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UK Jewish Film Festival 2019: Jojo Rabbit and My Polish Honeymoon among line-up

Jojo Rabbit

Preview by Jack Foley

TAIKA Waititi’s award-winning Jojo Rabbit and acclaimed My Polish Honeymoon are among the highlights at this year’s UK Jewish Film Festival.

Running from November 6 – 21, 2019, at 15 cinemas across London, the event is now in its 23rd year. A UK tour of festival highlights to 20 towns and cities across England, Scotland and Wales will run until December 12.

This year’s programme comprises 96 films, plus Q&As and discussions with directors, actors, politicians, journalists and others, making it the largest Jewish film festival programme in the world.

The film programme includes 8 world premieres, 1 European premiere, 40 UK premieres, and films from 24 countries, including 23 films from the UK.

For 2019, the festival is launching its first ever Best Documentary Award with a jury headed up by BBC Storyville’s Nick Fraser and also comprising Anna Godas (CEO, Dogwoof), Laura Granditer
(Managing Director, Immediate Films), Wendy Ide (Film Journalist, The Observer, Screen International), Charlie Phillips (Head of Video, The Guardian) and Tim Wardle (Director, Three Identical Strangers).

Films in competition for this award are Advocate, Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles, The Human Factor, It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story, The Last Resort and The State against Mandela and the Others.

Films in competition for the Dorfman Best Film Award are Dolce Fine Giornata, Flawless, Jojo Rabbit, My Polish Honeymoon, Stripped and The Unorthodox.

Jurors are Jane Barclay (Producer, Blinded by the Light), Roanna Benn (Managing Director, Drama Republic), Phil de Semlyen (Global Film Editor, Time Out), James Kent (Director, Testament of Youth), Jane Lush (Chair, BAFTA) and Dan Mazer (Writer, Borat, Bruno, Who is America).

Films in competition for Best Debut Feature Award are Fig Tree, God of the Piano, The Humorist, Leona, My Polish Honeymoon and The Unorthodox.

Jurors are Tammy Einav (CEO, adam&eveDDB), Satwant Gil (Director, Women in Film & Television), Marc Goldberg (CEO, Signature Entertainment), Ofir Raul Graizer (Director, The Cakemaker), Linda Kelsey (Journalist, Author) and Jason Solomons (Broadcaster, Film Critic, BBC).


The Opening Night Gala is the UK Premiere of My Polish Honeymoon, the debut feature from French director Élise Otzenberger. This comedy follows recently- married Parisian couple (Anna and Adam) as they head off on a belated honeymoon to Poland, leaving their baby in the hands of Anna’s parents.

Immersed in a new but strangely familiar culture, they discover a Poland awash with absurd and wonderful characters, picture perfect beauty and unbearable sadness. Élise Otzenberger’s debut feature is a life affirming tale about rediscovering roots and being Jewish today.

The Closing Night Gala is the Oscar tipped satire from Fox Searchlight Pictures, Jojo Rabbit, which recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Written and directed by cult filmmaker Taika Waititi (Jewish on his mother’s side, while his father is Maori), this World War II satire follows Jojo, a lonely German boy whose imaginary friend is an idiotic Adolf Hitler (Waititi, in a boisterous performance).

A keen (if slightly incompetent) member of the Hitler Youth, 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. Also starring Oscar-winner Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson, and daringly confronting nationalism and racism, Jojo Rabbit is as hilariously sharp as The Producers and as sentimental as Life is Beautiful.

The Centrepiece Gala is 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, and featuring a stellar Israeli and international cast, The Operative asks whether love for a man is more important than service to your nation.

The Documentary Gala is the UK 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. The dramatic geopolitical shift also raised hopes for a comprehensive peace between Israel and two of its bitterest enemies, the Palestinians and Syria.

Featuring key players, this fascinating and important documentary looks back at a pivotal 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 anti-Semitism, 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.”

To find out more, or to book tickets, click here