UK Jewish film festival ’09: it’s a wrap

By Jessica Elgot, November 26, 2009
Fanny Ardant and Gerard Depardieu in the comedy Hello Goodbye, the concluding film of the festival

Fanny Ardant and Gerard Depardieu in the comedy Hello Goodbye, the concluding film of the festival

It took 10,000 audience members, 65 films, 14 venues and two very talented Jewish brothers, but after a jam-packed 13 days, the UK Jewish Film Festival drew to a close last week.

The festival, which screened a record-breaking 31 UK film premieres, closed in London on Thursday night with the screening of Hello Goodbye and the presentation of the Shoresh Charitable Prize.

Israeli comedy A Matter of Size and documentary film Praying with Lior won the awards after voting by the festival audiences.

In its barmitzvah year, audiences were up by a record-breaking 36 per cent from last year.

Judy Ironside, the festival director, expressed her delight at the success of the two-week “exhilarating” screenings.

She said: “I have never had so many people coming up to me to say that this has been the highlight of their year, and asking why we don’t do it two or three times a year. I think we’d need a much bigger team to do that.

“It’s wonderful to be able to show these films to people, because practically all of them just wouldn’t get a UK release otherwise.”

She added: “As this has been our strongest programme so far, the choice for an award was tough. However, we thought that A Matter of Size and Praying with Lior were particularly special when we programmed them and I’m very happy our audiences agreed with us and decided to give them their vote.”

The festival included a special preview of A Serious Man, the new film by the Coen brothers, which they have called their “Jewish masterpiece”. It was the best attended film of the festival, attracting an audience of 700 people.

From January to April 2010, the UKJFF will tour 15 cities across the UK and will also have a slot at the Limmud conference in Warwick.

Ms Ironside said: “We’re just firming up the programme, and we’re in the last stages of negotiating taking A Matter of Size on tour. So many people wouldn’t have been able to see it, because we showed it as part of our West End gala screening. So we’re really hoping to take that film on tour. We want to take the films that people really loved.”

    Last updated: 4:42pm, November 26 2009