‘Simpsons’ producer to open 22nd annual film festival

Mike Reiss, writer/producer of ‘The Simpsons,’ as he would look in the cartoon world he helped create.

The 22nd annual Tucson International Jewish Film Festival, featuring almost two dozen comedies, dramas and documentaries about everything from music to bagels to the healing power of dolphins, will be held Jan. 10-20.

A pre-festival kick-off will be held Sunday, Jan. 6 at 2:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Saddlebrooke Desert View Performing Arts Center, with encore screenings of “The Jazz Baroness,” one of the hits of last year’s festival. Tickets are $5.

The opening night event, which will be held at The Loft Cinema on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m., is “The Simpsons and Other Jewish Families — An Evening with Mike Reiss.” The longtime writer/producer will present rare clips and inside stories from one of the longest-running shows in TV history. Tickets are $10.

Another special event will be “Hava Nagila” (the movie) and dance party on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, which is the venue for most films, unless otherwise noted. Tickets are $18.

On Wednesday, Jan. 16, the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s LGBT Jewish Inclusion Project will present “Melting Away,” an Israeli drama that begins with parents discovering their son is secretly a cross-dresser. Preceding the film, which will be screened at 7 p.m., there will be a VIP wine reception at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $30/person, $50/couple.

Other films will include “Dolphin Boy,” about a father’s quest to heal his son, on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 12:45 p.m.; “I Was the Child of Holocaust Survivors,” an animated adaptation of an illustrated memoir, which will be shown on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. with “Nicky’s Family,” a documentary about Sir Nicholas Winston, who rescued hundreds of Czech and Slovak children before the start of World War II; and “California Shmeer,” which will be shown with “AKA Doc Pomus,” the untold story of the man who wrote “This Magic Moment” and other early rock and roll classics, on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.

The festival will conclude with the Fabulous Faygeleh series on Jan. 20 at the Crossroads Festival, featuring two films, the French “Let My People Go” at 1 p.m. and “Yossi,” an Israeli film, at 3 p.m.

Tickets for most films are $8 ($7 for JCC members, students and seniors). A festival pass is $100, and other packages are available. For more information including trailers, visit www.tucsonjewishfilmfestival.org.