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Unflinching accounts of Israeli life: Jewish Film Festival

Returning for its 25th year, the Jewish Film Festival kicks off on Sep 8 with 49 features, shorts and TV shows playing at various venues across Berlin. Through to Sep 17.

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Photo by Or Azulay. Unsettling is playing at this year’s Jewish Film Festival Berlin and Brandenburg.

The 25th Jewish Film Festival is comprised of 49 features, shorts and TV shows, to be screened at 14 venues across Berlin and Brandenburg. Some of the standouts boldly confront the tensions and contradictions that define contemporary Israeli society. Autonomies is a glossy dystopian miniseries which imagines that civil war has transformed Jerusalem into a walled-off Orthodox autonomy. Key to the story is Broide (Assi Cohen), who transports the bodies of secular Jews into the Holy Land for religious funerals and smuggles contraband (porn DVDs, pork) in their coffins. The deliberate pace sometimes feels at odds with the soapy plot, but it’s an engrossing ride. For a more grounded look at modern Israeli life, watch Unsettling, Iris Zaki’s portrait of a diverse West Bank settlement. From a chilling encounter with a proud fascist to a moving account of a woman who reconsidered her Israeli entitlement after being stabbed by a Palestinian teen, this brisk documentary is packed with riveting moments. M, another mustsee doc, channels the otherworldly vibe of Taxi Driver to tell the harrowing story of a singer determined to confront the ultra-Orthodox elders who raped him as a child.

Jewsish Film Festival Berlin & Brandenburg | Various venues, Sep 8-17