I’m often told that there is no such thing as a Jewish film, yet the UK Jewish Film Festival, which now has the largest Jewish film festival programme in the world, and continues to grow in audience numbers year on year, shows that there are many who would disagree.

We are the UK’s only film festival dedicated to telling stories about Jewish life and experience, and the majority of the films we show would not otherwise make it to your local cinema or online streaming service. Our mission is to promote and highlight the importance of Jewish culture within British society, whilst giving British Jewish people a stronger sense of pride and identity.

This year’s festival, our 23rd, brings you more than 95 extraordinary films from 24 countries. New for this year is a truly UK-wide national tour, supported by the BFI’s Audience Fund, which presents highlights of the festival in 21 towns and cities across England, Scotland and Wales.  From Inverness to Brighton and Bangor to Norwich, we will reveal wonderful snapshots of Jewish life to diverse audiences who may not otherwise have any interaction with Jewish culture.

We are excited to bring you our four powerful gala films, which span Jewish comedy, international politics, and the world of espionage. Our Opening Night Gala comedy, My Polish Honeymoon, exemplifies a contemporary state of mind – two young people, both completely at ease with their French and Jewish identities, are unnerved by ominous echoes of Europe’s troubled past. Jojo Rabbit from award-winning New Zealand director, Taika Waititi, brings us an astonishing comic and satirical tour-de-force depicting the Third Reich from the perspective of a ten-year-old boy. The Centrepiece Gala’s tense spy thriller The Operative stars Diane Kruger and Martin Freeman, whilst The Human Factor is an engrossing insiders’ perspective on the highs and lows of the 1990s Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

We are delighted that, as well as being the first Jewish film festival to be BAFTA qualifying, we are now also a qualifying festival for the British Independent Film Awards. For 2019 we will be launching a new Best Documentary Film Award with a jury comprising some of the most important players in the UK’s documentary film industry. Meanwhile audiences have the chance to select their favourite film through the Audience Award and we urge you to vote through our website, from 6th November.

We also bring you films that mark notable cinematic milestones including the 20th anniversary of the beautiful and troubling Jewish-Welsh epic, Solomon and Gaenor, the 10th anniversary of the Coen Brothers’ wry comedy classic, A Serious Man, and the 30th anniversary of the delightful Oscar-winning comedy, Driving Miss Daisy. Don’t miss that all time classic Fiddler on the Roof, subtitled so that those who want to can sing along with abandon.

We also support a new generation of filmmakers through our Pears Short Film Fund at UK Jewish Film so please join us for the world premieres of On the Beaches and Home on Monday 11th November at the Phoenix.

Thank you to all of you for your incredible support, and I wish you an enjoyable and entertaining festival.

Michael Etherton

Chief Executive