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The UK Jewish Film Festival announce 2019 Awards prize winners

On the closing day of the 2019 edition of the festival, UK Jewish Film Festival’s Jury announce the Jury prize winners, including the newly launched Best Documentary Award.  The UK Jewish Film Festival Awards recognise achievement in both fiction and documentary feature-length films. Broadcaster and film writer Jason Solomons will MC the award ceremony today, Thursday 21 November, at Picturehouse Central in London.


The Best Debut Feature Award has been announced as Leona, directed by Isaac Cherem. The film received its UK premiere at this year’s UK Jewish Film Festival. The Award recognises new filmmaking talent that displays originality and freshness of vision from a first time feature film director.


The jury have called Leona "A sensitive and engaging story, told with great charm and simplicity, and with excellent performances elicited particularly from the female lead, Naian González Norvind. The jury were impressed by the subtle portrayal of family dynamics and felt that, as a debut film, ‘Leona' is remarkable in having the assured feel of a director of considerable experience.”


Films in competition for this award were Fig Tree, God of the Piano, The Humorist, Leona, My Polish Honeymoon and The Unorthodox


The Dorfman Best Film Award has been announced as Dolce Fine Giornata, directed by Jacek Borcuch. The film received its UK premiere at this year’s UK Jewish Film Festival. The Award will be presented by producer Jane Barclay, and it recognizes powerful and outstanding filmmaking. Producer Jane Barclay will present the Dorfman Best Film Award.


The jury commented: "An accomplished and ambitious drama that tackles a broad political question from an unusual angle. It is beautifully written and shot, with an excellent performance from Krystyna Janda, who portrays a complex and nuanced character. It is the work of a confident filmmaker, deftly fusing family melodrama with a powerful political statement." 


Films in competition for this aware were Dolce Fine Giornata, Flawless, Jojo Rabbit, My Polish Honeymoon, Stripped and The Unorthodox.


The Best Documentary Award has been announced as Advocate, directed by Philippe Bellaiche and Rachel Leah Jones. The film was screened at this year’s UK Jewish Film Festival. The Award recognizes originality and excellence in documentary filmmaking.


The jury commented: Having a heroic protagonist at its centre, ‘Advocate’ is a fascinating character study of a determined woman who, for decades, has fought relentlessly for her beliefs, undeterred by the fact she has never won any of her legal battles. It is extremely hard to create an effective observational documentary - a mode of filmmaking where there is no script or clear structure to follow - and equally hard to make an interesting documentary about legal processes. Despite these challenges, directors Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche - bravely engaging with contemporary politics and masterly using archival footage and animation - have created a complex, compelling and important film.”


Films in competition for this award were Advocate, Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles, The Human Factor, It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story, The Last Resort and The State against Mandela and the Others.


Young Jury Award for Best Short Film: For the first time this year, UK Jewish Film has launched the Young Jury Award to select and present the best short film during the festival. A jury of ten people aged eighteen to thirty have watched, critiqued and debated a fantastic selection of new Jewish films from which they have selected their favourites.


The winning short film was How To Swim, directed by Noa Gusakov.


The jury commented: “A charming, engaging and entertaining comedy based on an original and relatable premise. The jury thought the characters were warm, believable and funny and that the film touched everyone’s heart.”


The 2019 Audience Award will be announced later this week.


The UK Jewish Film Festival took place from 6th – 21st November at 15 cinemas across London. A UK tour of festival highlights to 21 towns and cities across England, Scotland and Wales will run until 12th December. More than 15,000 visitors attended to date and many thousands more are expected nationwide over the coming three weeks.


This year’s programme, comprising 99 films, plus Q&As and discussions with directors, actors, politicians, journalists and others, is the largest Jewish film festival programme in the world. The film programme includes 4 world premieres, 5 European premieres, 46 UK premieres, and films from 25 countries, including 25 films from the UK.


Michael Etherton, Chief Executive of UK Jewish Film commented: “This year’s jury award winners at the UK Jewish Film Festival are notable in reflecting an unusual propinquity between film and current affairs. We are proud to announce the three winning films from Poland, Mexico and Israel, all exceptional and impressive productions that take nuanced and challenging perspectives on key issues of our day including racism, antisemitism, Middle East politics and interfaith relations.” 


Jury Award Winners:



Film title


Isaac Cherem


Best Debut Feature Award

Jacek Borcuch

Dolce Fine Giornata

Dorfman Best Film Jury Award

Philippe Bellaiche, Rachel Leah Jones


Best Documentary Award

Noa Gusakov

How To Swim

Young Jury Award for Best Short Film


The jury who selected the winners: 


Best Debut Feature Award

Tammy Einav

Chief Executive of Adam & Eve/DDB

Satwant Gill

Freelance film consultant and one of the Board of Directors of Women in Film and Television UK

Marc Goldberg

Producer, Final Score

Ofir Raul Graizer

Director, The Cakemaker

Linda Kelsey

British Journalist and Author

Jason Solomons

British Film Critic, Journalist and Broadcaster


Dorfman Best Film Jury

Jane Barclay

Producer, Blinded By The Light

Roanna Benn

Joint Managing Director of Drama Republic

Phil de Semlyen

Global Film Editor, Time Out

James Kent

Director, Testament of Youth

Jane Lush

Chairman of BAFTA

Dan Mazer

Screenwriter and Director, Da Ali G Show, Borat


Best Documentary Award Jury

Nick Fraser

Co-Founder of Docsville

Anna Godas

CEO of Dogwoof

Laura Granditer

Founder and Managing Director of Immediate Films

Wendy Ide

Renowned film critic

Charlie Phillips

Head of Video, The Guardian

Tim Wardle

Director, Three Identical Strangers


Young Jury Award for Best Short Film

Jessica Benhamou

Gracie Briton

Shivam Chowdary

Hannah Collins

Dan Daniel

Abe Dein

Adam Goot

Grace Han

Clara Helbig

Edd Kahn

Hannah Radley

Eliza Saunders


All UK Jewish Film Festival Press enquiries:

Elizabeth Taylor: / +44 (0)20 7292 8396

Charlotte Moore: / +44 (0)20 7292 8397

Jamie Rushden: / +44 (0)207 292 6433




The UK Jewish Film Festival is an annual film festival dedicated to British and world cinema that explores Jewish life, history and culture. It was founded in 1997 and takes place in November, in London and tours to other UK towns and cities. The festival is part of UK Jewish Film, a registered charity, which also:


  • Delivers film education programmes for young people exploring racism, antisemitism and interfaith issues;
  • Provides training and networking opportunities for new and emerging filmmakers through its Film Lab programme;
  • Commissions two new short films each year through its Pears Short Film Fund at UK Jewish Film:
  •               Organises film festivals abroad including, since 2011, the annual Geneva International Jewish Film Festival in Switzerland.


UK Jewish Film, whose President is its founder, Judy Ironside MBE, is chaired by Jonathan Lewis. Its Chief Executive is Michael Etherton. Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE was the Festival's Honorary President from 1997 to 2005. The Festival, which was initially the Brighton Jewish Film Festival, became a national event in 2003 and was renamed the UK Jewish Film Festival. UK Jewish Film’s motivation was to promote respect and understanding about Jewish cultures worldwide. In 2015 Michael Etherton was appointed as Chief Executive of UK Jewish Film. 


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