About the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival

Our mission, vision, and history

Our mission

To present films with Jewish themes from all over the world to the Greater Phoenix Community.

Our vision

To increase the sense of community and cohesiveness among all Jews in the Valley of the Sun. To increase awareness of the variety and richness of Jewish culture among all residents of the Valley of the Sun.

We accomplish this mission

By presenting films reflecting past, present, and future themes of Jewish life worldwide. By encouraging participation of all Jewish organizations in the Festival. By sharing the benefits of the Festival with the entire community.

We do this because

We believe in and value our Jewish heritage. We believe in and value the contribution the film festival continues to make to our entire community. We believe Jewish films reflect these values. We believe Jewish films add to the enrichment, understanding, and perception of these values.

Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival History

The Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival (GPJFF) resulted from a merger of the Phoenix Jewish Film Festival (PJFF) and the East Valley Jewish Film Festival (EVJFF). The PJFF was was founded by Phyllis and Sheldon Pierson who, in 1996 decided that Phoenix, the capitol and largest city in Arizona, needed a Jewish film festival; in 2004, the EVJFF was born from an idea of Gloria and the late Sid Israel. The two festivals merged five years later, and, thus, the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival as we know it now was created. This is our 20th year of providing entertaining and compelling international films with Jewish themes to audiences across the metropolitan Phoenix area.

GPJFF is a wholly independent, volunteer-run 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Sources of funding are ticket sales, donations, advertising and grants. In the past, we have received grants from the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, City of Scottsdale, City of Chandler, West Valley Art Council and the Arizona Commission on the Arts/National Endowment for the Arts. Over 6,400 people attended our films in 2016, and we expect to attract many more in 2017. Many out-of-towners who spend time in Phoenix during the winter regularly attend and generously support the festival.

Film screening committees begin the hard yet rewarding work of selecting films as soon as the current festival ends. The GPJFF strives to bring to the big screen a variety of excellent films produced in different countries, and to offer different genres, including drama, comedy, documentary and Holocaust.

Films are shown in three venues across the Valley: Scottsdale, Chandler, and Peoria. Taking films to these communities makes it convenient for our patrons from the widespread metro Phoenix areas to attend.

Guest speakers present commentary following many of our festival films and provide Question and Answer sessions to engage audience members. Speakers are film makers, rabbis, historians, other professionals, and film critics, both Jewish and non-Jewish, selected for the contributions they make to enrich the experience for our festival attendees.

A film specifically geared to students is offered free of charge one Sunday morning during each year's festival. The GPJFF also provides a no-cost "Film in the Schools" program to religious and secular middle and high schools, where Holocaust-related films are shown and post-film discussions held to teach the important lesson of tolerance.