The Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year. The festival will be showing films at Harkins Theatres in Chandler, Scottsdale and Peoria. The festival runs from Feb. 12-26 with ticket prices ranging from $7 for students to $13 for adults (at the door).
The Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival resulted from a merger of the Phoenix Jewish Film Festival and the East Valley Jewish Film Festival. The PJFF was founded by Phyllis and Sheldon Pierson who, in 1996 decided that Phoenix needed a Jewish film festival; in 2004, the EVJFF was born from an idea of Gloria and the late Sid Israel. The two festivals merged five years later, and the GPJFF was created.
GPJFF is a wholly independent, volunteer-run 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Sources of funding are ticket sales, donations, advertising and grants. 6,400 people attended the festival in 2016, and attendance is expected to increase for this year. Many out-of-towners who spend time in Phoenix during the winter regularly attend and generously support the festival.
Film screening committees begin the hard yet rewarding work of selecting films as soon as the current festival ends. The GPJFF strives to bring to the big screen a variety of films with Jewish themes, produced in different countries, and to offering genres that include drama, comedy, documentary and Holocaust. Some of the anticipated films for this year include: “On the Map,” “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” Indignation” and “Rosenwald.”
Guest speakers present commentary following many of the films and provide question and answer sessions to engage audience members. Speakers are filmmakers, rabbis, historians, other professionals and film critics (both Jewish and non-Jewish) selected for the contributions they make to enrich the experience for festival attendees.
A film specifically geared to students is offered free of charge one Sunday morning during the festival. The GPJFF also provides a no-cost “Films in the Schools” program to religious and secular middle and high schools, where Holocaust-related films are shown and post-film discussions held to teach the important lesson of tolerance.
For more information on tickets, ticket packages or group discounts, call 602-753-9366 or visit gpjff.org.