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Kinky Boots gets my vote for the film with the best title in this year's British Film Festival. It's showing at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and is described as "a witty comedy as only the Brits know how to make." It's the story of a small-town young man who inherits his family's outmoded shoe factory after his father's sudden death. In London, he meets a transvestite cabaret singer (Chiwetel Ejiofor, from Dirty Pretty Things and Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda), who gives him the idea of manufacturing kinky boots that will appeal to the transvestite market. He heads back to his village with his new friend and business partner in tow.
But it's not the only movie in the festival with a funny title. There's also a short film, Cheese Makes You Dream, which sounds like a new Wallace & Gromit movie but is really the story of a pensioner who signs up with a match-making service. It's showing as part of a program of short British films at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m.
This year, the British festival features a couple of movies that will appeal to kids. On Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, you can see Nanny McPhee, which has been described as "Mary Poppins without the syrup." It stars Emma Thompson as the nanny and Colin Firth as the frustrated father of seven who needs to be rescued by her. Don't worry if you can't make it to this screening, though, the film will be released throughout Israel soon. The Magic Roundabout, which is showing at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, is a reworking of a classic Sixties British children's TV show about four friends - a cow, a snail, a rabbit and a dog - who fight an evil wizard. Computer graphics give this version a new look. It's followed by another fantasy film aimed at older kids, "The Mirrormask," at 5 p.m., which tells the story of a girl searching for a magic mask that will help her rescue the Queen of Light, and sounds very much in the tradition of such favorites as "The Wizard of Oz" and "Alice in Wonderland."
Bob Hoskins, the star of Mrs. Henderson Presents, will be on hand at the screening of that film at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Set during World War II, it tells the story of a war widow (Judi Dench), who has lost her son and turns her energies to producing nude burlesque reviews, with the help of a Jewish employee, played by Hoskins. It's directed by Stephen Frears, whose long and distinguished career includes such films as Dirty Pretty Things, My Beautiful Laundrette, Dangerous Liaisons, and High Fidelity. Frears also holds the distinction of being the only well-known filmmaker who had the guts to visit Israel in 2001 to attend the Jerusalem Film Festival. 2001 will not be remembered as a particularly good year for the city of Jerusalem, but thanks to Frears' presence, it was a good year for the Jerusalem Film Festival. Perhaps Frears himself had a hand in convincing Hoskins that a trip to Israel would be worthwhile. Hoskins is one of the most talented and versatile actors, working in both comedy and drama - his credits include Mona Lisa, Last Orders, Mermaids, The Long Good Friday and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - and his visit will be a treat for British film lovers here.
THE BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL will run this year from February 9-19 and though the complete program hasn't yet been announced, the partial lineup includes several Israeli films. This is the festival where, two years ago, Eytan Fox's Walk on Water was chosen to open the prestigious Panorama section. This year in Panorama, the drama Forgiveness, directed by Udi Alon and starring Moni Moshonov, will be shown. The documentary Panorama section includes Tomer Heymann's Paper Dolls, the story of a group of Filipino transvestite performers who came to Tel Aviv as foreign workers. Two short films by recent Sam Spiegel Film School graduates will also be shown. Talia Lavi's Soldier Girl starring Dana Ivgy, was shown at this year's Jerusalem Film Festival and will be part of the Panorama section. Zvia Barkai's Vika, the story of a girl at a boarding school who visits her mother, a Russian immigrant, will be shown in the Kinderfest section, a program of films about children. Even more Israeli films may make the cut once the full program is announced.