As reported by the JTA, the atmosphere at Thursday’s SFJFF screening of controversial documentary “Rachel” was an emotionally charged affair.

The story of Rachel Corrie, an American 23-year-old killed while trying to prevent an Israeli military bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian’s home, the film has divided SF’s Jewish community, with some saying the film should not have been included, some saying that, for the screening’s Q&A, Corrie’s mother should not have been invited to speak, and still others just booing and hissing during the discussion and some parts of the film.

Appeal videographer attended the film, and captured some of the scene. According to him:

Booing and hissing between spastic applause like children at a carnival, the Castro Theatre turned into a peanut gallery. The festival’s executive director Peter Stein more than once asked the audience to listen to one another respectfully, to which the overwhelming majority of attendees hurled back a deafening bedlam of approval, drowning out the director’s voice.

As Rachel’s mother, Cindy Corrie, put it during the Q & A, the battle raging in the theater had less to do with herself, her daughter or the film than with pre-existing differences of opinion within the Jewish community. Forget whether the film was any good. This audience had already made up its mind some time between 1948 and when the curtains opened.

Read more accounts of the evening here, and here. — Eve Batey

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