Seattle Jewish Film Festival (SJFF) is one of the largest and longest-running film festivals in the Pacific Northwest and one of the largest Jewish film festivals in the country. A cornerstone program of the Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC), SJFF brings people together from across Washington State—and virtually around the globe—to celebrate and showcase the vibrancy and diversity of Jewish and Israeli life through cinema. Year-round, SJFF and SJCC Arts + Ideas present film and performing arts programs that build connections, unlock perspectives, engage the community, and uplift the human spirit.
In 2022, the Seattle Jewish Film Festival presents 18 films from nine countries over two weeks. With both virtual and in-person screenings and events, this festival offers the best of both worlds. SJFF welcomes global Jewish and Israeli talent and stories from around the world to bring us together—whether you watch from the comfort of your home or meet your friends at the theater for in-person screenings and events.
After two years of virtual festivals — featuring streaming films and Zoom conversations — SJFF is thrilled to offer in-person events in 2022. Below is an overview of the typical pre-pandemic 10-day, 4-venue, 30-film, multi-event Festival:
Program Highlights: Opening Night Party, VIP Gala, Sunday Family Brunch, Centerpiece and Spotlight screenings: Sephardic Spotlight, Israeli Night, Gay Gezunt! LGBTQ+ Spotlight. We have a liquor license and at our 370-seat state-of-the-art venue hold many food events and Happy Hours. We provide free and low-cost tickets for seniors 65+, including our Half-Price Matinee and provide free tickets to nonprofits that serve the survivor, senior, special needs communities. No one turned away for lack of funds, but we ask that you go through one of our partner agencies who distribute tickets on our behalf, such as Kline Galland | The Summit, Social Services, or Jewish Family Service.
Venues: In addition to screening films at our state-of-the-art Dolby Digital Barco cinema on Mercer Island (370-400 seats), we screen films throughout the Greater Seattle region, in downtown Seattle, Queen Anne, and on the East Side. During COVID, SJFF has gone virtual, screening a full lineup through a virtual delivery platform which allows for broader opportunities to engage from a wider geographic region. Our virtual festival runs March 4-18, 2021, with 19 films and numerous Zoom conversations with international guests.
- Audience Choice Awards: Attendees cast ballots to decide Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, and Best Shorts.
- REEL and REAL Difference Awards: Every other year, SJFF honors a distinguished filmmaker wth the REEL Difference Award and an arts advocate/leader with our REAL Difference Award. Past recipients include: Academy Award nominated German director Michael Verhoeven, Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis and documentary filmmaker Aviva Kempner, festival co-founder Deborah Rosen, filmmaker and Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain, and producer Michael Benaroya of Benaroya Pictures. Festival founding chair, Deborah Rosen was the first REAL Difference Award recipient. In 2020, SJFF honored Israeli filmmaker Dani Menkin and longtime festival champion/former presenting sponsor Martin Selig with the 2020 REEL and REAL Difference Awards.
- Golden Or (“Light” in Hebrew) Jury Prize for Best Independent Film: Every other year, starting in 2020, a distinguished panel of jurists (past awardees and industry professionals) will watch and select one film from our lineup for this award. The jury will also select a local nonprofit to receive a complimentary community partner film sponsorship (value $400) and receive associated benefits of free tickets with the goal of ensuring this organization’s involvement by way of attendance or programming and that their constituents will benefit from participation and attendance. For example, for last year’s 2020 1st Golden Or Award the nonprofit Youth in Focus was selected as the community partner for PICTURE OF HIS LIFE, the award-winning film.