Coming to a cinematheque near you

Comedy, drama, docus, sci-fi and Monty Python are featured in this year’s British Film Festival.

Coming to a cinematheque near you (photo credit: Courtesy)
Coming to a cinematheque near you
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There will be a lot of laughs, as well as some gritty drama, at this year’s British Film Festival, which opens at cinematheques on January 31 and runs until mid- February. The participating cinematheques are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sderot, Rosh Pina, Herzliya and Holon.
The opening film is Seven Psychopaths, a movie The New York Times described as “filled with clever jokes and observations that stick like barbs . . . It’s a leisurely riff about movies, violence, storytelling and the art of the steal.” Written and directed by Martin McDonough, it stars Colin Farrell as a struggling screenwriter in Los Angeles who gets into trouble after his strange friends kidnap a gangster’s pet lapdog. The all-star cast includes Christopher Walken, Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man, Boardwalk Empire), Sam Rockwell (Cowboys & Aliens) and Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire). Woody Harrelson plays the gangster.
The Monty Python gang is another focus of the festival. Serious Python fans will want to see A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. This animated film is based on the late Graham Chapman’s autobiography (which, oddly, was co-authored with David Sherlock, Alex Martin, Douglas Adams and David A. Yallop). The film was directed by Bill Jones, the son of Monty Python’s Terry Jones. All you really need to know about it is that it features Cameron Diaz as the voice of Sigmund Freud. Two of the film’s codirectors, Jeff Simpson and Ben Timlett, will attend the festival.
Other Monty Python films will be featured in the festival, including Life of Brian and Holy Flying Circus, a 2011 film directed by Owen Harris that dramatizes the struggle the Monty Python crew faced when religious groups protested Life of Brian.
One of the directors attending this year’s British Film Festival, Tom Shkolnik, director the documentary style The Comedian, is actually an Israeli living in London. Inspired by the films of John Cassavetes, The Comedian is an improvised look at the rootless lives of aspiring performers.
James Marsh, who won an Oscar for his documentary Man on Wire, will be at the festival to present Shadow Dancer, his latest film. This haunting drama stars Clive Owen as a British agent who intimidates and recruits a young Irish woman to spy on her brothers for the English government. This tense, suspenseful drama will be one of the festival’s high points.
Another film set in Northern Ireland is Good Vibrations. Directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn, Good Vibrations dramatizes the life of Terri Hooley, the founder of a famous record store that jump started the Belfast punk-music scene in the 1970s. The directors, along with David Holmes, who created the film’s soundtrack, will attend the festival.
Steve Oram, the star and coscreenwriter of The Sightseers, will be here as well. The Sightseers is a comedy about a couple’s dream vacation that turns into a nightmare.
The festival will feature a selection of short films that have won BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards, and producer Will Massa will be on hand to represent these filmmakers.
The festival will also include a film chosen by the British ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould. He has selected Lindsay Anderson’s 1968 film If, an allegory about politics and the class system set in a boarding school in England.
Other movies in this year’s festival include the acclaimed drama Broken, directed by Rufus Norris. Starring Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy, the film is loosely based on the novel To Kill a Mockingbird and tells the story of a young girl who observes all kinds of intense dramas up and down her street.
Jon Wright’s Grabbers is a science-fiction comedy in the tradition of Shaun of the Dead, set in a small Irish fishing village.
Rowan Athale’s Wasteland is a drama that follows a wrongly imprisoned man and shows the circumstances that led up to his arrest.iLL Manors is a highly anticipated film by pioneering British music artist Ben Drew (aka Plan B). Set on London’s mean streets with music by Plan B, it tells the intersecting stories of drug dealers and their friends.
There is more information about the festival available on the British Council’s website at