Mazel Tov! San Diego International Jewish Film Festival celebrates 30th anniversary


Ava Moslehi

Suzanne Seed (left) and Jennifer Hou Kwong answer audience questions about their film.

Ava Moslehi, Staff Writer

Thursday, February 13th marked the 30th anniversary of the annual San Diego International Jewish Film Festival. The festival, lasting about a week and a half, consists of five different venues. The venues include Clairemont Reading Cinemas, La Paloma Theater, the Museum of Photographic Arts, David and Dorothea Garfield Theatre, and White Labs.

The San Diego International Jewish Film Festival offers an array of 35 select films from 13 countries. While it is commonly believed that most films shown during the festival focus on the Holocaust, this is not the case. The line up showcased short films, feature-length films, and documentaries ranging from narratives to comedies. Each film holds a Jewish theme, whether the film is made by a Jewish director or is about a Jewish person and their life and culture. While specific screenings show only the movie, others contain guest speakers who have helped create the films, such as directors, producers, and even people in the films. Question and answer segments were also held after several showings.

One popular film featured at the festival is a documentary called “Art Paul of Playboy: The Man Behind the Bunny.” This film follows Arthur Paul, a Jewish artist and art director for Playboy magazine, and the impact he had on art and graphic design around the world. Arthur Paul, who goes by Art, was born in Chicago, Ill. after his family fled from Romania. The documentary focuses on Paul’s life growing up, how he became the art director for Playboy magazine, and how he managed to positively impact hundreds of artists and give them a sense of freedom in their work. 

According to Suzanne Seed,  Paul’s wife, “He was unassuming and really just dedicated too. When he wasn’t art directing, he was doing his own drawings.” This documentary manages to capture the raw talent and modesty of Paul. The film’s last premiere day is Wednesday, Feb. 19th, but if you missed it, don’t worry. According to Jennifer Hou Kwong, the director, the film will soon be released on Amazon Prime. 

Not only does the San Diego Jewish Film Festival shine a light on independent films and filmmakers, but it brings awareness to the Jewish community. It is a great source for bringing people together and learning about the backgrounds of Jewish people. The San Diego International Jewish Film festival ends on Sunday, Feb 23, so make sure to go check it out for yourself.