Where you can catch the Chasidic drug mules

What do drug-smuggling Chasids, Joan Rivers and a Yiddish version of Shakespeare have in common? They are all coming to London next month as part of the UK Jewish Film Festival.

Now in its 14th year, the 2010 UKJFF has a packed programme, including a Chinese cartoon about Shanghai’s Jewish refugees during the Holocaust and the comic tale of an strictly Orthodox baseball team.

Of the 66 films being screened, nearly 50 are premieres, with the opening-night audience treated to an exclusive preview of The Debt, a thriller starring Helen Mirren as a former Mossad agent.

Directors of many of the films will be present to discuss their work, from Kevin Asch, whose Holy Rollers investigates Chasidic ecstasy mules, to Eve Annenberg on her contemporary romance, Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish. As well as feature films, Muslim stand-up comedian Shazia Mirza will front the festival’s inaugural Comedy Clash event, while three episodes of Israeli television series Srugim, dubbed the Orthodox-version of Friends, will be screened for the first time in the UK.

Judy Ironside, founder and director of the UKJFF, says that many of the films would not be available to UK audiences without the festival. “There is a huge amount of Jewish talent being celebrated,” she says. “This year’s programme is our most provocative yet.”

From November 4 to 21. Details at www.ukjewishfilmfestival.org.uk

Last updated: 2:59pm, January 28 2011