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Livermore: Upcoming film fest features Sammy Davis Jr.

Trailblazing entertainer faced controversial challenges

"Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me" is among the highlights of the upcoming East Bay International Jewish Film Festival in Livermore. (Contributed photo)

The newly released documentary film, "Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me," will be shown at 7:30 p.m. March 15 at the Vine Cinema & Alehouse in Livermore as part of the 23rd annual East Bay International Jewish Film Festival.

"Many of this year's films explore themes related to prejudice and societal marginalization," said film festival director Riva Gambert.

The Davis documentary, directed by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Sam Pollard, explores not only Davis' relationship with the famed Rat Pack, but also the prejudice he faced as a black man who was a trailblazer from the Depression era through the 1980s.

The film features rare photographs from Davis' personal collection, excerpts from his performances in television, film and concert, as well as interviews with Frank Sinatra, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Belafonte and Jerry Lewis.

Other films in the festival also depict racism, antisemitism and the Holocaust.

"Bullying, stereotyping and discrimination are just plain wrong," Gambert said. "We must do our own part in encouraging civility and tolerance.

"These films focus on the negative impact of narrow-mindedness and extremism on individuals from many different ethnicities, races and religions."

For more about the International Film Series of the East Bay and to purchase tickets, visit eastbayjewishfilm.org or phone 240-3053. Festival-goers are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance for this and other films.

Vine Cinema & Alehouse is located at 1722 First St. in Livermore.

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