UK Jewish Film Festival

Campaign to help people with learning disabilities be barmitzvah

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

A national campaign which encourages synagogues and Jewish organisations to include people with learning disabilities has been launched.

The Inclusion Campaign was launched on Sunday at the UK premiere of the documentary film Praying with Lior, at the UK Jewish Film Festival.

The campaign, led by learning disability charity the Judith Trust, asks congregations to initiate practical steps to ensure that people with learning disabilities have a greater involvement in religious and communal life.


Review: Praying with Lior

By Jessica Elgot, November 16, 2009

Lior Liebling is 13 years old. He likes wrestling with his brother, annoying his little sister, and is finding it hard to concentrate on writing his Dvar Torah. But Lior is no ordinary barmitzvah.

Lior has Downs Syndrome. That he can undertake a barmitzvah at all is astounding. But perhaps even more compelling is that what Lior loves most in the world is davening, leading some in his congregation to believe he is ‘close to God’, a spiritual genius.


Interview: A Serious Man's Fred Melamed

By Jessica Elgot, November 16, 2009

The Coen brothers' A Serious Man has been hailed as their "Jewish masterpiece", but its cast is a far cry from the celeb-fest of Burn After Reading and No Country For Old Men.

Fred Melamed, despite starring in nine Woody Allen movies, is one of the cast of relative unknowns. He plays slimy love rival Sy Abelman to Michael Stuhlbarg’s protagonist Larry Gopnik, and he has been nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award for his work.


Review: Shattering Silence

By Jessica Elgot, November 16, 2009

Eric Friedler’s sharp documentary takes a biting look at Germany’s richest family, and asks the question the Quandts hoped they could keep silent forever – where did they get their fortune from?

The family have always claimed their fortune came from their ownership of car giant BMV. But in Shattering Silence Friedler goes back to explore Gunter Quandt’s role in the Third Reich, and his exploitation of thousands of slave labourers in his factories, Jews, resistance fighters and prisoners of war.


Review: City of Borders

By James Martin, November 13, 2009

The New Israel Fund screening of City of Borders at the UK Jewish Film Festival covers just about every inch of Israeli society, as it hones in on the lives of Jerusalem’s gay, lesbian and transgender community, through the vista of Israel’s political landscape.

Sa’ar Nathaniel, present at the screening, is also one of its main protagonists- Jerusalem Municipality Councillor during the day, he runs the city’s only full-time gay bar, Shushan, at night.


BBC refuses Rosenthal's The Barmitzvah Boy release

By Robyn Rosen, November 12, 2009

Actress Maureen Lipman has said that the BBC will not produce DVDs of work by her late husband, playwright Jack Rosenthal, despite numerous requests and high demand.

Ms Lipman, 63, made the comments while speaking to a packed audience attending the screening of Mr Rosenthal’s 1976 television play, The Barmitzvah Boy, screened to mark the UK Jewish Film Festival’s barmitzvah year.

She said later that she receives dozens of letters from fans asking where they can find DVDs of his films and plays, and she has even leant out her own personal copies.


Hannah Sherrard gets a lead role on the big screen - aged 12

By Candice Krieger, November 12, 2009

Thirteen-year-old Hannah Sherrard made her debut film appearance this week starring as the lead in Minkie Spiro’s I Am Ruthie Segal, Hear Me Roar. She was 12 when selected for the part.

The musical comedy, which premiered at the UK Jewish Film Festival on Sunday, tells the story of a Ruthie Segal, a batmitzvah girl who takes the opportunity of her moment on the bimah to tell the congregation what she really thinks about the ceremony.


Review: Pizza in Auschwitz

By Jessica Elgot, November 11, 2009

Most children are told fairy stories to send them to sleep at bedtime. Miri and Sagi were told scary stories. Stories about their father’s time in the ghettos and concentration camps of Nazi-occupied Poland.

Now the elderly and fierce Dani drags his two grown-up Israeli children, the chain-smoking, petulant Miri and solemn, religious Sagi to retrace his steps to the concentration camps that have haunted him, and them.


Review: Adam Resurrected

By Jenni Frazer, November 11, 2009

Hollywood actor Jeff Goldblum is not noted for his deep, insightful interpretations of a role. If anything, Goldblum usually plays Goldblum: a very tall, not unhandsome character actor with a whimsical smile and a predilection to get the girl.

In Adam Resurrected, however, Goldblum is a revelation. As the pre-war cabaret entertainer Adam Stein, the most famous clown in Germany, Goldblum startles and delights; and as the charismatic hero of an Israeli desert institution for mentally damaged Holocaust survivors, one simply cannot take one’s eyes off him.


Review: A Serious Man

By Jenni Frazer, November 9, 2009

The Coen Brothers' latest film, A Serious Man, is their most Jewish, definitely, and among their funniest, undoubtedly. Whether most audiences will understand it is another matter.
The first 15 minutes are, after all, entirely in Yiddish, set in a snowbound shtetl wherein a husband and wife may or may not be entertaining a dybbuk — the fantastically craggy-faced Fyvush Finkel.