Doc directors, A good marriage, School days, Short shorts …

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Doc directors

Marc Smolowitz photo/gabe roth

Two Bay Area directors, Yoav Potash and Marc Smolowitz, have documentary films debuting this month. Potash’s “Crime After Crime” opens Friday, Aug. 5 at theaters in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Rafael.

The movie tells the story of how attorneys Nadia Costa and Joshua Safran, an Orthodox Jew, worked pro bono to free Debbi Peagler, a black woman who had served 20 years of a life sentence for killing her abusive husband. It won both the Audience Award and Golden Gate Award for Investigative Documentary at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival and was an official selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

“The Power of Two,” Smolowitz’s documentary about twins suffering from cystic fibrosis, will premiere Aug. 19 at Oscar-qualifying DocuWeeks in L.A. and New York. It is also on for Sept. 10 at the Castro Theatre.

Smolowitz, who was nominated for an Academy Award as producer of “The Weather Underground,” notes that the film is part of a multimedia project to educate audiences about cystic fibrosis and other chronic diseases and inspire more organ donation.


A good marriage

Speaking of films: In remarks at the opening of the S.F. Jewish Film Festival, Israeli Consul General Akiva Tor noted that in the few years he’s been based in San Francisco, he’s “come to know that the film festival is almost as important as the High Holy Days. I won’t say that’s good or bad,” he quipped. Extending appreciation to SFJFF Executive Director Peter Stein for, among other things, providing a showcase for Israeli films, Tor said the relationship between the SFJFF and the consulate is like a good marriage  — sustaining in spite of  both “good and stormy years.”

In a guest appearance following the opening night film “Mabul (The Flood),” director Guy Nativ told the audience that his crew had to reshoot one scene six months after the original shoot and, to their consternation, found that 12-year-old star Yoav Rotman’s voice had changed in the interim. Luckily, he noted, technology provided a fix.


School days

Lori Geismar Ryan

The Contra Costa JCC has a new Early Childhood Education director. Lori Geismar Ryan is relocating from Denver, where she has served as a coach for the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative and has 20 years of experience in the field. “She will be an incredible gift and addition to our community and will change the face of early childhood education in our area,” said Judith Markowitz, the department’s interim director. Markowitz will now serve in a complementary role, according to Contra Costa JCC executive director Jamie Hyams … Katharina Stromeyer is the new director of admissions at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in S.F. She joined the school in June from her position as director of admissions at the International School of Brussels (Belgium).


Short shorts …

In June, Berkeley native Aaron Finkelstein was ordained at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbincal School in Riverdale, N.Y.; he plans to start a new Modern Orthodox shul in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn … Rebecca Herman of Berkeley was one of 13 high school sophomores and juniors nationally to be awarded the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Ahavat Torah Award for excellence in leadership, service and Judaic studies … San Francisco Hillel’s Shushannah Akin is now the group’s full-time development director.

This columnist can be reached at [email protected].