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Festive film Jews

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2005-10-21

London Film Festival

London Film Festival

This year's London Film Festival is underway in the capital, offering two weeks of great movies from around the world. And among this year's highlights are some of the best new Jewish-themed movies around. So for those of you who fancy checking out some Semitic cinema, here's our look at what you should be seeing.

Everything Is Illuminated

Based on Jonathan Safran Foer's novel, this quirky comedy drama stars Elijah Wood as Jonathan, a young Jewish man who travels to Ukraine in search of the woman he believes saved his grandfather from the Nazis.

He's joined on this journey by a pair of Ukranian tour guides – a grumpy old man and his grandson whose command of English is dodgy at best. This is very much a film of two halves, the first part being a hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy, the latter half taking a more dramatic turn as Jonathan comes closer to finding out the truth about his grandfather.

Showing on: November 1, 6.30pm/November 3, 4pm, Odeon West End

Song of Songs

Set among London's Orthodox community, this tells the story of Ruth (Natalie Press) whose dying mother's last wish is to be reunited with her estranged son David (Joel Chalfen). However, when Ruth tracks him down it sparks off a chain of unexpected and sinister events.

Showing on: October 24, 6.30pm, Phoenix East Finchley November 1, 9pm, National Film Theatre

Bee Season

Based on Myla Goldberg's book, this family drama follows Eliza Naumann (Flora Cross), a young girl who surprises her family by winning her school spelling bee and heading for the national championships. Her dad, a Judaism professor (Richard Gere) who has never realised his daughter's potential, begins taking more of an interest in her as a result and introduces her to the world of Jewish mysticism.

Showing on: October 22, 6pm/October 24, 3.30, Odeon West End


This Israeli tale is billed as the first film made by and with members of the Orthodox Jewish community that's aimed at a mainstream audience. It focuses on Moshe and Mali, a childless married couple getting ready for Succot. Trouble is, they've got no guests to pay host to, and no money to spend – until an unexpected windfall turns their lives upside down.

Showing on: November 2, 6.15pm/November 3, 4pm, National Film Theatre

The Constant Gardener

Kosher British actress Rachel Weisz is already being tipped for an Oscar nomination for her performance in this thriller, which was the opening night film. The Constant Gardener, which is based on a novel by John le Carre, stars Weisz as a human rights activist who is murdered in Kenya. Her husband (Ralph Fiennes) travels to the area to investigate the circumstances surrounding her death – and is shocked by what he finds. The film's already had its London Film Festival run (it was the opening night movie), but it's released in UK cinemas on November 11.

For further information, visit the LFF website: