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This collection uncovers insights, injustices and hidden histories across a century of Jewish life on British screens. It brings together documentary and first-person accounts of Jewish life in the UK, alongside historical dramas and artists’ work exploring the 20th century Jewish experience.
The earliest surviving depictions of Jewish characters in British cinema offer a troubling insight into antisemitic representation, yet prejudice was later tackled head-on, with newsreels documenting the anti-fascist movement of the 1930s.
Drop in on joyous family weddings and community gatherings, and see the ways in which UK Jewry supported Jews young and old, and those fleeing persecution, in a selection of fascinating films from the 1900s to the 1980s.
As a record of the 20th century the collection obviously tackles the trauma of conflict and war, but it also shines a spotlight on resilience and celebrating the strength of community. Here you can also drop in on joyous weddings from the 1920s to the 1980s, Marriage of Miss Rose Carmel and Mr. Solly Gerschcowit (1925), Wedding of Thelma and Danny, 11th August 1946 (North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University), Lynne’s Wedding (1980) (Yorkshire Film Archive) as well as colourful snapshots of everyday family life at work, rest and play.
Through early comedy shorts, rare newsreel footage and local television news reports, documentaries, charity appeals contemporary short films, experimental work produced by the BFI and British-made historical epic, the collection paints a portrait of Jewish life across the UK and Northern Ireland, with films from Regional Archive partners; Screen Archive South East, East Anglian Film Archive, North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University, Yorkshire Film Archive and Northern Ireland Screen as well as the BFI’s National Archive collections. From Robert Vas’s record of the ‘lost’ streets of London’s traditionally Jewish East End in his classic documentary, The Vanishing Street (1962) including the film’s raw material, to an insider’s view of local Jewish communities living in Manchester, Autumn in Delamere (1969) (North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University), Leeds, Sharonah Dance and Modern Food Store (1975) (Yorkshire Film Archive) and Belfast’s Jewish Community in Ulster (1966) (Northern Ireland Screen) identity is explored within a wider British cultural context.
Source: Jewish Britain on Film