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Manhattan in Union Square: Watch Woody Allen's Classic For Free

Now celebrating its 29th anniversary, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival begins Thursday, July 23, with an opening-night party at the Swedish American Hall followed by a screening of Cathy Randall’s coming-of-age comedy Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger at the Roxie. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start celebrating on your own a few days earlier.

The festival, in conjunction with the San Francisco Neighborhood Theatre Foundation’s Film Night in the Park, will sponsor a free outdoor screening of Woody Allen’s Manhattan in Union Square on Saturday, July 11. It’s a unique opportunity not only to see Allen’s 1979 dramatic masterwork on a bigger-than-big screen, but also to view New York’s breathtaking cityscapes, beautifully photographed in black and white by longtime Allen collaborator Gordon Willis, set against the San Francisco skyline.

The screening begins at 8:45 p.m., with a festival kickoff party scheduled afterward at Kuleto’s, where those in attendance can take advantage of special discounts on wine and cocktails, including the evening’s drink of choice, the Manhattan.

If that doesn’t satisfy your appetite for Jewish-themed cinema, be sure to check out the festival’s New Media Initiative, which features downloadable videos of festival panels, a program of online shorts, materials for educators, user reviews and social networking tools for teen filmmakers. Full-length films will be posted on the site in the coming weeks, as well as in-depth coverage of this year's selections, which include Natalie Portman’s directorial debut (Eve, a 17-minute short about age and beauty) and 575 Castro St., Jenni Olsen’s tribute to Harvey Milk.