The British Film Festival is back, running from February 4-12 at the Haifa,
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv cinematheques. It will showcase 10 new films that run the
gamut from new takes on the classics to contemporary thrillers to
It’s a welcome return for the popular festival, which was
established a little over a decade ago but has been on hiatus for the past two
years. The festival is the flagship project of the British Council, which
promotes cultural cooperation between Britain and Israel.
Dr. Simon Kay,
CEO of the British Council in Israel, says, “We are proud to bring the Israeli
public the best of contemporary British cinema as part of our activities to
promote mutual exchange of work between the UK and Israel. The films shown are
the most talked-about films produced in Britain last year – most of the artists
belong to the new generation of British cinema – and through them I get a
fascinating picture of contemporary British society. The festival will be
another channel to promote a new film agreement between Israel and the United
Kingdom that allows co-productions, and we hope it will strengthen the creative
and professional links between the two countries.”
The festival, which is
programmed by British Council Arts Director Naomi Michaeli, also features live
music and lectures on cinema. The weekend before the opening of the festival, on
January 27, musician James Blake will DJ a party in Tel Aviv.
movie is Andrea Arnold’s new version of Wuthering Heights. It’s a reworking of
the beloved Emily Bronte classic, which is meant to shock its audiences as the
original book scandalized readers.
Heathcliff is not a Gypsy but a
runaway slave from the Caribbean, who uses profanity and fights back when he is
called by a racial slur.
Viewers who remember earlier screen versions,
notably the Merle Oberon- Laurence Olivier 1939 film directed by William Wyler,
should be warned – this isn’t your grandmother’s Wuthering Heights. Arnold is
known for her gritty, realistic films Fish Tank and Red Road.
Fiennes – you known him as the lead in The English Patient, but to your kids,
he’s Voldemort from the Harry Potter movies – has made his directing debut
helming the dark Shakespeare tragedy Coriolanus. He has updated the setting from
ancient Rome to contemporary Eastern Europe, and the film features gun battles
and other scenes of street violence. It stars Fiennes and Gerard Butler (300)
and, in supporting roles, Israeli-Arab actor Ashraf Barhom (Paradise Now, The
Kingdom and Clash of the Titans) and Belgian actress Lubna Azabal, who appeared
in the Israeli film Strangers.
Another well-known British actor, Paddy
Considine, is making his directorial debut in the festival with the feature film
Tyrannosaur, which he also wrote. It stars Peter Mullan as a man plagued by
violent outbursts, and Olivia Colman as a Christian charity-shop worker who
comes into his life. The film won the Directing Award and the Special Jury Prize
at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Considine also stars in Submarine,
a quirky, coming-of-age comedy-drama about a precocious boy in Wales in the 1980s
who tries to save his parents’ faltering marriage. The movie also stars Sally
Hawkins (Made in Dagenham) and Noah Taylor (Shine).
Perfect Sense is an
unusual combination of a science-fiction film and a romance. Directed by David
Mackenzie, an acclaimed filmmaker who has made such films as Young Adam, it
stars Ewan McGregor (Beginners, The Ghostwriter) and Eva Green (a Bond girl in
It is set during a plague that attacks all the senses but
touch. Green plays a scientist who begins an intense affair with a chef
The Bengali Detective is a documentary about a Kolkata
private eye who is obsessed with dance, devoted to his ailing wife and fighting
an uphill battle against crime. The film, which has received rave reviews, is
being remade as a feature film, which is quite unusual for a
The closing film in this eclectic festival will be Shame,
directed by British filmmaker Steve McQueen. It stars Michael Fassbender as a
loner in New York with a voracious sexual appetite whose life is turned upside
down when his sister (Carey Mulligan) arrives for a visit.
Both Shame and
Wuthering Heights will be released in Israel commercially after the
For details, check the cinematheque websites.