Seattle Jewish Film Festival

This year’s Seattle Jewish Film Festival is splitting off the opening party (Thurs. at the Palace Ballroom) from tonight’s opening-night feature Ajami—not a bad idea, since the Oscar-nominated film is a bit of a downer. Written and directed by an Israeli Arab and an Israeli Jew, it’s one of those non-linear, back-and-forth crime flicks that shows you a murder, then circles back to when the victim was happy and alive. It’s a little bit Tarantino, a little bit Paul Haggis (Crash). With many characters and subplots, the unifying force is money (or the lack thereof), as an Arabic family in Jaffa falls into a blood-money debt that can only be paid, of course, in blood or money. (Nominated for an Oscar, Ajami opens in theaters on April 16.) The festival’s lighter fare includes forbidden romance, jazz patrons, puppy love, sumo wrestling, teen angst, and twentysomethings who can’t commit. (And, yes, depressing documentaries if you insist.) BRIAN MILLER

Sat., March 13, 8 p.m.; March 14-21, 2010