In Roger Hanin’s semi-autobiographical film, “Soleil” (1997), 13-year-old Meyer is kicked out of school for being Jewish in Vichy North Africa. It is a sign that things have changed for his family in Algeria, where Jews had peacefully lived for centuries amid the Moslems. Now, Meyer’s communist father must go into hiding; his mother, Titine (Sophia Loren), must raise her children alone, charming black marketeers into giving her food. She manages to talk authorities into keeping Meyer out of jail when he is caught writing anti-government graffiti.
“Soleil” will debut here at the Director’s Guild on Oct. 28, the gala opening of the second annual Los Angeles Sephardic Film Festival, sponsored by the Sephardic Educational Center. Like all 13 of the festival shorts, features and documentaries, “Soleil” emphasizes the ethnic diversity of Sephardic Jews.
The festival continues on Nov. 3, 5 and 8 with films such as “Novia Que Te Vea,” about the courtship of a Sephardic boy and an Ashkenazic girl in Mexico City after World War II; the documentary “The South: Alice Never Lived Here,” in which Greek-Bulgarian filmmaker Sini Bar David revisits her Jaffa Sephardic neighborhood; and “Zohar,” about the Israeli music superstar, Zohar Argov, who committed suicide in 1987.
The screenings will take place at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills and at the Laemmle Town Center in Encino; there also will be a filmmakers’ seminar on Nov. 8 at the Music Hall. For a festival schedule and information, call (310) 441-9361. *
“Soleil” with Sophia Loren will debut at the Los Angeles Sephardic Film Festival on Oct. 28.