The UK Jewish Film Festival 2023 takes place in London cinemas from 9-19 November, with a national tour taking place from 9-30 November with a selection of films available online from 20-27 November.
With an outstanding variety of feature films and shorts from around the world, the majority playing for the first time in the UK, the festival will highlight four fantastic titles at unique Gala screenings with special guests in attendance. These exciting Galas are in addition to a packed line-up including film programmes covering European Film, Israeli Film, British Film, American, and Canadian & Australian Film, along with additional specially curated strands covering Documentary, LGBTQ+ Cinema and extensive programmes dedicated to shorts, including winners from the festival’s own Pears Short Film Fund at UK Jewish Film and UK Jewish Film Short Doc Fund.
Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins ushers in the start of the festival on 9 November with the powerful Opening Night Gala presentation of director James Hawes’ One Life (UK, 2023). This beautifully told true story sees the legendary actor paired with Johnny Flynn to take on the true-life role of Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker and son of German-Jewish parents, who, after being horrified by tales of refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Sudetenland, sets off for Prague and begins to find ways to bring out as many refugee children as possible. Aided by his formidable mother, Barbara (Helena Bonham Carter) and a coterie of dedicated activists, their seemingly impossible mission faces daunting obstacles in this inspiring true story of hope and determination. Director James Hawes will be present on the night to introduce his film.
This year’s Animation Gala is the UK Premiere of the stunning new animated film My Father’s Secrets (France/Belgium, 2022), which features a star-studded voice cast including screen legends Elliott Gould and Miriam Margolyes, as well as Tracy-Ann Oberman and David Baddiel. Based on a graphic novel by Michel Kichka, one of Israel’s most beloved cartoonists, the film tells the story of his growing up in the house of his father, Henri Kichka, who had survived Auschwitz but only felt that he was ready to share his story after the Eichmann Trial. However, Henri only told his story to strangers, not his own family – his wife and four children creating a divide that would only be reconciled over time. My Father’s Secrets is a heartrending yet deeply uplifting tale of remembrance, love and forgiveness. David Baddiel, who narrates the film, will be present with David Freedman, director of the film’s English-language version, for a Q&A at the screening.
For 2023’s Centrepiece Gala, the festival is proud to screen Marco Bellocchio’s Palme d’Or nominated Kidnapped (Italy, 2023), the heart-wrenching true story of a six-year-old Jewish-Italian boy, secretly baptised by his nurse, and kidnapped from his family in Bologna on the orders of the Pope in June 1858. Brought up and indoctrinated into Christianity at the Pope’s side, his distraught Jewish family embarked on an international campaign to have their son returned and find themselves at the epicentre of a wider historical battle between the forces of Catholic authoritarianism and equality and the unification of Italy. In Kidnapped, award-winning director Marco Bellocchio creates a gripping portrait of a Jewish community in turmoil and at the mercy of a hostile and all-powerful theocracy that has been described by Variety as ‘a handsomely mounted period drama’ and had The Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw remarking ‘this already looks like a classic’.
For this year’s Closing Night Gala, Sasson Gabay, who starred in the UK Jewish Film Festival 2022 Opening Film Karaoke, plays a doting father in the UK Premiere of the moving drama My Daughter. My Love (Israel, 2023). Shimon (Gabay) is visiting his recently married daughter and her husband in Paris in this stylish and unsettling tale of marital crisis. The young couple are living the dream, but Shimon soon discovers that something is wrong and begins to dig deeper. My Daughter. My Love is a subtle and compelling exploration of love and the powerful emotional bonds between a father and daughter.
The Closing Night Gala will once again play host to the award ceremony for the festival’s Best Film and Best Documentary Awards. The Best Film Award will see six feature films from across the programme competing, with the jury being headed by renowned UK director and producer Gurinder Chadha OBE (Bend It Like Beckham, Blinded by the Light, Beecham House). Films nominated for the Best Film Award are The Goldman Case, Kidnapped, One Life, The Other Widow, Shoshana, and Valeria is Getting Married. Six features will compete for the Best Documentary Award, and this year’s jury is headed by Robert Rinder MBE, the broadcaster, author, and barrister recognised for ITV1’s Judge Rinder, along with numerous screen credits including My Family, The Holocaust and Me. Films nominated for the Best Documentary Award are: The Camera of Doctor Morris, The Devil’s Confession: The Lost Eichmann Tapes, Egypt, A Love Song, Queen of the Deuce, Revenge: Our Dad the Nazi Killer, Vishniac.
For more information, visit UK Jewish Film