UK Jewish Film Festival 2015

The 19th UK Jewish Film Festival
November 7th – 22nd, 2015

by Joanna Orland

The UK Jewish Film Festival returned for its 19th year.  Showcasing an array of important Jewish films, the programme featured an array of upcoming and notable talent, as well as subject matter highly relevant to Jewish culture.  While some of the films were rather hit and miss, there is no doubt that one of the most significant Jewish films of our time was on display – Son of Saul.  A film about the past, Son of Saul remains relevant to our present and future and is one of the most harrowing views in modern cinema.

Here are a few reviews from The 19th UK Jewish Film Festival:

Directed by Michael Almereyda

Starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder

by Joanna Orland

The subject matter of Experimenter is fascinating. The film is an utter mess.

Somehow this biopic of acclaimed Jewish psychologist Stanley Milgram is getting positive reviews, with some critics even declaring it as a smart, stylized biopic worthy of its subject. Sure, it’s not the normal format for a biopic to be non-linear with the lead subject constantly breaking the 4th wall to look at the camera and narrate events in his life as well as potential inner thoughts. But I didn’t take this directorial choice as stylish or smart in the least – Instead, I found it ridiculously pretentious… read more

I Smile Back
Directed by Adam Salky
Starring Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles and Thomas Sadoski

by Joanna Orland

Fans of Sarah Silverman may be surprised to see the usually hilarious comedian taking a dark dramatic turn in I Smile Back. As wife and mother of two, Laney (Silverman) has a superficially picture-perfect life while underneath the front she is putting on, she struggles relentlessly against her inner demons of mental torment, alcoholism and drug addiction... read more

She’s Funny That Way
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Starring Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Rhys Ifans, Will Forte, Kathryn Hahn, Cybill Shepherd, Richard Lewis and Jennifer Aniston

by Ruth Thomson

Acclaimed writer/director Peter Bogdanovich has brought his first film in thirteen years to this year’s Venice Film Festival and has clearly had a good deal of fun with it along the way. Billed as a screwball comedy it certainly has a strong whiff of the past about it – as well as much that brings Woody Allen to mind, from the romanticized glow of New York City to the heartwarming presence of an endearing hooker, and his most convincing twenty first century leading man; the endlessly charming Owen Wilson… read more

Son of Saul
Directed by László Nemes
Starring Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár and Urs Rechn

by Joanna Orland

Son of Saul is by far the most profound, immersive Holocaust film ever made. It is completely unbelievable that this is director László Nemes’ first feature film. It is a true masterpiece… read more

Directed by Sarah Gavron
Written by Abi Morgan
Starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw and Meryl Streep

Suffragette is a hugely important and relevant story, but bleak and hollow in its execution.

A movie made by women to highlight the struggles of inequality that women have gone through to get the vote in the UK, and continue to go through in modern society, Suffragette should have focused on the star players of this movement such as Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) or Emily Davison (Natalie Press). Instead, the film focuses on Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) in what feels like a manufactured role whose purpose is to work as Oscar bait come awards season. While Maud is the focus, larger characters in the movement such as Davison and Pankhurst are reduced to a bit part and cameo appearance respectively. It’s hard to get on Maud’s side as Mulligan is a very meek actress, and while I feel empathy for the movement of the Suffragettes, I never feel the same way for the plight of Maud… read more

Our interviews and coverage from the Suffragette Opening Gala at the 59th BFI London Film Festival.


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