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Cinema on the Couch film series

“Cinema on the Couch”, the free film series portion of the 2 month activities festival FREUDFEST, is a small but substantial film series jointly presented by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, and the Jewish Community Center San Francisco (JCCSF). A celebration of the 150th birthday of the Father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, FreudFest extends from March 21 to May 21, holding lectures, workshops and screenings weekly to biweekly basis until the climactic closing events on May 21.

The majority of the FreudFest-ivities occur at the JCCSF (3200 California Street), though the hub for the festival’s film programming is the SF Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF), run out of the 9th St. Independent Film Center in San Francisco’s. Recently, SFJFF worked with the JCCSF in Spring 2004 to “launch their inaugural film series at their new building” reported Peter Stein, Executive Director of the SF Jewish Film Festival. “When they contacted us last year about programming films in connection with FreudFest, we were happy to do so.” As the emphasis of SFJFF is new and break out film, Stein said his groups were especially eager to embrace the FreudFest programming because “we don’t get the opportunity to showcase too much archival film.” Stein searched through films from different eras so as to get a wide view of Freud and his accomplishments. “We have a German silent from the 20’s, a mid-century classic (SPELLBOUND) a 70’s-era entertainment, and a very recent documentary.”

The opening film, SECRETS OF A SOUL (1926) by G.W. Pabst, inaugurated the screening series at 7pm on March 21st. This rarely seen Weimar film set many of the conventions associated with the representation of dream sequences. Followed by a discussion led by UC Berkeley Cinema Studies Professor Anne Nesbet, patrons from all walks, as well as mental health professionals, commented upon the films simultaneously modern and outdated take on the psyche and the representation of dream.

Next in the “Cinema on the Couch” Lineup is Hitchcock’s SPELLBOUND. Famous for its Dali inspired dream sequence, this film will play on April 4th at 7pm, and be followed discussion with UC Berkeley Cinema Scholar Marilyn Fabe. A british Documentary in two parts, CENTURY OF THE SELF directed by Adam Curtis, explores the effects of Freud’s analysis on the “self” of the 20th Century. This 2005 documentary will screen over two weeks. CENTURY: Part One will play on May 1st at 6 and 8:30 and CENTURY Part Two will play May 8th at 6 and 8:30. Closing the screenings is the 1976 Herbert Ross Literary-Historical hybrid THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION. This film, about a fictional history in which Freud cures Sherlock Holmes of his cocaine addiction, will play on May 9th at 7pm.

In addition to the films in the “Cinema on the Couch” series, FreudFest offers a solid grouping of discussions regarding Jewish Identity, Faith and Psychoanalysis. The first lecture of FreudFest will take place on March 23rd at the JCCSF. Called “Inside the DreamCoat”, this lecture, led by Rabbi Scott Slarsky is identified in the brochure of events with a quote from the Babylonian Talmud Berakhot (55a) that reads, “A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read.” Following this event, on April 30th, Jonathan Lear will pose a lecture on Freud’s critique of religion, and the challenge of religious commitment in 21st century. Finally, closing out FreudFest with a literal bang, a special guest lecture will be presented by Ira Glass and satirist David Rakoff. These very special guests and contributors to NPR’s great radio show This American Life will present a humorous look at the efficacy of Freud’s principles. Entitled “The Talking Cure”, this event is already in high demand and will round out FreudFest in though, humor and spirit on May 21st.

For further information on the festival, please go to or visit to purchase tickets.

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