French comedy “The Names of Love” wins UK Jewish Film Festival

"The Names Of Love" (Le Nom des Gens), the sparkling romantic comedy from French writer/director Michel Leclerc, won  the 2011 UK Jewish Film Festival, at its 15th edition this year.

In ‘The Names Of Love’ Baya Benmahmoud (played by the award-winning French actress, Sara Forestier, above) a young, extrovert liberal lives by the old hippie maxim, “make love, not war” to convert right-wing men to her left-wing political causes by sleeping with them. She seduces many and receives exceptional results – until she meets Arthur Martin, a Jewish middle aged, middle-of-the road scientist (played by Jacques Gamblin). Bound by common tragic family histories (the Algerian War and Holocaust under Vichy), the duo improbably fall in love.  Sara Forestier won the César Award for Best Actress in 2011 for her role in the film which is titled ‘Le Nom des Gens’ in French.
Writer/director Michel Leclerc co-wrote the original screenplay of ‘The Names Of Love’ with Baya Kasmi; they won the Best Original Screenplay Award at the 2011 36th César Awards held in February at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris and presented by Jodie Foster.  A prolific writer of drama and comedy for film and TV, this is Michel’s second feature as writer/director.

This year’s inaugural SKY FILM AWARD was presented by Barry Skolnick, Creative Director at BSkyB on behalf of the winning film.

Although Michel Leclerc was unable to attend the ceremony due to filming commitments abroad, Barry Skolnick, Creative Director at BSkyB, read out a heartfelt statement from the popular French director:

“I am so sorry that I am not able to be with you tonight to receive this award – please do forgive me – but I am delighted and honoured to receive it.   We made this film to explore the obsessions of French society and I am impressed that this film, which for me is so very Francophone and French, has resonances that can speak to people outside of my native country.  In our multi-cultural world where people come from so many different places, questions of identity and origin become a crucial subject, and no more so of course than in England.  Personally, in terms of my own Jewish background, the thing which keeps me attached to this culture is humour.  I thank you once again. I am very touched by this prize.”

The UK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL teamed up with Sky this year to create the brand new SKY FILM AWARD to celebrate excellence in international filmmaking on Jewish themes.

The six festival films in competition were This Must be The Place (Dir. Paulo Sorrentino), Footnote (Dir. Joseph Cedar), The Names of Love (Dir. Michel Leclerc), Joanna (Dir. Feliks Falk), Crime After Crime (Dir. Yoav Potash) Precious Life (Dir. Shlomi Eldar).  The judging panel consisted of Barry Skolnik, Creative Director at BSkyB, Maggie Ellis, Head of Production & Talent Development at Film London and Simon Egan, founder of Bedlam Productions.

Sarmale: stuffed cabbage rolls from the Balkans

People don’t like foreigners. I know. People didn’t like me, refugee from the Nazis