SERET UK to get up close and personal – online

“Normally we’d have a red carpet with lots of press and a big reception with cocktails. We’ll try to keep a bit of the flavor of that.”

EFRAT DOR and Tsahi Halevi in ‘Mossad.’  (photo credit: Courtesy)
EFRAT DOR and Tsahi Halevi in ‘Mossad.’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
“I can guarantee everyone front row seat,” said JW3 London CEO Raymond Simonson, about the SERET UK 2020 film festival, which will be streaming online this year from May 21 to May 30, with a special opening event on May 19.
Seret is the Hebrew word for movie, and the SERET International festival features the best of recent Israeli movies and television. It was founded in London by three Israeli women – Odelia Haroush, Anat Koren and Patty Hochmann – whom Simonson described as “forces of nature.” Over the past few years, it has expanded to Berlin, Amsterdam and Santiago, Chile.
This year, the London version of SERET, will be online, rather than taking place at the JW3, the Jewish Community Centre in London.
In a Zoom interview last week from his home office, which he described as “a corner of my bedroom,” Simonson, a glass-half-full kind of guy, listed some of the advantages of having a virtual festival: “No movies will be sold out, everyone can get a ticket. No worries about drinking and driving. You don’t need to get a babysitter.”
The opening event on Tuesday will be a conversation between Simonson and two of the biggest stars of Israeli cinema: Tsahi Halevi, who is best known internationally for Fauda and whose latest film, the comedy Mossad, by Alon Gur Arye, will be shown in SERET, and Nelly Tagar, the star of Talya Lavie’s hit film, Zero Motivation, whose new movie, Erez Tadmor’s The Art of Waiting, a dramedy about a couple undergoing fertility treatment, is also on the festival program. The online conversation with Simonson, Halevi and Tagar will take place Tuesday at 8 p.m. GMT and 10 p.m. in Israel. In addition to talking about their latest films, they will discuss the growth and future of Israeli film internationally.
Simonson said he would do his part to make it a festive opening.
“Normally we’d have a red carpet with lots of press and a big reception with cocktails,” he said. “We’ll try to keep a bit of the flavor of that.”
To that end, he has cleaned his fanciest duds and even ironed them, he said, adding, “I’ll make a cocktail, have my nibbles,” and encourages audiences at home to do the same.
The lineup for the Q & A sessions is quite star-studded, featuring most of the directors and actors whose films are in the festival. One advantage of the current situation is that, “We don’t have to persuade the stars and filmmakers to fly over, we get them from the comfort of their own homes, and of course they can’t very well say they have something else to do,” said Simonson.
While most of the online screenings will be available only to UK audiences, the Q & A sessions will be open to audiences all over the world. Further details are available on the festival website.
The festival has a mix of light- and dark-themed films. One of the most critically praised dramas on the program is Incitement, Yaron Zilberman’s portrait of Yitzhak Rabin’s tormented assassin, Yigal Amir, which takes a hard look at the political climate at the time of the murder. Incitement won the Ophir Award for Best Picture this year. Yehuda Nahari Halevi, the actor who has won acclaim for his breakthrough performance as Amir, will do a Q & A.
The Art of Waiting, a movie that struck a chord in Israel for its empathic and realistic portrayal of the pressure of infertility on a marriage, will have a Q & A with its director, Erez Tadmor, and his leading actors, Nelly Tagar and Roy Asaf.
Evgeny Ruman’s Golden Voices is an offbeat comedy-drama about a couple who were known as the “golden voices” of movie dubbing in the Soviet Union and who face a challenge about how to use their talent when they move to Israel.
Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive is a black comedy/romance about a Jerusalemite who becomes a tour guide to the sites of terror bombings that traumatized him and who eventually falls for a woman who takes life more lightly. Writer/director/star Yossi Atia and producer David Ofek will be online for a Q & A.
Tsahi Halevi, Israel’s rising comedy star, will do a Q & A following a screening of the broad comedy, Mossad, which takes its inspiration from the movies of David Zucker (Airplane!, The Naked Gun), who was a consultant on the film. Halevi also stars in All In, a comic look at four friends from high school who get together years later for a high-stakes poker tournament.
The documentary offerings are equally rich, and include Golda, an intimate look at Golda Meir by Sagi Bornstein, Udi Nir and Shani Rozanes; Barak Heymann’s Comrade Dov, a portrait of controversial Israeli politician Dov Khenin; Spotting Yossi, a portrait of singer Yossi Banai, by Kobi Farag and Morris Ben-Mayor; and The Rabbi from Hezbollah, a film by Itamar Chen that tells the incredible true story of a Lebanese Muslim with ties to Hezbollah who became an Israeli spy and is now an ultra-Orthodox Jew living in Israel.
“The SERET festival is a platform that reaches people from all over and brings them together, both Jews and non-Jews and puts a smile on their face,” said Simonson, noting that for many audience members, “SERET is their only real connection to Israel, so they are learning about the country through cinema.”
For the full program, visit the SERET website at and to participate in the opening event, go to