Film gala dinner attracts a strong cast of characters

By Rosa Doherty, June 26, 2014
Film critic Jason Solomons interviews Henry Goodman

Film critic Jason Solomons interviews Henry Goodman

The stars came out for UK Jewish Film at its first gala dinner, held at the Park Lane Hotel in Mayfair.

Steven Berkoff, Henry Goodman, Greta Scacchi and Maureen Lipman were among those on the red carpet, along with Academy award-winning producer Gareth Unwin (The King's Speech), who brought his Oscar to show the 300 guests.

Ms Lipman - who was accompanied by her daughter, the playwright Amy Rosenthal - said the annual UK Jewish Film Festival had been a great innovation. She added: "The UKJF are making things happen for writers, directors and actors by helping to create the stories we need to see on screen. They helped my own daughter through their short film fund. She made a film about a boy whose mother set him up with Monica Lewinsky."

Jewish film was "burgeoning", Mr Goodman said. "It doesn't matter if it is a story about a tank in Israel, or a shop in Golders Green. Jewish themes have the ability to speak to wide audiences. It's up to the community to tell those stories for them to become universal stories."

But Mr Berkoff wanted to see more Jewish stories hitting the big screen in the UK. "I haven't seen a Jewish film in this country for years," he said. "At least, not a big one. I don't think we are a Jew-friendly country, to the personalities or the culture. We need to tell the stories of how we built our lives, our culture and our histories in this country.

Amy Rosenthal and Maureen Lipman

Amy Rosenthal and Maureen Lipman

"But mention it to filmmakers, producers, or the BBC and they are not interested. I want to make a film about the Cable Street riots. It is one of the most dynamic conflicts between righteousness and the evils of fascism, but all we have is Downton stinking Abbey."

Mr Unwin said his Oscar statuette was his "honorary plus one at the moment. He has even been clocking up the air miles while I've been filming in Jordan." During the meal, movie knowledge was tested by a quiz about classic films old and new.

The proceeds of around £150,000 from the night will assist UKJF's work, including support for Jewish filmmakers and educational projects.

It is also preparing for its 18th film festival, which will be held in November.

Last year's festival attracted 15,000 patrons.

Last updated: 4:13pm, July 2 2014