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Star-studded opening to UK Jewish Film Festival

    Paul Hampartsoumian
    Paul Hampartsoumian

    The 19th UK Jewish Film Festival got off to a glitzy start on Saturday evening as stars of the gala premiere, Closer To The Moon, joined 300 movie fans for a reception and screening at BFI on the Southbank.

    Set in Romania in 1958 where antisemitism was rife, the film is based on the true story of a disenchanted group of Jewish friends who plot an audacious bank raid.

    Speaking before the screening, one of the stars, Allan Corduner, fondly recalled filming in Bucharest during an autumn heatwave. "The set was amazing. It looked all period but we actually filmed outside. The buildings were extraordinary."

    Playing a drunken character had been an interesting experience for someone who drinks very little. The director kept saying to me: 'More, more, more.' I'm saying: 'Are you sure'?"

    He was excited to be part of the film festival. "It's a good thing if it celebrates the diversity which goes on within our Jewishness - our differences as well as our togetherness."

    It is a high profile time for Corduner, who can currently be seen in Homeland, where he plays a Mossad man. "I can say no more about that. When you do Homeland you have to sign a confidentiality agreement."

    What he could disclose was that "the script is done very last minute, sometimes three days before you start shooting, so you have to think on your feet. It's a great big well-oiled machine."

    This year's festival will show 83 films in London and four regional centres over a 16-day period. Fifty are UK premieres. Chief executive Michael Etherton told the BFI audience that a major focus had been on "supporting and nurturing new creative talent".

    Israeli films were a core part of the programme and the festival would additionally strongly reflect Jewish identity and history.

    Closer To The Moon director Nae Caranfil announced that the film would also have a commercial UK release.

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