UK Jewish film festival kicks off in Leicester Square

The program includes Jewish-related feature, documentary and short films from around the world.

film movie camera 88 (photo credit: )
film movie camera 88
(photo credit: )
The 11th UK Jewish Film Festival kicked off on Monday night with a gala screening of the awarding-winning Israeli film The Band's Visit, which was attended by community leaders and celebrity actors in London's prestigious Leicester Square. This year's festival includes a huge variety of films - 43 titles - including 25 UK premieres. The program includes Jewish-related feature, documentary and short films from around the world. In addition, there will be a number of exclusive panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions with leading directors and filmmakers. The festival will open in earnest at a prestigious cinema in Belsize Park, northwest London, on November 3 and run until November 8 before moving to venues across London. From January to March 2008, 'UKJFF on Tour' will present screenings of the best films from the festival in cities across the UK. "This is our strongest program so far," said festival director Judy Ironside, "and we are sure that our audiences will agree when they see the diversity and scope of the films. With award winning feature films from across the world, cutting-edge documentaries and a few old favorites, we're certain that this year's festival will have something for everyone." Opening the festival on Saturday night is Aviva My Love, made by acclaimed director Shemi Zarhin, who also directed Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi. This time Zarhin sheds light on the simple life of a working class family in his home town Tiberias. Ironside travelled the world to find suitable films, one of which was recognized by juries at the Berlin and the Sundance film festivals. Sweet Mud tells the story of young people growing up on a kibbutz in the 1970s. Based on the personal memories of writer-director Dror Shaul, the film cuts through the romantic idea of the kibbutz, focusing on the individual struggle within the rigid rules of this community. Comedy is a central festival theme with films such as Woody Allen's mockumentary, Zelig and The Front, about the deadly serious subject of the McCarthy witch-hunts in 1950s America, and the French romantic comedy Gorgeous, billed as a French Sex in the City. The UKJFF has traditionally championed short films, and this year is continuing the tradition with My Nose, which follows the dilemma of a Jewish girl tackling the ultimate stereotype in the age of cosmetic surgery. There is also Sing-Along-A-Joseph and films of gay interest. Jerusalem is Proud to Present follows the preparations for last year's Jerusalem gay pride parade. The Bubble is the latest film by Eytan Fox - director of the acclaimed Walk on Water - which retells the story of Romeo and Juliet in Tel Aviv when an Israeli soldier meets and falls in love with a Palestinian man whilst on checkpoint duty. A number of films focus on the Holocaust and its effects on later generations, while Encounter Point is the story of the families of people killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict who come together to call for an end to the violence supposedly carried out in their names. Filmmaker Ronit Avni will join actors Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Awwad, who play the two main characters, as special guests at the UK premiere of the film.