Pass the Remote: Judy Blume, Greek film fest, ‘On Sacred Ground’  

Judy Blume, who rattled cages when she raised topical discussions and wrote frankly about sex in books for young readers, is the subject of the new documentary "Judy Blume Forever." (Courtesy Amazon Studios)

The conservative movement to ban highly regarded books that self-anointed critics flag as unsuitable for public consumption continues to gain momentum. But there’s also a groundswell of resistance to deliberate efforts to take from library shelves books that illuminate and express experiences of people who are Black, identify as LGBTQ, and others, too. 

One beloved author who felt the burn of pious outrage and was caught in the crossfire is Judy Blume. Some expressed umbrage over her works, which covered topics such as menstruation, masturbation, and bullying. 

Image courtesy of LIONSGATE

Blume, 85, a New Jersey native who has retired from writing and lives in Key West, Fla., with her husband, created a treasure trove of classics for youngsters who felt that someone understood and appreciated their feelings and fears. They saw themselves represented in the pages of her books “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” “Blubber,” “Tiger Eyes,” even the racy “Forever.” 

In the new documentary “Judy Blume Forever,” filmmakers and Stanford University graduates Leah Wolchok and Davina Pardo look fondly at Blume’s life and career. They speak with Blume herself, today’s adult novelists—many give her credit for paving their way— as well as famous folks such as actor-author Molly Ringwald of “The Breakfast Club” fame. 

The timing couldn’t be better for the Amazon Prime documentary, which details the brave author’s enormous contributions and her inspirational odyssey from being a stay-at-home mother to a literary sensation. 

Then, on April 28 comes the theatrical release of “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” a PG-13 film adaptation of Blume’s 1970 book about an 11-year-old who is adjusting to a new home and asking big questions. It stars Abby Ryder Fortson, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates. 

“Judy Blume Forever,” streaming starting Friday on Prime, makes an ideal companion to the feature film, being released exclusively in movie theaters.

On the film festival front, it’s the final week of the 66th San Francisco International Film Festival in San Francisco and Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Also, the 2023 San Francisco Greek Film Festival, on its 20th anniversary, runs Saturday through April 30 at the Delancey Street Screening Room, 600 The Embarcadero, San Francisco. It’s online as well. 

These Greek fest movies pique our interests: 

“Broadway” (7 p.m. Saturday): The opening night selection, an edgy award-winning first feature from director-screenwriter Christos Massalas, is set in Athens, in a community of pickpocketers living in a rundown theater. Trouble can’t help but follow them. The film screens with the 20-minute short “Not Tomorrow.” 

“Broadway” opens the San Francisco Greek Film Festival. (Courtesy Neda Film/Blue Monday/Digital Cube)

“Karagiozis The Movie” (2 p.m. Sunday): What’s being touted as the first CGI animation movie produced and created in Greece brings a popular shadow puppet hero into the modern age. It’s set in a small Greek village (and features some cute pink pigs). Executive producer Anastasia Manou is slated to attend. It screens with the four-minute short “Greek Enough.” 

“My People” (7 p.m. April 24): Director Anna Rezan explores her own family’s past as she illuminates what life was like for Greek Jews during the Holocaust. Rezan will be appearing for a Q&A afterward. The program also includes the 24-minute documentary “19.5.1919” about the genocide of the Pontian Greeks in 1919.  

“Lyvia’s House” (4 p.m. 28): Don’t expect to see Greece in director Niko Volonakis’ suspense drama, which is based on deadly crimes committed in Sutter County orchards and was filmed in the agricultural community of Nicolaus in Northern California. “Harlot’s Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss and Greece” author Patricia V. Davis wrote the screenplay about a journalist snooping around as she connects murders in the past to the vanishing of an artist. A Q&A with Volonakis and lead actor Joshua Malekos follows the screening. The program also includes the 24-minute short “To Read Them Poems” and the 15-minute “Fault.” 

“A Day in the Life of a Teddy Bear” (7 p.m. April 28): In a premise that “Before Sunrise” director Richard Linklater used to great effect, an encounter between two characters magnifies big and little issues. Director Vassilis Xiros’ film, set in Shanghai, finds a violinist Jinxi spending time with architect Panos, a Greek man new to the area. And yes, there is a teddy bear in the mix. A Q&A with the director follows the screening. It’s paired with the 15-minute short “Rallou At Home.”  

For tickets and additional information, visit 

The SFFILM festival wraps this week, but that doesn’t mean the flow of quality films is slowing. Here are a few worth catching: 

“My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock” (4 p.m. Friday at BAMPFA): In this innovative plunge into work by the master of the macabre, director Mark Cousins and impressionist Alastair McGowan give voice to the late director of “Rear Window,” “Psycho” and “Vertigo,” who describes how he made some of his classic thrillers; it’s a cinephile’s dream. And the day before, at 7 p.m. Thursday, the Scotland-based Cousins will be presented with SFFILM’s “Persistence of Vision Award” at BAMPFA. His 2022 documentary “The March on Rome,” which chronicles the rise of facism and how it reverberates today, screens as part of the awards presentation. 

“Rally” (5:30 p.m. Friday at CVG in San Francisco, noon Sunday at BAMPFA): Director Rooth Tang takes on a fiery, controversial and powerful voice from within the Bay Area’s Chinatown community. The late Rose Pak helped move the needle forward on the political careers of many notable civic leaders in San Francisco and beyond, but her methods didn’t always win so many fans. “Rally” serves up a fascinating slice of Bay Area history and brings to life an iconic figure.  

“Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie” (8:30 p.m. Friday at CGV): The much-loved actor describes with great candor and humor his fast-tracked film career, bouts with booze and how he learned to persevere after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Davis Guggenheim’s documentary breaks through the traditional format of film bio, offering an uplifting and kinetic film experience.  

“Ernest & Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia” (10 a.m., April 23 at CGV): Need something fun to do with the kids Sunday? Take them to see this animated sequel to the 2013 hit about the adventures of two trouble-prone friends, Celestine the mouse and Ernest the bear. In directors Julien Chheng and Jean-Christophe Roger’s sequel, also based on Gabrielle Vincent’s books, Ernest’s violin is broken and he brings along his buddy to his homeland only to discover that music is banned there. Talk about relevant.  

For more films and to order tickets, visit 

Over at the Rafael Film Center in San Rafael at 7 p.m. Thursday, Cody Two Bears of the Standing Rock Sioux and actor-activist Shailene Woodley will speak after a free community screening of “On Sacred Ground,” a 2023 dramatization about the disputed construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The film, which stars William Mapother, David Arquette, Amy Smart, Irene Bedard, Che Jim and others, is directed by Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell. Viewers must register for a ticket in advance, and seating is first come, first served. (In other words, get there early if you want to get a seat.) Visit

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