What to Watch

10 Must-See Films at UK Jewish Film Festival 2021

As the 25th edition comes to both cinemas and streaming, we highlight our picks for the most essential features...

Here at WeLoveCinema, we're relishing yet another installment of the UK Jewish Film Festival 2021, which runs between 4-18 November. Now in it 25th edition, this year's festival takes place in both cinemas countrywide and online, offering a celebration of Jewish and Israeli life through dozens of feature films and documentaries from across the globe.

As such, we've picked our must-see titles from 2021's diverse line-up. It's not an exhaustive list, by any means, and there are plenty more films worth checking out than the ones highlighted here (for a full list of titles and showtimes, visit our dedicated festival page). In partnership with the festival, we're also offering a discount on Online Viewing Passes – but hurry, there are only a limited amount available!

 

Thou Shalt Not Hate

Set in Italy, this gripping debut from filmmaker Mauro Mancini stars Alessandro Gassmann and hinges on a decision made following a road accident that will echo through the lives of a Jewish surgeon and the daughter of a Neo Nazi. It was also winner of the Best Italian Film and Best Actor awards at the Venice International Film Festival (get showtimes and tickets).

 

Neighbours

Kurdish-Swiss director Mano Khalil helms this poignant examination of war, as seen through the eyes of a young boy living in a village on the Turkish-Syrian border in the early 80s. Inspired by the director's own childhood, it's a bittersweet but never sentimental look at growing up at the height of a conflict (get showtimes and tickets).

 

Tuning

This entertaining, life-affirming documentary centres around the piano located at the Tel Aviv Savidor Central railway station, which attracts a number of musicians to its keys on a daily basis. Offering a brilliant microcosm of Israeli society, the film exemplifies the way that music can bring us together in a divisive age (get showtimes and tickets).

 

Ziyara

French-Jewish documentarian Simone Bitton hits the road in this insightful film that follows her back to her home country of Morocco. As much a vivid travelogue as it is a personal probing of the filmmaker's own Jewish heritage, it makes for an arresting journey through a world that is both modern and ancient (get showtimes and tickets).

 

Soros

Jesse Dylan's well-judged documentary will appeal to those both familiar and unfamiliar with the controversial Hungarian businessman George Soros, now in his 90s, who survived the concentration camps and went on to become one of the richest people in the world, donating billions to humanitarian causes in the process (get showtimes and tickets).

Two

This uplifting film follows the plight of a lesbian couple, Omer and Bar, as they navigate the uneasy waters of getting pregnant through artificial sperm donation. Directed by Israeli filmmaker Astar Elkayam, it makes for a very modern meditation on relationships, family, and ethics, told with heaps of empathy (get showtimes and tickets).

 

The Meaning of Hitler

Decades after Hitler's death, the world's collective fascination with the most reviled figure in modern history is yet to dwindle. Based on Sebastian Haffner’s acclaimed 1978 book, this unmissable documentary sets out to grapple with the legacy of of Hitler's campaign of evil and what it means in the context of the modern world (get showtimes and tickets).

 

The Lucky Star

This special screening, in collaboration with the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, offers a chance to see a largely forgotten 1980 Canadian film. The plot concerns a Jewish boy who escapes from the hell of war-torn Amsterdam by imagining himself in American western movies. Starring Rod Steiger and Louise Fletcher, it's a curio well worth seeking out (get showtimes and tickets).

 

Final Account

This acclaimed and chilling documentary from the late filmmaker Luke Holland was more than ten years in the making. Culled from over 250 interviews, it offers an unprecedented and remarkable look into the last generation of living Germans who participated in Hitler's Third Reich, asking: how did normal people go alone with such atrocities? (get showtimes and tickets).

 

Sin La Habana

Vibrant, lively filmmaking with an irresistible premise, as Cuban dance teacher Leonardo sets out to make one of his foreign students – Iranian-Jewish Nasim – fall in love with him as a means of moving abroad. Of course, since he's already married, things don't quite go to plan. Directed with colour and compassion by Kaveh Nabatian, this one's the Closing Night Gala pick for a reason (get showtimes and tickets).

The UK Jewish Film Festival 2021 runs from the 4 to 18 November 2021. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the official site.

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Reviews

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn review – raucously funny takedown of modern society

Rude, irreverent, stupid and yet cuttingly witty and intelligent, Radu Jude’s Berlin winner is like Brass Eye by way of Slavoj Žižek

Encanto review – lively Disney animation can’t escape a muddled story

The House of Mouse's 60th animated feature is gorgeous to look at, but it's let down by a confusing narrative and forgettable songs

Lapwing review – 16th-century drama of bristling brutality

Philip Stevens’ unsettling debut, set on the Lincolnshire coast, tells of a forbidden romance between a mute woman and a Romani man

Pirates review – zippy and funny ’90s nostalgia trip

Reggie Yates' directorial debut, set over the course of a single New Year's Eve in London, is both deeply personal and light as a feather