Chasing the Grail

An unusual search for identity by a Jewish filmmaker from San Francisco. A quest for self in the United States and in Israel is mediated by a Palestinian woman who narrates his story.
Identity, its definitions, and implications, are recurring themes in Daniel Robin's films. As a Jewish filmmaker, Daniel addresses the ambiguities and contradictions connected to his culture, religion, and people. Growing up the son of a Rabbi in rural Bakersfield, California, where there is no Jewish community, feelings of isolation and experiences of anti-Semitism created an intense awareness of his own Jewish identity. School-yard fist fights in response to anti-Semitic peers laid the fertile ground that helped to create his attraction to Jews defending themselves and reject the stigma of the "passive Jew." In 1992, while attending San Francisco State University Film School, Daniel made his first journey to Israel to make a film that would explore his precarious relationship with the Zionist state. "Chasing the Grail" is a map of Daniel's progressive unconditional bond with Israel and his attempt to deconstruct this relationship with the Jewish homeland. "Chasing the Grail" is at once an elusive search for Jewish identity, and a lament on the contradiction of empowered Israeli Jews becoming both occupier and persecutors. Daniel's next film, "Matzo Balls and Black-eyed Peas," explores his relationship with his African-American girlfriend. The film, which shows the coming together of two individuals, both from oppressed people, and how they perceive themselves, created a dialogue within the Jewish community as well as the Black community. --------------
Filmography: -------------- THE VALET CHRONICLES 2001 began as a vehicle to show "The Valet Chronicles", my neighborhood installment which is a quadrant of four corners in North Beach, San Francisco. The short, serialized format(3-4 minute weekly episodes) allows me and future neighborhoodfilms participants to create a mosaic of lives and stories that encourages viewers to come back and see how the episodes, like flowers, open up to reveal the people within. "The Valet Chronicles" is loose model of what future installments will be like. Individual filmmakers will show their perspective of their neighborhood. They will shoot, edit, and upload their own episodes under the umbrella of THE BIG CHARADE 1997 75 minutes, B/W, 16 mm Co-director, writer, photographer and editor with Jonathan Sanford. Produced by Gabriel Guzmán. Max and Sarah, a young American couple playing out their gangster fantasy in Colombia (South America), cannot confront their dying love. A bungled job worsens the adventure, and they drift further in silent denial-Sarah assumes another identity while Max clings harder to the fantasy. A "chorus" of Colombian onlookers gossip about their story, giving dramatic explanations for what is really a stagnant love. Screenings: South by Southwest Film Festival; Bogota Film Festival, including a tour throughout Colombia; Big Muddy Film Festival; Kentucky Film Festival; Philadelphia Film Festival MATZO BALLS AND BLACKEYED PEAS 1994 25 minutes, color, 16 mm Director, writer, photographer, editor and producer An intimate view of the interracial relationship between the Jewish filmmaker and his African American girlfriend is revealed through self-reflection and a series of interviews with close friends. Screenings: Sundance Film Festival; San Francisco Jewish Film Festival; London Jewish Film Festival (included a tour throughout England); Sweden Jewish Film Festival; Fresno Jewish Film Festival (an evening showcasing the work of Daniel Robin); Black International Cinema (Berlin); Living Room Festival on KQED; Stanford University National Jewish Film Symposium; Film Arts Festival; aired on KTEH Free Speech Television Awards: Judah Magnes Jewish Video Competition award winner; Film Art Foundation grant CHASING THE GRAIL 1992 22 minutes, color and B/W, 16 mm Director, writer, photographer, editor and producer By reconstructing the filmmaker's childhood in rural Bakersfield, California, where he was the son of a Rabbi and in a virtually non-existent Jewish community, the film moves into an introspective, yet ambiguous search to define his relationship with his religion and the State of Israel. The result is a cinematic journey through the heterogeneous Zionist nation. Screenings: Cork International Film Festival (Ireland); Atlanta Image Film Festival; Ann Arbor Film Festival; San Francisco Jewish Film Festival; WYBE Philadelphia Public Television's "Through the Lens" series; Stanford University National Jewish Film Symposium; Film Arts Festival; Fresno Jewish Film Festival; Utah Film Front; Baltimore Film Forum Awards: Dorey Schary Award (Anti-Defamation League) finalist; Honorable Mention, Atlanta Image 122 WEBSTER 1990 12 minutes, B/W, 16 mm Director, writer, photographer, editor and producer A stark and unsettling portrait of the filmmaker's heroin-addicted roommate, who is an accomplished photographer, which neither condones nor condemns his habit, but instead objectively presents it as a way of life. Screenings: Sundance Film Festival; national tour with 1995 Lalapalooza Music Festival; Cork International Film Festival (Ireland); Ann Arbor Film Festival; Humboldt International Film Festival; Big Muddy Film Festival; Film Arts Festival; San Francisco State University Film Finals Education: SAN FRANCISCO STATE Bachelor of Arts in 16 mm Film Production, 1992 Cum Laude
Release Year
Festival Year(s)
Running Time