Gambling Mensch, a nine-minute film from San Francisco State University Student filmmaker Jason Zavaleta, was announced today as the winner of the Best Picture, of the The Student International Jewish Film Competition, The film will screen as part of the official The Student International Jewish Film Competition at USC in collaboration with Jewlicious.
The Student International Jewish Film Competition was organized by a USC Hillel, in partnership with Jewlicious, Tel Aviv University, Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at NYU, USC Initiative for Israel Arts and Humanities. Gambling Mensch is a documentary film focused on a young man’s quest to
uncover his Grandfather Herb’s addictive past and incredible transformation to the remarkable man who
“The quality and scope of entries surprised the organizers and the judges,” said Film Competition
Chairman, Michael Jeser. “These aspiring filmmakers prove that Jewish filmmaking has a robust future.
The winning entry was selected by a juries of experts from America and Israel; Mike Fink, Oscar Award
winner for visual effects in 2008 (“Golden Compass”) and credit on over thirty films (Tropic Thunder, XMen, Mars Attacks!, Braveheart, and Blade Runner); Barnet Kellman, Emmy Award winning producer/director (The Middle, Ally McBeal, Murphy Brown); Christopher Kaiser, President of the WGA
West, Writer and Producer (Party of Five); Robin Broidy, Producer (Snake and Mongoose, Mayhem); and
Jill Cutler, Hollywoodjournal.com
Jason Zavaleta’s asks, “How does one achieve “mensch-ness”? As my Grandfather Herb would have
said, “It’s not what you give from your pocket, it’s what you give from here [your heart]. Zaveta’s film is both personal and universal and “delves into the life of a Jewish family man who was lost in the material world but was redeemed by proving his love and commitment to family.”
In addition to Gambling Mesch runner up for best picture was Out of Hand, by Simon Fink of USC. Best
Animation went to Samurai Jew: The Eight Night by Nadav Nachman, of the Betzalel Academy of Art and
All finalist films, including Best, are available for immediate viewing at