Celebrating its 21st year screening movies that depict the global Jewish experience as a way to promote understanding and celebrate diversity, the Maine Jewish Film Festival kicks off Saturday, March 10, with the German dramedy “Bye Bye Germany” (2017, Germany/Luxembourg/Belgium) at Portland’s Nickelodeon Cinemas.

Programming for the eight-day festival includes more than 30 films, screened in Portland, Brunswick, Lewiston, Waterville, Bangor and Rockland. Film subjects focus upon immigration, music and dance, visual arts, women and gay rights, intergenerational relationships, comedy, fashion, food and foreign language.

“As the only statewide film festival film in Maine, we’re excited to continue our growth while entertaining and educating movie lovers of all backgrounds," said MJFF Executive Director Barbara Merson. “In 2017, over half of our Festival audience identified as being non-Jewish, which encourages us to screen topical films ranging from universal themes to art films.”

Notable highlights for 2018 include a screening of “West Side Story” (1961, USA) on the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's birth; a star-studded tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.; the surprising history of Hollywood bombshell Hedy Lamar; a profile of social activist Heather Booth; an intimate look at the larger-than-life persona of comedian Gilbert Gottfried; and a behind the scenes look at the creation of the children's classic "Curious George."

The latter is one of two films that will be screened at Rockland’s downtown Strand Theatre, which, for the first, time, will be a MJFF satellite site for a full weekend. On Saturday, March 17, at 7 p.m., MJFF will show  “An Act of Defiance” (2017, South Africa/The Netherlands) at the Strand. On Sunday, March 18, at 2:30 p.m., MJFF will screen “Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators” (USA) at the Strand.

Tickets for regular festival screenings are $10, $8 for students and senior citizens, in advance via mjff.org; they will be $12/$10 at the door. A complete festival schedule including featured guest speakers, panelists and special forums can be found on the website.