PORTLAND – The eighth annual Maine Jewish Film Festival will run March 12 to 17, featuring 24 films from all over the world as well as several American and international guest artists.

The festival will kick off with its opening night gala beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, at Portland’s Greenhut Galleries, 146 Middle St. The gala includes a screening of “Wondrous Oblivion,” an award-winning British feature, at Nickelodeon Cinemas on Temple Street in downtown Portland.

During the pre-film party, the festival will present its second annual award to Peggy Greenhut Golden for her dedication to the festival. Other honored guests this year include Los Angeles’ Marjan Safinia, director of the documentary “Seeds” about Maine’s Seeds of Peace camp; Elisabeth Citroën from Paris, director of “The Klarsfelds,” part of this year’s Women Filmmakers Forum; and Emily Woof from London, lead actress in “Wondrous Oblivion.”

The evening’s feature film, “Wondrous Oblivion,” will start at 7:30 p.m. Director Paul Morrison, an Academy Award nominee, has filmed 1960’s working-class South London where 11-year-old David Wiseman lives with his Jewish immigrant parents. David’s love for cricket and fantasies of becoming a champion keep him oblivious to his ineptitude in the game. When a Jamaican family moves in next door, David sees them construct a cricket net in the backyard. With the help of his new neighbors, David not only masters the game but also discovers the power of friendship, the complexity of prejudice and the importance of standing up for what’s right. Last season, the festival’s opening night film attracted a near sell-out crowd of 250 viewers.

Tickets for the opening night gala and film are $20 per person and include hors d’oeuvres from Aurora Provisions and Barbara’s Kitchen as well as wine and desserts. The gala offers an opportunity for attendees to meet special guest artists. To order tickets, people can contact the festival at 831-7495.

The weeklong festival will offer a mix of features, short films and documentaries with screenings at The Movies on Exchange Street, the Portland Museum of Art and the Center for Maine History. A detailed schedule and ticket information is available at www.mjff.org.

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