Separated from her family’s Jewish faith, Kate Marks felt alone when her father died. So, seeking closure, she wrote the short film “7-Day Gig.”
“It’s a personal film for me,” Marks says. “I have the Jewish ancestry, but I’m not Jewish myself, even though it’s part of my background and heritage. I felt the loss of that culture when I was grieving.”
The movie, which will be shown during the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, tells the story of a punk, an old man and a chicken who gather for a makeshift Shiva after Jay—a Romanian/Guamanian/Catholic/Jew—puts an ad on Craigslist looking for mourners to join him.
In its 20th year, the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival screens films in three location —Scottsdale Shea 14, Chandler Fashion 20 and Arrowhead Fountains 18. According to Bob Segelbaum, the event’s executive director, the project is a labor of love.
Planning for the festival, which this year runs February 14 through February 28, begins 12 months prior and continues through to the day before the event.
“We start our screening process as soon as the festival is over,” Segelbaum says. “We have three screening committees—West Valley, Chandler and Scottsdale. They all review the same film the same week and they rate them.
“Based on the rating, we decide which films will play at the festival. They screen all through the spring and summer and into the fall. We hopefully have our selections by October.”
To help celebrate the two decades of excellence, the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival is hosting a party at the Phoenix Art Museum at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, February 11. Tickets are $36.
“We’re having a special party at the Phoenix Art Museum,” Segelbaum says. “We’ll have hors d’oeuvres and drinks and a short presentation. If there’s time, people can wander through the galleries. Then at 7, we go into the theater and there’s a film presentation called ‘The Wandering Muse.’”
Whether it’s screening the films, presenting the anniversary party or just seeing satisfied film goers, he’s thrilled to be a part of the event.
“It’s a labor of love,” he says. “It’s a lot of work. I’m like an engineer on the train to make sure the train stays on its tracks.
“It’s a great thing and we’re very fortunate that we’ve been able to carry on the tradition for 20 years. We have a great group of people working and we all look forward to the successful festival.”
Marks hopes her film will move audiences.
“I want people to recognize how beautiful tradition and culture is, coming from the perspective of a person who doesn’t have it,” says the former theater actress. “I’m wanting this culture and tradition, even though I am no longer connected to it.”
The Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival
Scottsdale Shea 14, Chandler Fashion 20 and Arrowhead Fountains 18, 602.753.9366, gpjff.org, Sunday, February 14, through Sunday, February
28, times vary, prices vary