This year the UK International Jewish Film Festival will celebrate its
21st birthday with a diverse line-up of more than 70 feature and documentary
films and short films, from 9-26 November.
For over two decades the UKIJFF has blossomed into one of the nation’s most eagerly anticipated dates in the film calendar. This year’s coming-of-age programme will ensure it remains so with its most diverse programme yet, including world, European and UK premieres of the best new Israeli and Jewish cinema on offer to audiences.
Michael Etherton, Chief Executive says: “At the heart of this 21st anniversary Festival is a spirit of openness to fresh ideas, new creative talent, and to telling stories from unexpected places that challenge stereotypes and preconceptions. It’s this dynamism and openness that has helped UK Jewish Film reach more and more people year on year and over the last 12 months it has been our pleasure to welcome more than 28,000 attendees to our screenings and events. For this year’s Festival we are proud to bring to our diverse audiences 75 films from more than 20 countries at 115 screenings across London, Belfast, Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham.”
The UKIJFF is proud to announce this year’s Opening Night Gala will be the eagerly awaited premiere of An Act of Defiance, directed by Jean van de Velde, and held on Thursday 9 November at BFI Southbank. Set in South Africa, 1963, it is based on the true story of ten black and Jewish men who are arrested for conspiring against the Apartheid system. Led by fellow defendant Nelson Mandela, the group plead not guilty, which in turn highlights the corrupt political system in power. This riveting, taught drama captures a pivotal moment in the fight against racism and explores the role of South African Jews in making Apartheid history.
Further galas and premieres will include Ferenc Török’s 1945, a powerful and innovative study of a post-war, village community, which screened in the Official Selection at Berlin this year and is a likely contender for the Festival’s Best Film Award. The ramifications of WWII are felt in Sam Garbarski’s Bye Bye Germany – a hyperreal comedy set in Frankfurt, 1946 – and in a more contemporary setting for Menno Meyjes’s The Hero, a dark thriller by the co-writer of The Empire of the Sun.
New work from cinema veterans, such as Andrei Konchalovsky and Avi Nesher, will feature with Paradise and Past Life, respectively, while daring debuts are made with Yaniv Berman’s unsettling thriller Land of the Little People and Ofir Raul Grazier with the Cannes 2017 hit The Cakemaker.
A savvy selection of crowd-pleasers such as Shlomit Nehama and Emil Ben-Shimon’s The Women’s Balcony – the most commercially successful film to date in Israel – and Francesco Amato’s heart- warming comedy Let Yourself Go!, starring Toni Sevillo, will screen alongside Erez Tadmor’s social drama Home Port and Haim Tabaman’s (Eyes Wide Open) eagerly awaited Ewa.
This year’s documentary strand examines the life of the founder of the State of Israel with Ben Gurion, Epilogue, made from rediscovered footage of an exclusive interview. Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown is a timely portrait of the remarkable entertainer, while the surprising story of another Hollywood legend is revealed in Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story directed by Alexandra Dean and produced by Susan Sarandon.
Archive features, old and less so, will include a tribute to Oliver Sachs with Penny Marshall’s moving classic Awakenings; while the secret identity of a young Jewish woman in the mid-19th century is scrutinized in The Governess by Sandra Goldbacher. Mr Emmanuel is the only feature digitized by the BFI for a new project of Jewish archive films; filmed in 1944 it provides an insightful, historical document of British cinema when a Jewish man travels to Berlin.
In addition to the exciting showcase of Jewish focused films and TV in this year’s Festival, there will be a night of awards for Best Film, Best Debut, Audience Choice and now Best Screenplay. The Pears Short Film Fund returns for the 11th year and we will screen the 2017 winners The Master of York, by Kieron Quirke, and The Outer Circle by Adam Baroukh. Details of special guests will be announced shortly to complete what promises to be an audience-pleasing UKIJFF 21st birthday.