It's that time of year again – when cinemagoers get the chance to see the best new Jewish movies from all around the world. Yes, it's the UK Jewish Film Festival, which runs from November 5 – 17 – and this year there are some real gems in the line-up. But which are the must-sees? Caroline Westbrook picks the best of the bunch.
Live and Become – Opening Night Film
This powerful drama focuses on an Ethiopian woman who forces her nine-year-old son to declare himself Jewish in order to be included in Operation Moses, the mission Israel staged to rescue Ethiopian Jews
from the famine in the 80s. He is adopted by a Jewish family, but is haunted by the fear that his secret will be discovered – and dreams of being reunited with his real mother.
No Cert. In Hebrew and French with English subtitles. Showing Wednesday November 2 at the Vue Cinema, Leicester Square, at 8pm (reception in the cinema bar at 7pm). Also showing Tuesday 8 November at the Screen On The Hill at 1.30pm, and The Gate, Notting Hill, on Saturday 12 November at 6pm
Everything Is Illuminated
Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, this quirky comedy-drama stars Elijah Wood as Jonathan, a young Jewish man who travels to a remote part of Ukraine to track down the woman who he believes saved his grandfather from the Nazis. His guides on this road trip are a curmudgeonly old man who claims to be blind (despite doing the driving) and his grandson (played by newcomer Eugene Hutz), whose knowledge of English is suspect. The directorial debut of actor Liev Schreiber, it's a visually stunning film which, like the book on which it's based, manages to combine hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy with powerful dramatic storytelling. One of the genuine must-sees of the festival – it's out in cinemas on 25 November but catch it at the festival if you can.
Cert 12A. Some Russian dialogue with subtitles. Showing Saturday 5 November at the Screen On The Hill, at 6.30pm (reception at the cinema at 6.15pm)
In Her Shoes
Based on the novel by Jewish author Jennifer Weiner, this chick flick stars Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Hollywood legend Shirley Maclaine. It's the story of two sisters, Maggie and Rose Feller, who couldn't be more different – Maggie is a free-spirited party girl, while Rose is a hard-working, but shy and retiring, lawyer. After the pair fall out, they lose contact with each other – until, that is, their long lost grandmother appears on the scene.
Cert 12A. Showing Saturday 5 November at the Screen On The Hill, at 9pm (reception in the cinema at 8.30pm)
Go For Zucker
A huge hit in its native Germany, this comedy is about two Jewish brothers – one Orthodox, one secular – who have nothing in common. However, when their mother dies, they are forced to settle their differences in order to inherit the money she has left them.
No cert. German dialogue with subtitles. Showing Thursday 10 November at the Screen On The Hill, at 6.40pm (reception at the cinema at 6.25pm)
This documentary follows a filmmaker, Pearl Gluck, as she travels from Brooklyn to Hungary to retrieve a couch that is a family heirloom. On her travels she visits a number of diverse communities – from the Hasidic communities in Brooklyn through to Holocaust survivors and ex-Communists in Hungary.
No cert. Showing Tuesday 8 November at the Screen On The Hill, at 4.15pm
When Do We Eat?
This manic comedy is receiving its UK premiere at the film festival. It focuses on a dysfunctional family's Passover Seder – which takes a turn for the worse after the family patriarch accidentally ingests Ecstascy during the service. From then things spin even further out of control after he begins having bizarre hallucinations and his behaviour grows ever more erratic.
No Cert. Showing Wednesday 9 November at the Screen On The Hill, at 7.15pm
For details of other films showing and other venues, please visit the official festival website: http://www.ukjewishfilmfestival.org.uk/
For further information and to book tickets for the Screen On The Hill, call the box office on 020 7435 3366. To book tickets for screenings at The Gate, call the box office on 08707 55 00 63. For tickets for the Opening Night Gala on 13 October, call the Vue Cinema box office on 01273 735522.
Please note, children under 16 will not be admitted to films or documentaries except where stated – please visit the official festival website for details of events open to under-16s.
Certain films will be showing at venues around the country from 27 November to the end of March 2006 – for further information visit the website.