Film Festival Fever Downtown and in Ojai

There are plenty of highlights from this year’s Santa Barbara Jewish Film Festival, which returns for its first post-pandemic gathering at the New Vic Theater November 2-6, including Fixing the World: Stories from the Tree of Lifewhich will be screened at 5 p.m. on November 3. Documentary about the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the community’s response to hate and anti-Semitism will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker Patrice O’NeillVice President of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Center on Extremism Oren Segal, and Lorne M. FienbergImmigration lawyer and brother-in-law of Tree of Life victim Joyce Fienberg.

Similarly, the November 6 screening of The Lady of the Jewish prison and the holy thief, a documentary that retraces the careers of the rabbi Marc Borovitz and Harriet Rossetto from troubled pasts to the founding of Beit T’Shuvah, a world-renowned recovery and treatment center in Los Angeles, will be followed by a discussion with the subjects of the film. The 13 projections in total also include a projection of The Jews and the Blues November 5 capped off with a performance by the Jewish blues artist Saul Kayeand the quirky romantic comedy Love and Mazel Tov with the typical cute encounter and comedy of errors that improbably involves a kind young woman whose “crush on Judaism” extends to owning a Jewish literature bookstore trying to undo the “bad karma” of her family to make a lot of money from art and antiques bought cheaply from Jews fleeing Germany during World War II.

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Nov. 3-7 marks the in-person portion of the 23rd annual Ojai Film Festival — which is still SBIFF’s younger half-sister, but fills its five days with an abundance of ambition. There are 19 narrative features, 14 documentaries, and dozens of shorts in narrative, documentary, animation, and other categories screened during this period. Seminars on matte painting, comedy, using YouTube for exposure, cinematography, scriptwriting, diversity and more are also on the agenda, along with panels with the filmmaker Michael Milano for his two Emmy-nominated documentaries, 137 Blows and Burning Ojai: Our Fire Storyabout the impact of the Thomas Fire in the Ventura County community.

Following its hybrid model from last year, all movies and select specials will then be available for on-demand streaming from November 8-20. Visit for more details, timetables and ticket information.

About Herbert L. Leonard

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