February 4, 2005

World Premiere of Tijuana Jews

A Documentary by Director Isaac Artenstein

Growing up Jewish in Mexico, award-winning Director Isaac Artenstein found reactions of surprise, even disbelief, from many people north of the border: they had no idea there were Jews in Mexico, and especially Tijuana. The San Diego Jewish Film Festival is proud to present the World Premiere of TIJUANA JEWS, a one-hour documentary and personal exploration of this blended Jewish and Mexican community on Saturday, Feb 12, 6:15 p.m. at AMC La Jolla 12 Theatres (JOY F. KNAPP Presentation).

“It is a rare opportunity for an international film festival like the San Diego Jewish Film Festival to offer the world premiere of a film that pertains specifically to its own community,” says SDJFF Producer Jacqueline Siegel. “Tijuana Jews is a San Diego story that Jewish and non-Jewish people from both sides of the San Diego/Tijuana border will relate to and find fascinating. Already film festivals from as far away as Barcelona are asking to show it.”

Director Isaac Artenstein Justo Sierra School. Tijuana 1958.

The interviews in TIJUANA JEWS provide insights into the experiences of local pioneers who created the first Jewish temple in Tijuana and subsequent congregations such as the Maguen David, The Hatikvah, and the Centro Social Israelita de Tijuana. They also bring to life Tijuana’s colorful reputation and history that began with Prohibition in the 1920’s.

For Artenstein, Tijuana was a place for weddings, bar mitzvahs, graduations and helping out at his father’s store on Revolucion Avenue. The first-person narration takes the audience on an intimate journey, encountering and re-encountering people and places, while reflecting on a life-long experience that builds to a dynamic present day reality.

Isaac Artenstein wrote and directed the feature film, Break of Dawn (1988) that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He produced the romantic comedy Love Always (1996), and social satire A Day Without a Mexican (2004). He has produced and/or directed a number of award-winning documentaries including: an Emmy for Ballad of an Unsung Hero (1984) and an Academy Award nomination for In the Name of the People (1985). Artenstein has taught film production and directing courses at USC and UCSD and was a founding member of the Border Arts Workshop in San Diego. He is currently developing a feature film based on his play Under the Brilliant Sky about the lives of Tina Modotti and Edward Weston.

The San Diego Center for Jewish Culture at the Law-rence Family Jewish Community Center, JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS presents the largest international film festival in San Diego and one of the most popular Jewish film festivals in the country. Over 40 documentary and feature length films will be showcased in four local San Diego theatres during the two week festival, February 10 – 20, 2005. Other highlights include: a tribute to Hollywood legend Paul Mazursky and the San Diego premieres of Nina’s Tragedies and Walk on Water.

The 15th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival, sponsored by Dr. Bob and Mao Shillman, is February 10 –20, 2005 at the AMC La Jolla 12 Theatres (Joy F. Knapp Presentation), Mann Theatres Hazard Center 7, Ultrastar Poway Creekside Plaza 10 and the David and Dorothea Garfield Theatre at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS, 4126 Executive Drive in La Jolla. Single ticket prices are $10/JCC Member and $12/Non-member, festival passes and group rate discounts are available. For tickets and information call the JCC Box Office at (858) 362-1348. For schedule and theatre locations visit www.lfjcc.org.

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