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“A Children’s Song”, and other moving stories at the SD Jewish Film Festival

A Children’s Song”, and other moving stories at the 27th Annual SD Jewish Film Festival

By Alejandra Enciso

The 27th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival returns February 8-19, 2017.  It is the largest Jewish cultural event in San Diego, drawing over 17,000 attendees annually to more than 70 film screenings, which will be shown at five locations throughout San Diego County.

The mission of the Festival is to offer outstanding world cinema that promotes awareness, appreciation, and pride in the diversity of the Jewish people, to attendees of the community at large. Festival programs aim to educate and illuminate through evocative, independent fiction and documentary films that portray the Jewish experience from current to historic global perspectives.

On February 13th, an outstanding group of twenty-three short films from around the world will be presented in a day-long program beginning at 10:00 am to 10:00 pm at the ArcLight La Jolla Cinemas in La Jolla, CA. The program of film shorts, known as The Joyce Forum: A Day of Short Film, is named after Film Festival’s founder Joyce Axelrod who created the short film program in 2003 and continues to chair the jury who selects the short films.

Films have been grouped into four different programs of approximately two hours, with showings at 10 AM, 2 PM, 5 PM, and 8 PM. Filmmakers will be present for talkbacks at many of the films, including the director, Shayna Cohen of A Children’s Song. A story about a young Jewish boy and his father fleeing Germany to Shanghai in 1937, and seek shelter with a Chinese doctor who nurses the father back to health while the boy befriends the doctor’s daughter. The two find friendship in music and a song.

“The project started as a co-production between China and the U.S, in the spirit of working together and enhancing relationships. The two main producers are Sid Ganis, who is an eminent figure in the film industry, and actress-producer Jane Wu who is well known in China”. Explained Executive Producer, Reuben Liber during an interview with Vanguard Culture. “They wanted to tell a story that was not really widely known and really spoke to a lot of relevant issues and current experiences that still play today. A chapter of history that had not gotten noticed (I think) on a global level that maybe, it deserves”.   

The harboring of Jewish refugees in Shanghai before WWII. A Children’s Song is a fictional story set against true events. “I was introduced to Sid, read the script and loved it. I knew that this was something that people needed to hear about” Added Liber. The short has appeared in many festivals and has won several awards since its premiere in 2015. This is only the beginning, there is a feature length adaptation of this story in the works with a major studio. “One of the things I love about A Children’s Song is that it shines a light on a period of history that was not really well known but it is not preachy or didactic. You get an idea of what it was like for those people in those kinds of circumstances and how much little things can really improve people’s lives. I feel that, in today’s environments, the rhetoric and some of the decisions being made on the governmental level… A film like this is a reminder of how this country was founded and improved by immigrants around the world” For Reuben Liber, the future is looking very bright, with a feature film adaptation of Astro Boy, as well as other television projects.

A Children’s Song has a running time of 27 minutes and is scheduled in the program 4 at 8 PM. For more information about this and other shorts and activities happening on February 13th, please call (858) 362-1348 or visit 

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Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.