewish center bombing, as the centerpiece. To our pleasure, both films were very well received, eliciting standing ovations at the end of each screening.

It’s hard to put into words the magic being at a cinema. I have seen these films many times, but to see them on the big screen was such an invaluable experience. This time, I was not just seeing the films with myself, but instead I was laughing and crying with a whole group of people who were enjoying that same magical experience. And beyond the magic of the theater, the Castro, San Francisco’s historic theater, was an especially pleasurable setting. The huge and gorgeous 1,400 seat architectural gem delivered no disappointment and only added to the excitement of the two screenings.

Our weekend started with the screening of “Saviors in the Night” on Saturday evening. That night we were joined by many important members of the cast and crew. Ludi Boeken, the writer and director of the film, and his lovely w ife; Lia Hoensbroech and Daniel Flieger, both stars in the film; and most importantly, 98 year old Marga Spiegel, the inspiration for the film. It was absolutely enthralling to see Marga there supported by all her beautiful friends and family. Before the screening, her daughter held a small dinner party for her which the Menemsha “crew” was happy to attend. Marga was amazing: friendly, engaging, and astoundingly quick with her feet… and her wit. After the screening, she bravely and energetically answered the questions of Jay Rosenblatt, the festival director, and a very eager audience. I think it is safe to say that anyone who met or came in any sort of contact with Marga was truly touched—I know I was. Overall, the film delivered a message of peace and hope for humanity. Ludi’s one request that night when introducing the film was that the film speak for itself, and in my opinion, the night did not fall short of his expectations.

"Saviors in the Night" Interview

Next on the list of screenings was “Anita”. Once again, we were thrilled to be joined by Alejandra Manzo, the star of the film, and Victoria Shocron, the director of an organization in Buenos Aires that works with people with disabilities. Although Marcos Carnevale, the director of the film, was unable to attend the festival, he sent a message to be read before the screening. He said that he wanted the film to deliver a message about the power of human compassion in a world troubled with hate and adversity. The film and the presence of Alejandra successfully delivered this message. Alejandra was so happy and truly grateful to be able to be part of the making of this film. She spoke about the film as a powerful tool in her adjustment to adulthood. Seeing her up there answering question and making jokes was not only inspiring and moving, but a powerful display of the fact that anyone can do anything if they put their minds to it.

"Anita" Interview

I was so happy to have been able to attend the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, and could not have imagined a better way to finish off my summer internship with Menemsha Films. Although each film was very different and evoked very different emotional experiences from the audience, the messages the films delivered were essentially the same. These films were not just for the Jewish people, or the disabled. They were a beacon of hope. Anyone can be oppressed, hated, or discriminated against. And though we all may come from different backgrounds and realities, in the end, love and compassion shows us that at the core, we are all the same.

The Menemsha Crew (minus Ryan)

For more information on these films, please visit our website at




  2. Thanks for the recommendation. I will like to go at least to one. It sounds petty fun and I would like to know more about their culture.