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UK Jewish Film Festival

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2004-09-27

This year's UK Jewish Film Festival, which kicks off on October 13, promises an exciting selection of Jewish-themed movies from all over the world. SomethingJewish's Caroline Westbrook chooses the essential films to see.

Rashevski's Tango OPENING NIGHT GALA
This charming comedy drama, a co-production between France, Belgium and Luxembourg, focuses on a family's search for their Jewish identity after their grandmother, Rosa, dies. The Rashevski clan have become assimiliated, but Rosa's death, and the process of organising her
funeral, makes them rethink their own levels of Jewish observance, especially her granddaughter Nina, who sets about finding herself a Jewish husband. However, Rosa's fondness for tango dancing has an even more profound effect on their lives.

No cert. In French and Hebrew with English subtitles. Showing Wednesday 13 October, Vue Cinema Leicester Square at 8pm (preceeded by a reception in the cinema bar at 7pm). Also showing Sunday 17 October, Screen on the Hill at 9pm

Only Human + Backseat Bingo
Movies about the conflict between Jews and Palestinians are commonplace, but this offbeat offering from Spain offers a fresh spin on the relationship between the two races. Here, a young woman, Leni, brings her fiancé Rafi home to meet her family for the first time, and all goes well until they discover that he's Palestinian. That news is enough to upset his future mother-in-law, but things become even more complicated when Rafi drops some frozen soup on a passer-by – who, it turns out, might just be his girlfriend's dad. A refreshing look at a well-worn subject, which is already being compared to the work of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. There's also a chance to catch the animated short film Backseat Bingo, which focuses on a blossoming romance between two seniors.

Cert 15. In Spanish with English subtitles. Showing Saturday 16 October at 9.10pm and Tuesday 19 October at 2.30pm, Screen on the Hill

Twin Sisters
Nominated for the Best Foreign Film at this year's Oscars, Twin Sisters is based on an epic Dutch bestseller and follows the fortunes of siblings Lotte and Anna, who live in 1920s Germany but who are separated at the age of six after their parents die. Lotte is taken in by Dutch cousins and enjoys a comfortable life, but things are tough for Anna, who is brought up on a pig farm and suffers at the hands of cruel relatives. When the pair meet again, on the eve of World War II, their circumstances are very different – Anna is working for a rich countess, while Lotte is set to marry a Jewish man.

No cert. In German and Dutch with English subtitles. Showing Saturday
16 October at 6.30pm, Screen on the Hill

Mame-Loshn, Kinder-Loshn + One Day Crossing
At the end of the 19th Century over 12 million people spoke Yiddish – these days it's only one million – but the language is becoming popular again, particularly in Israel, a country whose population has always been reluctant to learn it. This fascinating documentary takes a look at the history of Yiddish speakers in Israel, as well as talking to writers, artists and other people who are attempting to revive the language. Highlights include the appearance of Raquel Schwarcz, a performer who raps in Yiddish.

Also showing is One Day Crossing, a short film about a woman trying to conceal her Jewish identity in war-torn Hungary.

No cert. Mame-Loshn, Kinder-Loshn is in Yiddish with English
subtitles. Showing Monday 18 October at 2pm, Screen on the Hill

Paper Clips
A Holocaust-themed documentary with a difference, Paper Clips tells the story of a school in the tiny town of Whitwell, Tennessee. In 1998 pupils at the school, after being taught about the Holocaust, embarked on a project to collect six million paper clips – one for each of the victims – in order to further understand just how much of an impact the Holocaust had on the world. What they didn't realise was just how much of an impact their tremendous task would have on both their school and the townspeople.

No cert. Mame-Loshn, Kinder-Loshn is in Yiddish with English
subtitles. Showing Wednesday 20 October at 2pm, Screen on the Hill

Jack Rosenthal Tribute
Don't miss this rare chance to see some of the best-known works of writer Jack Rosenthal, who died earlier this year. London festival-goers can see Bye Bye Baby, which Rosenthal wrote and directed, and which follows the fortunes of a young Jewish man who is conscripted into the Royal Navy. The screening will be attended by Rosenthal's widow, actress Maureen Lipman, as well as actor Bill Nighy, who starred in Rosenthal's final film Ready When You Are Mr McGill (a extract from which will be shown prior to the screening) Rosenthal's earlier efforts, meanwhile, will be shown on the festival's UK tour, which begins on 17 October.

The Barmitzvah Boy is the funny and touching story of a Jewish family in the run-up to their
son's big day, while The Evacuees follows two young Jewish boys who are sent from Manchester to live in Blackpool during World War II.

No cert. Bye Bye Baby is showing on Sunday 17 October at 3.50pm. The Barmitzvah Boy and The Evacuees are showing at various venues around the country from October 17. For more information on this visit the official website (address below).

For details of other films showing, please visit the official festival website:

All films are showing at the Screen on The Hill, 203 Haverstock Hill, London NW3 4QG, except where stated. For further information and to book tickets, call the box office on 020 7435 3366. For tickets for the Opening Night Gala on 13 October, call the Vue Cinema box office
on 01273 735522.

Please note, children under 16 will not be admitted to films or documentaries except where stated – please visit the official festival website for details of events open to under-16s.
Certain films will be showing at venues around the country from 17 October to the end of January 2005 – for further information visit the website.