A vibrant, global celebration of Jewish culture, the UK Jewish Film Festival continues to grow from strength to strength each year.
Building on the success of last year’s Festival, which saw 15,000 visitors to over 120 screenings, the 19th UK Jewish Film Festival returns 7th-22ndNovember 2015 to enlighten, entertain and engage audiences both in London and key cities across the UK. The programme includes a wealth of must see titles, big stars, new talent to look out for, insightful documentaries and discovery titles that resonate with the wider current discussion about Jewish identity and culture worldwide. In recognition of this international diversity, the 2015 programme boasts films from over 15 countries, including representation from Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary India, Israel, Italy, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Romania, UK and USA.
The Festival includes comedies, romance, historical dramas, documentaries and shorts. The filmmakers tackle contemporary concerns with a range of themes on a global reach, featuring real and fictional characters who face challenging issues of immigration, sexism, exile, family, home, conflict, international and domestic politics as well as historical retellings, with stories set in the Second Lebanon War, The Holocaust, and Post-War Communist Europe and the historical fact of eye witness documentary accounts. Every title explores human relationships, their complexities and the connections of belonging, which enrich all our lives.
Confirmed venues for this year’s festival include BFI Southbank, Mayfair Hotel, JW3, Barbican Cinema, Regent Street Cinema, Odeon: Swiss Cottage, South Woodford, Muswell Hill, Wimbledon, Everyman Hampstead, Cine Lumiere and Phoenix East Finchley as well as Home andCineworld Didsbury in Manchester, Broadway in Nottingham and CCA in Glasgow.
The full 19th UK Jewish Film Festival line up, including details of UK premieres, news of special guests and events, and the Opening and Closing Galas will be announced in early September.
2015 Programme highlights include:
Son of Saul, Hungarian director László Nemes won the Grand Prix at Cannes for his masterful debut. Saul, a Hungarian Jewish member of the Sonderkommando, working in an unnamed death camp, discovers the body of a boy he takes for his son. He is determined to carry out his impossible deed: to salvage the body and ensure that he will receive a dignified, Jewish burial. Closer To The Moon, winner of 9 Romanian Film Awards stars Mark Strong and Vera Farmiga in an absurdist black comedy based on the incredible true story of a breath-taking Romanian bank heist by high-ranking Jewish communists posing as filmmakers.
Premiering at Sundance Experimenter boasts brilliant performances from Winona Ryder and Peter Sarsgaard in this fascinating, true-life story of Jewish psychologist Stanley Milgram, and his groundbreaking 1961 Yale conducted ‘obedience experiments’ which became a worldwide sensation. I Smile Backsees US stand up comedian Sarah Silverman deliver a blisteringly authentic performance as a woman struggling to cope with her picture-perfect suburban life whilst afflicted by depression and drug and alcohol addiction.
Dégradé is the ambitious first feature by Palestinian directors, twin brothers Arab and Tarzan Nasser, starring Hiam Abbass and set in a beauty salon in the Gaza Strip. Following an incident, a group of women seek safety in the salon. As they share their stories old tensions unravel and their place of refuge becomes a prison. The Law, Christian Faure’s biopic of Simone Veil, starring Emmanuelle Devos, traces the French health minister and Holocaust survivor’s courageous fight to legalise abortion in France. One of the few women in Jaques Chirac’s government, Simone Veil’s story is an exploration of sexism and anti-Semitism in post-war French society.
Set to be the guilty pleasure of this year’s festival, The Last Five Years is based on the hit musical by Tony award-winning composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown. Described by the Jewish Chronicle as “the first film to feature a singing Jewish protagonist since Yentl”, this fresh and charming New York tale told in song follows a struggling actress (Anna Kendrick) and her novelist boyfriend (Jeremy Jordan), both recalling the rise and fall of their love affair.
