thejc – The UK Jewish Film Festival has announced a prestigious line-up for 2019, including the Oscar-tipped JoJo Rabbit starring Scarlett Johansson and UK premiers of spy drama The Operative, starring Diane Kruger and Martin Freeman, and comedy My Polish Honeymoon.
The festival will run from November 6-21 at 15 cinemas across London. In addition, festival highlights will be shown in 20 towns and cities across England, Scotland and Wales, running until December 12.
The programme, which features 96 films and discussions with directors, actors, politicians and journalists, is the largest of its kind in the world. It includes eight world premieres, one European premiere, 40 UK premieres, and films from 24 countries, including 23 films from the UK.
The opening night gala will host a showing of My Polish Honeymoon, a debut feature from French director Élise Otzenberger. The comedy follows a recently-married Parisian couple as they head off on a belated honeymoon to Poland, and becomes a story about rediscovering roots and being Jewish today.
The Oscar-tipped Jojo Rabbit, which recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, will be the centrepiece of the closing night gala. Written and directed by Taika Waititi (Jewish on his mother’s side; his father is Maori), this Second World War satire follows Jojo, a lonely German boy whose imaginary friend is an idiotic Adolf Hitler. Jojo’s world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic.
The centrepiece gala will see the UK premiere of The Operative, directed by Yuval Adler and starring Diane Kruger and Martin Freeman. British citizen Rachel is a rootless polyglot, but with a deep love for Israel – traits that make her an ideal Mossad agent. Recruited by a Berlin-based British Jew, she is sent to Tehran to spy on a businessman. Based on the Israeli novel?The English Teacher,?The Operative?asks whether love for a man is more important than service to your nation.
The documentary gala hosts the world premiere of The Human Factor, followed by a Q&A with the film’s director, Dror Moreh (The Gatekeepers), and producer Teddy Leifer (Oscar nominee for The Invisible War, Oscar winner for Icarus). With the end of the Cold War and America becoming a sole global superpower, the 1990s brought the promise of a new world order – and hopes for a comprehensive peace between Israel and two of its bitterest enemies, the Palestinians and Syria. Featuring key players, the documentary looks back at a decade which started with the signing of the Oslo Accords and ended with a bitter sense of disillusionment, leading to the Second Intifada.
Michael Etherton, Chief Executive of UK Jewish Film, said: “We are the UK’s only film festival dedicated to telling stories about Jewish life and experience, and the majority of our UK and international films would not otherwise make it to cinemas or streaming services.
“At a time of increasing fears about the rise of racism, including antisemitism, the UK Jewish Film Festival has a crucial role to play in making sure that Jewish life and culture is being adequately represented on our cinema screens.
“That’s why this year, with the support of the BFI Audience Fund, we are unrolling an extensive and important nationwide tour. From Inverness to Brighton and Bangor to Norwich, we will reveal wonderful cinematic snapshots of Jewish life to diverse audiences who may not otherwise have any interaction with Jewish culture.”