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The Brighton Jewish Film Festival

Sometimes life hands you an idea and you make a film festival! And since Brighton has a long and estimable tradition of film and cinema, I was in the right place and 1997 was the right time to start the Brighton Jewish Film Festival (BJFF). The first opening night was held in November at what… Read more »

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Sometimes life hands you an idea and you make a film festival! And since Brighton has a long and estimable tradition of film and cinema, I was in the right place and 1997 was the right time to start the Brighton Jewish Film Festival (BJFF).

The first opening night was held in November at what was then the Brighton Cinematheque, coincidentally situated facing the glorious and inspirational Middle Street Synagogue. If an omen was required then this was a good one.

With the commitment of a great team – we were all volunteers, including Nigel Berman and Stuart Toff – we set to work.

The Brighton Jewish Film Festival brought the best of international films with Jewish themes to Brighton audiences.  From the very first year, Holocaust Memorial Day workshops were given free to local schools and Chana Moshenska ran these powerful educational screenings of films and discussions with directors and speakers.  Local history also featured and filmmaker Luke Holland recorded many inspiring interviews with local people who shared their stories and their immense knowledge of the local communities throughout the century.

Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE was the first honorary president of the festival and he took his role very seriously, most especially because he had his first job in a cinema in Lancing.   Sir Sydney held annual celebrity interviews during the BJFF with wonderful personalities including Stephen Fry, Jack Rosenthal and Zoe Wanamaker.

During the five years of the festival in Brighton there were many ‘sold out’ screenings at the Duke of York cinema. The documentary films, with sometimes challenging and always stimulating discussions, mostly continued at the Cinematheque.

Brighton has always been a place of innovation and the Brighton Jewish Film Festival’s loyal supporters and audiences created a wonderful start for what was to become the UK Jewish Film Festival – a national and international fixture on

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