British Film Festival Returns to Israel, With a Glimpse Into Modern Britain

After a two-year hiatus, the British Film Festival is back, with ten movies by new U.K. voices showing in seven cities across the country from February 4 to 15.

The British Film Festival is returning to Israel after a two-year hiatus, with a selection of movies by new and interesting voices that give audiences a glimpse into modern-day Britain.

The festival, the flagship event of the British Council in Israel, will be showing ten films in seven cities - Tel-Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem, Sderot, Rosh Pina, Holon and Herzliya - from February 4 to 15.

In the past, the program of choice U.K. movies has drawn some 20,000 cinema-goers across the country. This year, says British Council Arts Manager Naomi Michaeli, "We hope to have more"

The selection is certainly an eclectic one. The British Council wanted to showcase various aspects of contemporary British cinema, and most of the movies are by relatively new filmmakers.

The festival opens with Andrea Arnold’s remake of Emily Bronte’s classic nineteenth century novel, Wuthering Heights, and closes with the much anticipated Shame, directed by Steve McQueen, winner of the U.K’s top contemporary art award, the Turner Prize.

Other movies on show include Ralph Feines’ directorial debut, Coriolanus, and Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur, one of the biggest Sundance Festival winners of 2011, which Michaeli describes as “the kind of bleak, hard-hitting drama that British cinema is famous for.”

Perfect Sense starring Ewan McGregor and Eva Green will also be showing.

Along with the screenings, audiences will be able to meet up-and-coming British indy actor Tom Cullen, who stars in one of the Festival's featured movies, Weekend, which Michaeli describes as" a gem.”

Sandra Hebron, who was artistic director of the London Film Festival for 15 years, will share her insight into British and international cinema with audiences at screenings of Weekend on February 9 in Jerusalem, and Tyrannosaur, on February 10.

“We are proud to bring to Israeli audiences the best of new British cinema. The films represent the work of a new generation of British film makers giving us a fascinating peek into current day Britain,” says British Council Director in Israel, Simon Kay.

The festival is also a way for the British Council to promote Israeli-British cooperation in film. With the ratification the first Film Co-Production Treaty between the two countries in September last year, the British Council is hoping to see more cooperation in the future.

“Our priorities are very clear now,” says British Council Arts Manger Naomi Michaeli. “We want to invest a lot in creating co-productions between Israel and the U.K., it was really important for us to bring festival back and use it as a way of promoting film and invigorating dialogue.”

A run down of the movies on show:

Coriolanus (UK, 2011)
Director: Ralph Fiennes
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox, James Nesbitt, Jessica Chastain

Coriolanus, a feared Roman General, seeks the position of Consul. For that he must ingratiate himself with the masses. When the public refuse to support him, his anger prompts a riot which culminates in his expulsion. The banished hero then allies himself with his sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.
Fiennes' directorial debut is an impressive version of Shakespeare's play about power and political pragmatism. Fiennes perfectly captures the complexity of a man both terrifying and tragic, striking a fine balance between action and political intrigue.

(123 min., Eng., Heb. Sub)

Kill List (UK, 2011)
Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, MyAnna Buring

Eight months after a disastrous job in Kiev leaves him physically and mentally scarred, ex-soldier turned contract killer Jay, is pressured by his partner, Gal, into taking a new assignment. As they descend into the dark, disturbing underworld, Jay begins to unravel once again – his fear and paranoia sending him deep into the heart of darkness.
Michael Smiley won the Best Supporting Actor at the British Independent Film Award 2011.

(95 min., Eng., Heb. Sub)

Submarine (UK, 2010)
Director: Richard Ayoade
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine, Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige

Precocious Oliver struggles with being popular in school but when Jordana, a dark-haired beauty becomes interested in him, he's determined to become the best boyfriend in the world. Meanwhile, his parents' already rocky relationship is threatened when his mother's ex-boyfriend moves in next door. Oliver makes some unorthodox plans to ensure that his parents stay together and that Jordana still likes him. The film won best screenplay award at the British Independent Film Award 2011.

(94 min. Eng., Heb. Sub)

Tyrannosaur (UK, 2011)
Director: Paddy Considine
Cast: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan

Tyrannosaur is the story of Joseph, a man plagued by violence and rage that is driving him to self-destruction. As Joseph's life spirals into turmoil a chance of redemption appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker. An outstanding directorial debut by actor Paddy Considine, Tyrannosaur won 3 British Independent Film awards, including Best Film, Best Directorial Debut and Best Actress and won the Directing Award and Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

(91 min. Eng., Heb. Sub)

Weekend (UK, 2011)
Director: Andrew Haigh
Cast: Tom Cullen, Chris New, Laura Freeman

On a Friday night Russell heads out to a gay club, alone and on the pull. He picks up Glen but what's expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else. It is a brief encounter that will resonate throughout their lives. Weekend is an honest love story between two guys which won British Independent Films Awards, including Most Promising Newcomer for actor Tom Cullen, and many awards at international film festivals.

Wild Bill (UK, 2011)
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Cast: Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter, Liz White

Out on parole, Bill returns home to find his two sons abandoned by their mother and fending for themselves. His arrival has brought the family to the attention of social services and with the danger of being put into care, Dean, the eldest son, forces his reluctant Dad to temporarily stay. Bill’s next steps will show what sort of a Dad he really wants to be. Set in the East end of London, a building site for the Olympic Games, Wild Bill is the debut feature of actor Dexter Fletcher (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”)

(96 min. Eng., Heb. Sub)

Perfect Sense (UK, 2011)
Director: David Mackenzie
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner

Susan, a scientist, has given up on love, until she meets Michael, a talented chef. While Susan and Michael are experiencing unforeseen depths of feeling, all around the world people are also beginning to feel strange and something starts to change.
They find themselves embarking on a sensual adventure, experiencing head-spinning, stomach-tightening moments of pure connection. Is this because they are falling in love or is it because the world is falling apart? A life-affirming look at what it means to love and be loved in these turbulent times.

(90 min. Eng., Heb. Sub)

Wuthering Heights (UK, 2011)
Director: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, Nichola Burley, Steve Evets

What would you do if you were denied your soulmate?
A poor boy is rescued from poverty and taken in by the Earnshaw family where he develops an intense relationship with his young foster sister, Cathy. The passionate tale of Heathcliff and Cathy, two teenagers whose love for each other creates a storm of vengeance, is based on the classic novel by Emily Bronte. Andrea Arnold is one of the most prominent British directors of our times. Her films won numerous awards and were screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

(128 min. Eng., Heb. Sub)

The Bengali Detective (UK, 2011)
Director: Phil Cox

What happens when a population loses trust in its police and authorities? The boom of the private detective in today’s India is explored through the day to day investigations of Kolkata's Detective Rajesh Ji. The film follows the detective and his motley band of helpers on raids and investigations. And when he’s not working, Rajesh harbours a dream of becoming an international dance star - whilst trying to look after his desperately sick wife and small son.

(91 min. Eng. Hindi, Bengali, Eng. & Heb Sub)

Shame (UK, 2011)
Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan

Brandon is a successful thirty-something living in New York. As a distraction from day-to-day life, he seduces women, juggling a string of one-night stands.
This controlled rhythm of life begins to collapse when his wayward sister Sissy arrives for an unannounced visit. Her presence propels Brandon further into New York's dark underbelly as he tries to escape her needs and the memories she stands for.
Shame is a compelling examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us.

(101 min. Eng., Heb. Sub)

Coriolanus (UK, 2011)