Polish films featuring at UK Jewish Film Festival

The 15th UK Jewish Film Festival, which kicks off on November 1st and will last until the 20th, is screening a strong line-up of Polish films.

The titles include award winning drama Joanna, whose lead actress Urszula Grabowska won Best Actress at both the Polish Film Awards and the Moscow International Film Festival this year.

The story of a young man’s transformation from football hooligan to Orthodox Jew is documented in the riveting The Moon Is Jewish, with director Michał Tkaczynski attending for a Q&A, which will be preceded by The Girl From A Reading Primer, the extraordinary story of Alina Margolis-Edelman who as a child became a character in a famous Polish book, before moving to France to work tirelessly for Médecins Sans Frontières.

Shot on location in Poland, 8 Stories That Haven’t Changed The World is a journey through the lives and memories of eight people born between the years of 1914 and 1933, while My Australia is an unusual rites of passage drama that sees a young Polish boy move to 1960s Israel, and marks only the second ever Israeli – Polish co-production.

The details of the UKJFF Polish film line-up are:

Joanna on November 7th, 6.45pm, Tricycle; November 16th, 6.45pm, Everyman Hampstead

This multi-award winning World War Two drama from celebrated film and theatre director Feliks Falk sees pianist Joanna (Urszula Grabowska) go to church to pray for news of her husband at the front, only to stumble across petrified 8-year old Rose, a little Jewish girl who has managed to evade the Nazis. Joanna decides to hide Rose in her flat, but finds herself faced with tough decisions as her neighbours become suspicious, and matters are complicated further when she falls victim to denunciation, as well as having to contend with the romantic advances of a Nazi officer (Joachim Paul Assböck).

The Moon is Jewish on November 16th, 7.00pm, Odeon Swiss Cottage

This documentary follows Pawel’s extraordinary journey from football hooligan to strict Orthodox Jew in contemporary Warsaw. As a youngster on the football terraces Pawel ran with a crowd whose hatred for minorities is par for the course. But when he discovers his ancestors were Jewish, his world is turned upside down.  Completely changing his identity, he marries an Orthodox woman and begins a new life with his new family as an Orthodox Jew. With a lyrical thread from provocative poet Marcin S´wietlicki, this is an extraordinary film about conflicted identities in today’s Poland. Michał Tkaczynski will present after the screening to discuss his film.

The Girl From A Reading Primer is part archival, part animated portrait of Alina Margolis-Edelman, who as a child met Marian Faski, the author of Poland’s most popular teaching ‘primer’ and became one of the main characters in the book.  Attending school in the Warsaw Ghetto, Alina married the cardiologist and activist Mark Edelman, who eventually became leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. 

In 1968 the couple moved to France with their children and joined Doctors Without Borders, aka Médecins Sans Frontières, helping to save the lives of children worldwide.  An extraordinary portrait of an extraordinary woman.

My Australia on November 17th, 7.00pm, Kilburn Tricycle, is surprising and thought-provoking Israeli/Polish co-production charts the experiences of Tadek, a ten-year-old anti-Semitic boy in 1960s Poland, who yearns to live in Australia. Things get complicated when his older brother Andrzej involves him in a street gang that beats up Jewish children, whereupon Tadek's mother reveals she is actually a secret Jewish survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto. She tells Tadek his dream has come true and they are emigrating to Australia – though this turns out to instead be Haifa, Israel. When their mother fails to find employment, Tadek and Andrzej are dispatched to a kibbutz, and a culture shock they're ill-equipped to cope with. A film full of surprises that is only the second ever Israeli-Polish co-production.

8 Stories That Haven’t changed The World has its screening with the multi award winning documentary ‘The Hangman’ November 15th, 7.00pm, Kilburn Tricycle

8 Polish Jews born between 1914 and 1933 take us to the land of their youth, their first dreams and their adventures. The story refers to the characters’ earliest memories: what was the first book they read, how was their first day at school, when did they drink alcohol for the first time, what was the name of their first love?  These individual stories create a vivid image of a lost world preserved only in black and white films and in the last witnesses’ memories. A beautiful, moving account of both Jewish and Polish history.

The official trailer for the UK Jewish Film Festival, including such programme highlights as This Must Be The Place, Restoration, The Names of Love, The Rabbi's Cat, Rabies and Lipstikka: click here.

Festival runs 1 – 20 November. For more details visit


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