"It's our 18th year, our good luck year. We're sharing this anniversary with Israel's 60th anniversary," said Dan Shapiro, director of marketing for the Center for Jewish Culture.
The number 18 is a good-luck number, Shapiro said. It represents the letter H in the Jewish alphabet, and the festival is excited to share the Israeli anniversary of becoming a Jewish nation.
"Israel became a nation 60 years ago," Shapiro said. "Many people over 60 years old lived in a time where there wasn't an Israel, so we have a pretty good share of Israeli films to celebrate that."
Shapiro said the festival has 12 Hebrew films this year, 16 English-language films, and many other nations are represented. Sponsors will show movies from England, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand and other countries.
Producers of the festival are taking this year to expand the event, Shapiro said. They have added programs this year and are planning on showing movies year-round.
One addition at the Jewish Community Center will be a Mommy and Me movie, to which people can bring their babies and let them cry, Shapiro said. Host Bruegger's Bagels will serve bagels, babies are free, and tickets are $6. The film is "Arranged," and it will run Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 11 a.m.
Film festival producers also decided to show a popular Israeli soap opera this year. Beginning March 3, the Jewish Community Center will show the first four episodes of "A Touch Away," and on March 6, the final four episodes will be screened. All will begin at 7 p.m.
This year's festival will show an Academy Award-nominated film, "Beaufort," Shapiro said. This will be San Diego's first chance to see the Israeli film about the nation's last battle with Lebanon and a soldier's struggle with that war.
Beginning Feb. 7, opening night for the festival, hosted by the Mizel Family Foundation, "Sixty Six" will play at 7 p.m. at AMC La Jolla, featuring Helena Bonham Carter. The films will be screened through Feb. 17 at various movie theaters, including AMC La Jolla 12, UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas, UltraStar Poway 10 and the David & Dorothea Garfield Theatre.
Shuttle service will be available Feb. 8 at the Good Samaritan Church, the corner of Genesee and Eastgate Mall.
For more information, visit www.lfjcc.org/sdjff or call (858) 362-1348.