The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival bid farewell to it's main venue for another year last Thursday night. The festival continues for over a week, but it's not at the Castro anymore. I was there for the "Closing Night" feature (less than halfway into the festival.)
RUE MANDAR is a French-Jewish comedy about tradition, family, and remembering where you came from (that sounds so Jewish it would belong in the festival even if the characters weren't Jews.) When the widowed matriarch of the family passes away, all her children show up. They muddle through the Jewish funeral service--it's clear none of them are religious. Then they set about dealing with their loss in different ways. The centerpiece of their grief and strife is the old apartment on Rue Mandar--the street where they grew up. Do they keep it or sell it? Do they renovate it? Or--as it so happens--do they all go a little insane? One decides all this apartment talk--and thoughts of life passing him by--has convinced him to renovate his own apartment. He and his wife have talked about it, but that didn't mean she was ready for a Polish construction crew to barge in while she was still in her bathrobe having breakfast. One daughter is a psychiatrist, who just stops listening to her patients. Some want to hold on to the place--and the memories--while one clears the place out and has a "mourning special" street sale of all the stuff.
They say comedy is very culturally based, and hence doesn't play well in foreign territories. And I confess there were times I was perplexed by situations and what seemed to be a leisurely pace. But there was enough universality (or Jew-niversality?) in this that I quite enjoyed it.
And that was SFJFF at the Castro. Now for a week in Palo Alto (just a half block from my work) and the festival is over...for me...for another year.
Running Time: 95 minutes
My Total Minutes: 335,806