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Anti-apartheid drama wins best picture award at UK Jewish Film Festival

An Act of Defiance recounts the story of a mixed group of black and Jewish men who were arrested in 1963 for conspiring to commit sabotage against the South African state

    A still from An Act of Defiance
    A still from An Act of Defiance

    A movie about Jews’ role in opposing apartheid rule in South Africa took home the best film award as the UK Jewish Film Festival (UKJFF) drew to a close.

    An Act of Defiance, directed by Jean van de Velde, recounts the story of a mixed group of black and Jewish men who were arrested in 1963 for conspiring to commit sabotage against the South African state.

    The film won the 2017 Dorfman Best Film award, it was announced last night at the festival’s closing event.

    The decision was reached by judges Simon Chinn, Henry Goodman, Daniel Gordon, Kate Muir and Ben Steele, who agreed unanimously that the award go to the historical courtroom drama.

    Mr Chinn, the head judge, said the feature, which was screened at the festival’s opening gala earlier in November, was a “a powerful and important film that aims to correct the record in relation to this key moment in South Africa's history. Compellingly told, accessible, and with fine performances this is a film which we hope will bring a little known aspect of the anti-apartheid struggle to a broad international audience.”

    The best debut feature award went to Scaffolding, which was described by movie review site ScreenDaily as “a small film with a big heart”.

    Written and directed by Matan Yair, it tells the story of a 17-year-old boy who rejects the chance to inherit his father’s construction business to become a literature teacher.

    It is the third award it has picked up this year, also scooping the best Israeli feature film and best actor prizes at the 2017 Jerusalem Film Festival.

    The UKJFF’s first best screenplay award was presented to Shlomit Nehama, for The Women’s Balcony, which centres on a tug of war within a tight-knit Jerusalem community when it learns its new synagogue will not include a seated area for women.

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