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.
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.
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.
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.
"We’re Jewish film-makers, for sure," admits Joel Coen, one half of the Oscar-winning sibling team whose brand of ironic, darkly eccentric and often violent cinema has dominated independent American film-making for 25 years.
“We’ve never tried to hide that or tip-toe around it,” chips in his brother Ethan, three years his junior. “Hollywood has always been largely Jewish, although made of Jews who wanted to assimilate. As a friend of ours once said: ‘If the movie business wasn’t difficult, God wouldn’t have given it to the Jews.’”
For an audience with a ... shall we say, overt appreciation of food and drink, the UK Jewish Film Festival's opening gala film, A Matter of Size, had a certain frisson.
This gentle Israeli comedy is the story of the doleful Herzl, fat since childhood and desperately putting himself through an endless series of dietary hoops in the grim working-class Israeli town of Ramle.
Ronit elkabetz is the face of Israeli cinema. The 43-year-old actress/director has starred in some of the country’s most acclaimed films over the past 10 years — including Late Marriage in 2001 and 2007’s The Band’s Visit. She has also co-written and directed two films with her brother, Shlomi. Born in a suburb of Haifa to parents of Moroccan descent, she now lives in Paris and Tel Aviv. Her latest performances, in Jaffa and The Girl On The Train, can be seen at the UK Jewish Film Festival, along with a screening of Late Marriage.
Dan Patterson, TV comedy producer, was barmitzvah in 1973 in Oxford: “Because Oxford Synagogue was being rebuilt I had the ceremony in St Aloysius Church. The lunch was at St Cross College and the dinner was at St Giles House, so it was probably the most saint-invoked barmitzvah of all time.
Israeli films have been showered with international praise over in the past 18 months. Jellyfish, The Band’s Visit, Waltz With Bashir, Beaufort all won prizes or huge acclaim, and most recently, Samuel Maoz’s Lebanon won the Golden Lion Prize at the Venice Film festival. So anyone surveying the jam-packed, barmitzvah-themed 13th UK Jewish Film Festival programme, will be casting bets on which of the 15 feature-length and short Israeli films are destined for the big time.