It’s that time of year again – when the best new Jewish movies from around the world take their place in the line-up for the UK Jewish Film Festival. This year it runs from November 4 - 16 – but which of the many films on other are worth checking out? Caroline Westbrook runs through the highlights:
Sixty Six – Special Preview Screening
Before the actual festival kicks off on November 4, there’s a chance to catch a preview of this charming British-Jewish comedy drama, which opens across the UK on November 3. Set in the summer of 1966, it tells the story of Bernie, a 12-year-old boy who has his heart set on a lavish Barmitzvah party – until he discovers that the festivities fall on the same day as the 1966 World Cup Final. As England make their progress through the qualifying rounds, Bernie is the only person in the whole country who is praying for them to lose before the final. Meanwhile, all is not well in his family as his father’s business comes under threat. A funny, feelgood coming of age film which rarely resorts to stereotypes (with the possible exception of the Rabbi) but instead pokes gentle fun at Jewish quirks and behaviour, and more often than not hits the mark. There’s also impressive performances from Helena Bonham-Carter, comedian Catherine Tate, and newcomer Gregg Sulkin as the unfortunate Barmitzvah boy.
Cert 12A. Showing Wednesday 3 November at the Curzon Mayfair at 8.15pm (reception 7pm)
Three Mothers – Opening Night Film
This year’s festival opens with this Israeli production, which follows the lives of Egyptian-Jewish triplets living together in an apartment in Israel. Rose, a singer, dreams of making a comeback, midwife Flora has just retired, while the third sister Yasmin needs a kidney transplant. But as well as facing up to problems in their present, they also have to come to terms with secrets from their past – which they aim to do with the help of Rose’s only daughter.
No cert. In Hebrew, French and Arabic with English subtitles. Showing Saturday 4 November at the Screen On The Hill, Belsize Park at 6.55pm (reception 6.30pm) Also showing Monday 4 November at the Screen On The Hill (3pm), Sunday 12 November at the Richmond Filmhouse (2pm) and Wednesday 15 November at the Odeon South Woodford (8pm)
This ensemble drama follows the lives of five people whose lives intertwine over a single day in New York City. Photographer Isabel is getting cold feet over her forthcoming wedding to Jewish lawyer Jonathan, while her mother Diana receives some news which forces her to rethink her own marriage. Also involved in the story are Alec, a young actor, and Peter, a Vanity Fair journalist who makes a startling discovery about Isabel’s fiance. Glenn Close and George Segal (who shows up as a rabbi counselling the soon-to-be-married couple) are among the cast.
No cert. Showing Saturday 4 November at the Screen On The Hill, at 9.30pm (reception in the cinema at 9pm). Also showing on Wednesday 8 November at 1pm
Natalie Portman heads the cast of this Israeli-set drama as Rebecca, a young woman who becomes caught up in some mysterious events on the Israel-Jordan border after becoming inadvertently involved with a local doing a shady business deal.
No cert. Some Hebrew dialogue with English subtitles. Showing Monday 6 November at the Screen on the Hill at 9pm. Also showing on Thursday 9 November at 2pm.
The latest film from controversial director Paul Verhoeven (who made Robocop and Showgirls), Black Book tells the story of Rachel Stein, a young Jewish woman who flees the Nazis during World War II and joins the underground resistance. The film opens in UK cinemas in January, but here’s your chance to see a sneak preview.
No cert. Showing Saturday 11 November at the Screen On The Hill, at 8.45pm
Glow Ropes: The Rise And Fall Of A Barmitzvah Emcee
This mock documentary pokes fun at the process of organising a barmitzvah parties, with increasingly over-the-top goings-on as families try and outdo each other in the party stakes.
No Cert. Showing Tuesday 7 November at the Screen On The Hill at 4pm, and Sunday 12 November at the Odeon South Woodford, at 8pm
Family Law – Closing Night Gala
The latest film from Argentinian director Daniel Burman, whose previous effort Lost Embrace was released in UK cinemas earlier this year. It’s the story of father and son lawyers who work in very different fields but who become closer after some life-changing events.
No Cert. Showing Thursday 9 November at the Screen On The Hill at 7.15pm (reception in the cinema at 6.50pm), Sunday 12 November at the Ritzy Brixton at 7pm, and Wednesday 15 November at the Richmond Filmhouse at 8.30pm.
For more information: www.ukjewishfilmfestival.org.uk