A special screening of Sufragette, follows hot on the heels from the world premiere at the London Film Festival. British-Jewish director Sarah Gavron’s thrilling drama features a stellar cast; Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan and Helen Bonham-Carter, following the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement who were willing to lose everything in their fight for equal rights. London’s criminal underbelly and Haredi Jewish community collide in Orthodox, the dark, stylish debut feature from actor turned director/writer David Leon. The film features an electrifying performance from Stephen Graham as Ben, a struggling kosher butcher by day and a successful backstreet boxer by night, who’s financial worries force him to resort to desperate and dangerous measures. Jonathan Pryce, Pauline Collins and Ian Hart star in Dough, a comedy drama about a Jewish baker whose failing business gets an unexpected boost from his young Muslim apprentice. The film screens in memory of Scriptwriter Jez Freedman, a friend of the Festival, whom sadly passed away earlier this year.
The latest Edge-of-your-seat TV thriller
Having showcased the best of Israeli television in recent years, the festival is delighted to screen the entire series of Fauda, a stunning new series that has garnered critical acclaim and thrilled audiences in equal measure. Israeli television series have found international success and a huge following, with both the original versions of Hostages (remade in the US with Toni Colette) and Prisoners of War (remade as the award-winning Homeland). Fauda (chaos in Arabic) is the story of Mista’arvim, an undercover unit which blends into the Palestinian community to avert terrorist attacks. The series co-created by Middle East analyst Avi Issacharoff and former Israeli soldier Lior Raz has been widely acknowledged for its brilliantly realized representation of both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, drawing on their own in-depth experience in order to craft a heart-stopping thriller, which effortlessly blends high tension and drama and breakneck twists and turns
Contemporary Israeli Cinema.
Kindergarten Teacher, Nadav’s Lapid second feature film following on his fantastic debut ‘Policeman. Premiered at Cannes and won awards around the world, called by the Guardian ‘one of the most fascinating films of the year’. Apples From the Desert, nominated for 3 Israeli Academy Awards and adapted from the much-loved book, is a timeless and moving tale of a beautiful Orthodox girl who breaks away from tradition and falls in love with a secular boy. The Farewell Party, winner of the audience award at the Venice Film Festival and winner of 4 Israeli Academy Awards is a compassionate comedy about a group of friends in a retirement home, rallying together for a friend. JeruZalem, which won the audience award at the Jerusalem Film Festival, is the latest title from Israel’s burgeoning horror scene. The film tells the apocalyptic nightmare for 3 American tourists who find themselves trapped in the old city of Jerusalem on the Day of Atonement, when Yom Kippur brings death, destruction and dark angels. Princess, winner of both Best Feature and Best Actress at the Jerusalem Film Festival and officially selected for Sundance, captures the vulnerability and confusion of female teenage sexuality in this engrossing, and painfully well-observed psychological drama. In Manpower, a Tel Aviv policeman is driven to breaking point as money grows tight, and he is forced to take part in a controversial, citywide crackdown on immigration. A moving story of interweaving narratives, Manpower portrays the challenges of making a home in a new land with clarity and sympathy. Aka Nadia is a highly original, dark tale of a Palestinian woman leading a double life of deception over the course of 20 years.
With an estimated 200,000 new work immigrants in Israel, and the implication that this has on the changing state of the Jewish nation, Hotline offers an eye-opening look at what is often a contentious and controversial subject, by focusing on the dozen employees of a hotline centre, who assist newly arrived migrants from countries like Eritrea, Sudan and Ghana. Sacred Sperm, Ori Gruder’s sensitive doc, opens a rare window onto the taboos of sex and masturbation in the Orthodox Jewish community. Told with humour and biting honesty, Look at Us Now, Mother! is an intimate story of family dysfunction, forgiveness and healing between a daughter and her outspoken, fearless mother, filled with emotion, tears and laughter in equal measure. The Creative Life is a personal, hilarious and heartfelt road trip about becoming a Jewish parent by award-winning director Josh Appignanesi (The Infidel). Partner With The Enemy and Women in Sink are two incredible documentaries (screened together) that show that friendships and partnerships between Israelis and Arabs are possible, and that women and mothers can present a very different perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Guardian writer Hadley Freeman also introduces a special screening of Crossing Delancey, her favourite Jewish film. Starring Amy Irving, as the happy singleton whose grandmother is determined to find her a love match, this classic romantic comedy is as relevant today as ever. Hadley will discuss the film’s charms, which features in her latest book, ‘Life Moves Pretty Fast’ looking at the formative role 80s films have had on her life.