More than 1,000 seats have been filled at Manchester cinemas since last week’s opening of the UKJewish Film Festival — just half way through the 10-film programme.
Hundreds of Jews and non-Jews gathered at a reception before the opening night at Cineworld, Didsbury, for the UK premiere of stylish French film The Art Dealer.
The audience reflected the cross-communal nature of the co-ordinating committee, which includes Orthodox and Reform members hailing from north and south Manchester.
The atmosphere took a chilling dive two nights later when the audience was plunged into the real-life horror of the kidnapping, torture and murder of 23-year-old Parisian Jew Ilan Halimi.
Simply titled 24 Days — the length of Ilan’s unbearable ordeal — the film, starkly evoking the suffering of Ilan and all his family, played to a stunned audience, many of whom left in tears.
The following day’s film, at the Cornerhouse, proved to be an antidote to audience suffering, although we will still be for ever haunted by Ilan Halimi.
The Sturgeon Queens, telling the story of Russ & Daughters, the famous 100-year-old New York cornucopia of lox and herring, had the audience in fits of laughter as the characters told anecdotes of family quibbles and customer quirks.
“Why can’t we watch our salmon being sliced?” demanded an audience member of Stanley Hyman, former proprietor of Titanics deli in the after-show Q & A with him and his cousin Clarissa Hyman, an award-winning food writer.
They are the grandchildren of the Titanic survivor who founded the business.
Menorah Synagogue needed to stretch its auditorium to capacity to accommodate the sellout performance of Hanna’s Journey.
More than 200 people enjoyed this unusual film about a non-Jewish German girl’s encounters in Israel. She only went to improve her CV — but she was surprised by the consequences.
Above and Beyond, a documentary about the volunteers from abroad who reputedly turned the tide of the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, marked the half-way point in the festival. Still to come are:
Magic Men: Saturday, November 15 (8.30pm), at Cineworld Didsbury. An Israeli drama with comic moments about a father’s complex relationship with his charedi son and their adventures.
The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films: Sunday, November 16 (4.30pm) at Cineworld.
Bethlehem: Tuesday, November 18 (6.30pm) at the Cornerhouse. Powerful film about the relationship between a Mossadnik and his teenage Palestinian informant.
Friends From France: Thursday, November 20 (7.30pm) at Cineworld.
Kidon: Sunday, November 23 (7pm) at Cineworld.
IT’S wise to book — both Cineworld and the Cornerhouse report high ticket sales:
www.cornerhouse.org/film (0161-200 1500); www.cineworld.co.uk/cinemas/didsbury (0871-200 2000).