Record attendance within reach as Atlanta Jewish Film Festival enters first weekend

Arthur Blank’s Falcons didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, knocked out of contention by the San Francisco 49ers, but son Kenny Blank’s endeavor looks like it could finish the year No. 1 at the expense of different City by the Bay competition.

The younger Blank is executive director of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, the city’s largest film gathering and the second-largest Jewish film fest in the U.S. The three-week movie extravaganza moves into its first weekend Friday.

The AJFF drew a record 30,200 last year, and this year’s 13th edition appears tracking to surpass the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, which typically tops 30,000. Before the Atlanta festival opened on Wednesday, it already had ticket sales of 22,104, not counting 9,316 comps issued to sponsors, and 31 of the 124 screenings had sold out.

“We’re not in competition with them, and we’re not focused on (being largest) necessarily as an objective,” Kenny Blank said of the 49ers — er, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, whose 33rd edition opens July 25. “We want to put on the best film festival we can. If that takes us to No. 1, that’s a great accolade and calling card.”

Here are highlights of the coming week’s schedule (with sellouts common, advance ticket purchase is advised):

“Glickman” is a biography of the Jewish sprinter known as the “Flatbush Flash” who went on to become a New York sports broadcasting institution. (Noon Feb. 1, Tara; 7 p.m. Feb. 11, Lefont Sandy Springs; 4:30 p.m. Feb. 17 sold out; 8 p.m. Feb. 17, North Point)

“Paris-Manhattan” is a French romantic comedy about a loveless 30-something’s obsession with Woody Allen movies and the dashing Frenchman who may represent her own happy ending. (Noon Feb. 1, Merchants Walk; 12:25 p.m. Feb. 8, Atlantic Station; Feb. 14 sold out)

In the 29-minute documentary “The Cake Lady,” an Atlanta bubbie (grandmother) shares signature sweets and bittersweet memories. It’s one of seven titles in the first of three shorts programs. (2:05 p.m. Feb. 1, Merchants Walk; 4:20 p.m. Feb. 3, Tara)

A baby-naming announcement sparks histrionics in the French stage-to-screen comedy “What’s in a Name.” (2:10 p.m. Feb. 1, Tara; Feb. 7 and 9 sold out; 8 p.m. Feb. 16, North Point)

The Israeli dramedy “The World Is Funny,” which blends fantasy and reality as three estranged siblings with abandonment issues face adult challenges, received 15 Ophir nominations, that country’s equivalent of the Academy Awards. (8 p.m. Feb. 2, Tara; 8 p.m. Feb. 4, Merchants Walk; 2:20 p.m. Feb. 15, North Point; Feb. 16 sold out)

“A.K.A. Doc Pomus” is a documentary about the disabled songwriter behind “Save the Last Dance for Me” and many other hits. (Feb. 2 and 3 sold out; 2:30 p.m. Feb. 8, Atlantic Station; 6:45 p.m. Feb. 19, Lefont Sandy Springs)

“Lunch” is a fly-on-the-wall documentary capturing funnymen including Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner and Monty Hall as they nosh at a Sherman Oaks, Calif., deli. (11 a.m. Feb. 3, Tara; Feb. 15 sold out)

The documentary “Portrait of Wally” focuses on a Nazi-plundered painting against a backdrop of New York art world corruption. (11 a.m. Feb. 3, Merchants Walk; noon Feb. 11, Lefont Sandy Springs)

“Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy” is a documentary mixing clips from hit shows plus interviews with John Kander, Charles Strouse, Harold Prince and Mel Brooks. (4 p.m. Feb. 3, Merchants Walk; Feb. 18 sold out)

“Tiger Eyes,” a first-time adaptation of a Judy Blume novel, is about a teen grappling with the sudden, violent loss of her Jewish father. (Feb. 3 sold out; 2:40 p.m. Feb. 17, North Point, with Blume and her director-son Lawrence Blume speaking; 2:20 p.m. Feb. 18, Lefont Sandy Springs, with the director speaking)

In “The Dandelions,” a French-Jewish girl seeks escape from her dysfunctional family. (Noon Feb. 4, Tara; 4:30 p.m. Feb. 10, Lefont Sandy Springs; 12:10 p.m. Feb. 13, Lefont Sandy Springs)

“Defiant Requiem” is a documentary about the power of music in the face of darkness at Terezin Concentration Camp. (2:15 p.m. Feb. 4, Tara; Feb. 13 sold out; 2:35 p.m. Feb. 14, Lefont Sandy Springs)

“When Day Breaks” is a drama in which a retired Serbian music professor finds out that his parents were Jews murdered in the Holocaust, not the Christian farmers who raised him, after records turn up in an excavation. (2:35 p.m. Feb. 4, Merchants Walk; 2:30 p.m. Feb. 5, Tara; 11:35 a.m. Feb. 10, Lefont Sandy Springs)

In “The Last White Knight,” filmmaker Paul Saltzman, a former civil rights worker and 1960s activist, returns to Mississippi to encounter the KKK member who once assaulted him, KKK member Byron “Delay” De La Beckwith Jr., son of the man convicted of killing civil rights leader Medgar Evers. (8 p.m. Feb. 4, Tara; 2:30 p.m. Feb. 5, Merchants Walk; 11:45 a.m. Feb. 18, Lefont Sandy Springs)

Based on Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” and its Hollywood remake “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Ballad of the Weeping Spring” is a Western-styled Israeli fairy tale about a Mizrahi band with a reclusive leader that reunites to grant a friend’s last wish. (Noon Feb. 5, Merchants Walk; Feb. 9 sold out; 9 p.m. Feb. 13, Lefont Sandy Springs)

“Suskind” tells the true story of a Jewish industrialist who saved hundreds of Dutch children from the death camps. (8 p.m. Feb. 5, Merchants Walk; noon Feb. 14, North Point; Feb. 16 sold out)

Nominated for 13 Guldbagge Awards, Sweden’s version of the Oscars, “Simon and the Oaks” is about family secrets that entangle two boys from different backgrounds in coastal Gothenburg around World War II. (Noon Feb. 6, Tara; Feb. 9 sold out; 11:30 a.m. Feb. 15, North Point)

“My First Wedding” is a screwball comedy from Argentina about a wedding where everything that could go wrong does. (Noon Feb. 6, Merchants Walk; 8 p.m. Feb. 14, North Point)

“Orchestra of Exiles” digs into the roots of the Israeli Philharmonic. (2:30 p.m. Feb. 6, Merchants Walk; Feb. 7 and 17 sold out)

In the documentary “Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir,” the Polish-French filmmaker shares raw recollections of tragic real-life episodes that haunt him and his movies. (2:50 p.m. Feb. 6, Tara; 4:40 p.m. Feb. 10, Lefont Sandy Springs)

“Out in the Dark” is a drama of forbidden love between a Palestinian psychology student and a Jewish Tel Aviv lawyer. (8 p.m. Feb. 6, Tara; 12:10 p.m. Feb. 15, Lefont Sandy Springs)

“My Awkward Sexual Adventure,” a Canadian sex comedy about an accountant who seeks help from a stripper to win back his sexually unfulfilled girlfriend, is the fest’s “Gen-Y Night” special feature. (8 p.m. Feb. 7, Atlantic Station, $20 includes 6 p.m. party with cash bar at Meehan’s Public House; encore at 9:05 p.m. Feb. 14, Lefont Sandy Springs, regular festival admission applies)

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