The 15th annual Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival kicks off Wednesday at various locations around Tampa Bay, with an international lineup portraying Jewish culture and history. The festival continues through Feb. 21, with Friday intermissions for the Jewish sabbath.
First stop is Tampa Theatre, for the 7:30 p.m. Florida premiere of The Matchmaker, nominated for seven Israeli Academy Awards. A dessert reception in the theater lobby concludes the evening. Tickets are $15, available at the festival website (www.tbjff.org).
Admission is $6 to all other screenings, at venues including Tampa's Channelside Cinemas 10, BayWalk 20 and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, and Sun City Center.
Festival highlights include Thursday at BayWalk 20, where director Evgeny Afineevsky will introduce a 9 p.m. screening of Oy Vey! My Son is Gay! starring Lainie Kazan and Carmen Electra.
Visitors can meet Afineevsky at 7:30 during a preshow reception at the nearby Mindy Solomon Gallery. Space is limited for that free event, so call (727) 502-0852 to RSVP.
On Feb. 13 at Tampa Theatre, Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu will appear at a 3 p.m. screening of the Gut Shabbes Vietnam. Matisyahu will perform a short musical set after the movie, and answer audience questions. He'll be in concert at the theater later that night.
Other events include two discussion forums on caring for people with special needs, inspired by the drama Anita, starring Alejandra Manzo as a woman with Down syndrome. The movie and discussions will be presented Feb. 12 at Baywalk 20 (7 p.m.) and Feb. 19 at Channelside Cinemas (9 p.m.).
For information and tickets, visit the festival website at www.tbjff.org.