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Sacramento Jewish Film Festival returns with a documentary about iconic actor Gene Wilder

Sacramento Jewish Film Festival returns for 25th year
Sacramento Jewish Film Festival returns for 25th year 02:18

SACRAMENTO - The Sacramento Jewish Film Festival kicks off this week and celebrates its 25th year.

Gene Wilder was one of Hollywood's most iconic actors who made millions smile.

"He was a mensch. He was a good man and it was an honor and privilege to celebrate him," Glenn Kirchbaum said.

It's why Kirschbaum jumped at the opportunity to document the life of the legendary actor, who was Jewish. 

Work on Kirschbaum's film, "Remembering Gene Wilder," started after Wilder passed away in 2016. The actor's widow had a request.

"He had died of Alzheimer's disease and she wanted to bring attention to that horrible illness in the hopes that we could find a cure," Kirchbaum said. "It became a celebration of Gene Wilder and what he brought to the world."

This is just one of the many films to be shown at the 25th annual Sacramento Jewish Film Festival. Nine films will be available to watch in person and 18 will be streaming.

"Our festival celebrates culture, history, [and] diversity of the Jewish experience," Teven Laxer said. 

Laxer is the festival's director. He says films must have some Jewish connection – whether it be a director, actor, or even a theme.

"Or it could be what we call tikkun olam, which means repairing the world. So it could be a film about social justice," Laxer said.

The festival will not only provide a wide range of movies but something Laxer said a lot of people could use right now.

"People want an escape," Laxer said. "They want to go see friends at the movie theater. They want to go out and have a good time and see something that makes them laugh."

"In times of darkness, it is especially important to find laughter and that's what we aim to do," Kirchbaum said.

The Sacramento Jewish Film Festival kicks off on March 9.

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