Never has it been more important to come together with pride to celebrate and share our stories and experiences through film. We are excited to present 85 films from 16 countries, including 51 UK premieres, at 21 cinemas in London, Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham. Being a Jewish film festival, we bring you both laughter and sadness, as well as films that will provoke lively debate, as reflected in our new strapline, “positively provoking”!

The UK Jewish Film Festival is a perfect opportunity to explore, among other things, three and a half centuries of continual Jewish presence in Britain. Why the Jews? unwraps, with intellectual rigour and humour, a unique culture of achievement. One of this year’s winners of our Pears Short Film Fund, 100 Faces, is a chance to enjoy and reflect on the diversity and creativity of Britain’s Jewish community in an iconic musical film that features one person born in every year from 1918 to 2018. Films such as The Patriot and The Waldheim Waltz provide an important opportunity to debate the key issues of our day, in particular the resurgence of antisemitism both here and across Europe.

Our international documentary programme is exceptionally strong this year and I urge you to enjoy DocDay on Sunday 11 November and experience cinematic gems that you are only likely to see at the Festival. Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me explores one of the Jewish entertainment icons of the 20th century; #work_in_progress throws together, reality TV style, characters from completely opposing sections of Israeli society; and The Patriot follows the life of one young vigilante fighting antisemitism in France.

UK Jewish Film is proud of its record in championing female filmmakers and women’s stories and this year we are delighted that 38% of our films will be from women filmmakers. This year’s Opening Night Gala film, Working Woman, is emblematic of the quality and depth of Israeli cinema. Our slate of contemporary Israeli films comprises 31 new titles. Highlights include the impressive and controversial Foxtrot; edgy drama from small town Israel such as the debut feature film, Virgins, and unexpected and quirky stories from the ultra-Orthodox community like Driver.

The UK Jewish Film Festival is determined to ensure that films reflecting Jewish life are part of the mainstream of British cinema and culture, and this intention has been underlined by our recently becoming the only Jewish film festival in the world to be selected as a qualifying festival for the prestigious BAFTA Awards.

Year-round we are busier than ever with hundreds of popular additional screenings at JW3, as well as at Phoenix, Reel Borehamwood, Cineworld in Manchester and CCA in Glasgow. Our education work includes an important new workshop programme that harnesses the power of film to combat antisemitism, and we will be bringing this to schools across Tower Hamlets from September.

I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to our ongoing success including our chairman Jonathan Lewis, our founder and president Judy Ironside MBE, our trustees, sponsors and supporters, our dedicated staff team, and of course you, our audiences.

Michael Etherton
Chief Executive, UK Jewish Film