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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week at the Jewish Film Festival

Executed Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann is the subject of Raymond Levy's fascinating new documentary, playing Monday at the Roda Theatre in Berkeley.

The 31st Jewish Film Festival remains in San Francisco through the weekend at the Jewish Community Center on California Street, before moving on to exclusive stints at the Roda Theatre in Berkeley and the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. (Additional screenings at the Christopher B. Smith Film Center begin next Friday.) Among the week's highlights:

1. Eichmann's End: Love, Betrayal, Death
Where: Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-647-2949
When: Aug. 1
Why: Raymond Levy mixes historical reenactments with interviews and found footage to illuminate the little-known story behind Holocaust organizer Adolf Eichmann’s 1960 capture in Argentina. Set mostly during the '50s in Buenos Aires, where Jewish refugees and unrepentant Nazis harbored dreams of revenge and vindication, End chronicles how an unlikely romance between the daughter of a survivor and one of Eichmann’s sons led to a notorious war criminal's eventual capture.

2. The Juggler
Where: Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-647-2949
When: Aug. 1
Why: Handsomely restored to full 35-milimeter glory, Edward Dmytryk's harrowing postwar drama, first released in 1953, finds festival honoree Kirk Douglas playing Hans Muller, a Holocaust survivor who relocates to Israel in the aftermath of his liberation. Serenity remains elusive, however, as Muller, a famous German juggler haunted by memories of his captivity in a Nazi concentration camp, struggles to subdue his understandable rage.

3. Intimate Grammar
Where: Jewish Community Center SF, 3200 California St., 415-292-1200
When: July 31
Why: Winner of the Sakura Grand Prix at the Tokyo International Film Festival, Nir Bergman's moving adaptation of David Grossman's 1991 novel follows the poetic story of young Aharon, the teenage son of a dysfunctional family living in Jerusalem during the '60s, who invents a colorful fantasy world to cope with his melancholy reality.

4. Bobby Fischer Against the World
Where: Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-647-2949
When: Aug. 1
Why: Liz Garbus (TV's America Undercover) follows the controversial Fischer's journey from Jewish child prodigy to reclusive chess master to virulent anti-Semite. Focusing on his memorable 1972 World Championship match with Boris Spassky, the film plays like a taut Cold War drama. More than a career biography, Against the World is a fascinating chronicle of a complicated, often confounding life, led by a man whose genius was as celebrated as his madness was derided.

5. Little Rose
Where: Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-647-2949
When: Aug. 2
Why: Rose examines Poland’s repressive political environment in the late '60s, making sharp dramatic use of totalitarianism’s contamination of private relationships. Jan Kidawa-Blonski’s award-winning espionage thriller opens as news of the Six Day War arrives with the message that Israel’s gains represent a threat to Poland. In this paranoid atmosphere, a blonde bombshell is hired by the secret police to spy on a renowned intellectual suspected of subversive views.

6. Incessant Visions: Letters from an Architect
Where: Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-647-2949
When: July 31
Why: Following the Nazi Party's rise to power, Jewish architect Erich Mendelsohn fled to London. There he met future president of Israel Chaim Weitzman, who offered him the chance to become the "national architect" of the Jewish state-to-be. In 1937, Mendelsohn relocated to Jerusalem; four years later, as Rommel advanced on Egypt, he fled once again – this time to America, where Frank Lloyd Wright helped him to arrange an exhibition of his works in New York. Duki Dror's documentary, a testament to the integrity and timelessness of Mendelsohn's vision, brilliantly illuminates his life and work.

7. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness
Where: Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-647-2949
When: Aug. 2
Why: Darkness presents a riveting portrait of the Ukrainian author and playwright whose writings helped transform Yiddish into a literary language and, in the process, introduced the world to beloved characters including Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof. Here, director Joseph Dorman (TV's Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America) combines excerpts from Aleichem’s work with interviews, archival photographs and documentary footage to chronicle the dramatic evolution of Yiddish culture.