Mike Tsenti

10 films to see at the 2016 UK Jewish Film Festival

A Cannes-winning drama and a tribute to Nora Ephron are among the highlights at the 20th UKJFF.

With a total of 80 movies showing at this year’s UK International Jewish Film Festival you might find it a hard task simply choosing what to see. Fortunately, we’ve put together a list of 10 gems screening during the festival, which runs 5-20 November at venues across the UK, showcasing a wide variety of new features, documentaries and shorts.

1. Lamb

Already making a splash as the first Ethiopian film to be selected for the Cannes Film Festival, Lamb is a beautiful story about the emotional connection between a boy and his pet lamb. When Ephraim’s (Rediat Amare) mother dies and his father needs to find work he is sent to live with relatives on their farmland. Here he forms a friendship with a lamb, only to be told by his uncle that it will need to be sacrificed for a religious feast. Director Yared Zeleke’s insightful look into the culture of his homeland is well worth catching. Book tickets

2. Keep Quiet

Here’s the story of Hungarian politician Czanad Szegedi, an antisemite and Holocaust denier who became the Vice President of Jobbik, Hungary’s far-right party. After discovering his grandparents were in fact Jewish and his grandmother a Holocaust survivor, he looks to better himself and learn and understand his newfound religion. Directors Sam Blair and Joseph Martin made this documentary over the three years Szegedi spent changing his ways. But it raises the question: does he actually hold any guilt or is it all an act? Book tickets

3. The Last Laugh

Can a joke be made about one of the worst events in history? Director Ferne Pearlstein asks the question in her new documentary, The Last Laugh. Featuring the likes of Mel Brooks, Gilbert Gottfried and Sacha Baron Cohen, the film examines the different ways comedians have used controversial jokes to discuss the Holocaust and antisemitism. Also featuring Holocaust survivors giving their feelings on the subject, Pearlstein’s thought-provoking film raises questions about the boundaries of comedy and how audiences can be offended in different ways. Book tickets

4. One Week and a Day

Well-received at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, this is a heart wrenching film with a humorous edge from first-time director Asaph Polansky. Following the shiva (a week of mourning after the funeral) of their only son, parents Eyal and Vicky struggle to return to their daily lives. Vicky sticks to her routine where as Eyal decides to get high with the neighbour’s son using his son’s medical cannabis. Perfect if you like your stoner movies to come with plenty of heart. Book tickets

5. Everything is Copy

This documentary focuses on the writer and filmmaker Nora Ephron (When Harry met Sally…) who sadly passed away in 2012. Directed by her son, Jacob Bernstein, it chronicles his mother’s life and the way in which she made her movies and writings deeply personal, while also shedding new light on Ephron herself. A lovely tribute and an excellent introduction for anyone not so familiar with Ephron’s work. Book tickets

6. Baba Joon

With three awards from the Ophir Awards (the Israeli equivalent of the Oscars) including Best Picture, Baba Joon is a moving story about changing traditions within families. The son of a turkey farmer has a passion for motor cars and building them but his father wants him to work on the farm like his father made him. When the young boy’s uncle visits from America and encourages him to pursue his dream, the father-son relationship is shaken. A semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story by first-time director Yuval Delshad, this one is sure to tug on the heart strings. Book tickets

7. For the Love of Spock

Leonard Nimoy will be remembered for his portrayal as the half human/half vulcan Spock from the Star Trek series. Directed by Nimoy’s son, Adam, this film arrives at the perfect time, with Star Trek celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It focuses on the early part of Nimoy’s career and subsequent success of the original Star Trek series. With tributes from former cast members and the team behind the recent Star Trek movies, this intimate documentary shows how Nimoy helped create a timeless character that continues to inspire. Book tickets

8. Primary Colors (1998)

On the eve of the US Presidential Election, the UKJFF will present a collection of films focusing on American politics, and what better way to start then with Mike Nichols’ hilarious 1998 film. Set in 1992 and “not” based on the Clintons, it follows the Stantons (John Travolta and Emma Thompson) as they embark on a campaign trail around America. If you’re looking to get in the mood for one of the craziest elections in recent years, make sure to catch this sharp political satire. Book tickets

9. Forever Pure

A powerful sports documentary showing how one of the biggest football teams in Israel, Beitar Yerushalayim, became a magnet for xenophobia and racism. A fanbase consisting of Jews originating from Arab countries, the signing of two Muslim players from Chechnya caused unrest and hatred to develop. From shouting racist slurs at the two players to booing the team as they emerged from the tunnel, Forever Pure is an insight look at the connection between football, politics and money. Book tickets

10. Beyond the Mountains and Hills

After serving for 27 years, Lieutenant Colonel David Greenbaum is discharged and heads home to his family. Feeling more like an outsider than a family man, Greenbaum tries working as a salesman but things don’t turn out quite how he wanted them to. This third film by director Elan Kollrin was nominated in the Un Certain Regard prize in Cannes. A compelling family drama showing a family going through a crisis. Book tickets

The 20th UK International Jewish Film Festival runs 5-20 November. Check out the full programme at ukjewishfilm.org

Published 5 Oct 2016

Tags: Asaph Polansky Czanad Szegedi Elan Kollrin Jewish Film Joseph Martin Mel Brooks Nora Ephron Sam Blair Yared Zeleke Yuval Delshad

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