Lisa Hurwitz | Documentary | USA, 2021 | English | 79m | G

In-Person Screening: Sunday, March 27 | 11:00 am | AMC
Virtual Screening: Monday, March 28 – Sunday, April 10

NOTE: Brunch event and in-person screening tickets are on standby. Tickets will be released after pass holders + sponsors enter. Standby line starts at 9:30 am, first come.

Film: Mel Brooks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Colin Powell, and Howard Schultz are among the diners singing the praises of Horn & Hardart’s Automats, art deco cafeterias whose rich 100-year history is gloriously celebrated.

Special Event: SJFF’s favorite Jewish comfort food + film extravaganza and our former colleague, filmmaker Lisa Hurwitz, returns in person! Join us for our Sunday Brunch with the director/producer at 10 am. Details >>

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Full Film Details:
Long before fast food as we know it, there were Horn & Hardart’s Automats, a beloved chain of art deco cafeterias that were much more than a place for cheap eats. As filmmaker (and former SJCC staffer) Lisa Hurwitz demonstrates in this illuminating and meticulously researched documentary, these restaurants formed a vital part of America’s social fabric in the first half of the 20th century. Horn & Hardart’s first location opened in Philadelphia in 1902, the first stateside example of a European-style “automat,” where coin-operated vending machines offered everything from baked beans and macaroni to Salisbury steak and an array of mouth-watering pies for a nickel. Eventually expanding to New York City, Horn & Hardart became a cultural phenomenon and an institution, attracting customers from diverse backgrounds with its democratic combination of budget-friendly cuisine and gleaming, aspirational architecture. Even its famous coffee spouted from the mouth of a silver dolphin like a Versailles fountain. In addition to informative interviews with historians and experts, Hurwitz speaks to a bevy of luminaries, including Mel Brooks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elliott Gould, Colin Powell, Carl Reiner, and Howard Schultz, who sing the praises of the Automat. Sharing memories and personal insights, they reveal the charming and unprecedented ways these nearly forgotten establishments shaped American life and ideals.

Director Bio:
THE AUTOMAT, which premiered at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival, is emerging director Lisa Hurwitz’s debut film. Her next project, a narrative film set in Italy, is currently in development. Her background is in arts administration. In 2012 and 2013 she directed the Olympia Film Festival and from 2016-2018 worked as a programmer for the Stroum Jewish Community Center’s Arts + Ideas programs and the Seattle Jewish Film Festival. She now resides in New York City. Learn more on or IMDB.

Film Sponsors

Deborah and Doug Rosen
Glazer’s Camera

Catering Sponsors

Dancing Goats Coffee
Mangia Bene Catering
Rubinstein Bagels

Community Partners

Endless Opportunities/Temple De Hirsch Sinai
URJ Camp Kalsman

Lead Sponsors

Loeb FamilySamis 500x2504 culture

Thank you to all of our sponsors: view here >>.