I’m always surprised by how rare it is to see Jewish characters and stories portrayed openly on our film and TV screens. That’s one of the reasons why it feels more urgent and relevant than ever to tackle this deficit head on through the UK International Jewish Film Festival, which this year celebrates its 21st birthday.
The festival not only provides a chance to share with pride our unique stories through film but also reaches beyond the community in a way that no other medium can, creating better appreciation of Jewish and Israeli life.
Moreover, the film industry increasingly recognises the festival as an influential showcase to premiere new films ahead of their general UK release.
For 2017 we are once again delighted to bring you, our audiences, a vibrant programme of 74 British and international films at 18 cinemas across the UK, which represent the latest and best in Jewish and Israeli cinema. This year we’ve divided the festival into six categories – Galas, Israeli Cinema, Made in Britain, European Cinema, Across the World and Shorts.
Our gala opening features An Act of Defiance, which movingly tells the little-known true story of the crucial role played by South African Jews in consigning apartheid to history.
An impressive Israeli cinema offering includes Ben Gurion: Epilogue, which offers fascinating unseen archive interviews and a glimpse into the private life of one of the most influential statesman of the 20th century;
The European cinema strand includes Jewish comedy Italian style with Let Yourself Go.
From around the world there’s a chance to see Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, ahead of its UK release. Who knew that this Austrian-Jewish Hollywood legend was also the inventor of sub-radar frequency hopping, the precursor of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth?
The festival also supports outstanding films from talented first-time directors, including three from Israel, which are in competition from this year’s Best Debut Feature Award: Scaffolding, Land of the Little People, and The Cakemaker are among the most original films of the year.
Michael Etherton is chief executive of UK Jewish Film