Eleven years ago, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) debuted with 24 films and attracted 2,000 viewers. By 2010, the AJFF was screening more than 50 films and attracting more than 20,000 people to its three venues (Lefont Sandy Springs, Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station Stadium 16 and Regal Cinemas Medlock Crossing Stadium 18). This year, the festival expands again, with a full 20-day schedule, running Feb. 8-27, and a new venue in Marietta — GTC Merchants Walk 12 Cinema.

“After record attendance at our 10th anniversary festival, we recognized the time had come to scale up AJFF for a new decade,” stated AJFF Executive Director Kenny Blank. “This expansion of dates and venues will translate to richer programming, increased access and an improved festival experience for patrons.”

The AJFF is the largest film festival in Atlanta and the second-largest Jewish film festival in America. It is sponsored by the Atlanta Chapter of the American Jewish Committee, an international advocacy organization that believes that understanding grows out of shared experiences, and that stories are often the best way to create such experiences.  The rich narratives found in the festival’s films create a forum for cinematic storytellers, who represent voices from several countries and many religious viewpoints.

“I’ve been trying to program a film festival that defies people’s expectation of what a Jewish film festival is,” Blank told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year. “It’s not [just] Holocaust films or films about the Palestinian conflict. We wanted to surprise and delight people with the diversity of offerings and have it be a way for the larger community to experience first-class film.” The 2011 schedule includes cutting-edge works as well as classics such as The Diary of Anne Frank and Chariots of Fire.