Hampstead director presents short film at Jewish Film Festival

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Posted:
11:46 am on November 8, 2021



A short film about a Jewish farm will premiere at JW3 as part of the UK Jewish Film Festival.

Hampstead director Jess Benhamou made the three-minute film Sadeh with a grant from the festival’s documentary fund to tell an unusual story about Britain’s Jewish community.

Benhamou said the Kent Farm, which attracts a diverse group of Jewish and non-Jewish artists, environmental activists, pickers and Orthodox families staying at his “green hotel,” seemed like a good topic.


A still from Sadeh
– Credit: Cameron Axsel

“We wanted to move away from the idea that all UK Jews live in the suburbs or would never farm,” she said.

“We think the characters in Jewish films are funny or neurotic, but it was a step towards something more meditative.”


Sadeh

A still from Sadeh
– Credit: Cameron Axsel


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Sadeh focuses on Felix, a queer climate activist who lives on the farm.

“We went for a reconnaissance and it was a glorious stress-free day filming and doing interviews in the sun. Felix was incredibly articulate and someone new to the farm. In the edit, we set a focal point. on the old Jewish farm law of “Shmita,” that every seven years you have to leave the land fallow. It resonated with things people thought about during the pandemic, like the need for rest. “

Many members of the Sadeh community felt disconnected from Judaism for various reasons, but found their heritage and religion again through nature. As a documentary maker more accustomed to “darker topics” such as crime and investigative reporting, Benhamou says, “It’s lighter than my usual tenure but a nice change. Like many people, I have spent more time outdoors during the pandemic enjoying nature. “

She adds: “It is clearly important right now to tell different stories about the British Jewish community and to nurture filmmakers early in their careers. There is sometimes a reluctance to tell Jewish stories. Some I know said they were afraid to apply (for the fund) because everything Jewish suddenly seems very political. But it’s important to change the way people think about the Jewish community.


Jess Benhamou, director of Sadeh, based in Hampstead

Jess Benhamou, director of Sadeh, based in Hampstead
– Credit: Brittany Ashworth

“It’s been a process for me to start telling Jewish stories. I was reluctant, but I’m happier now to embrace it. No one wants to be locked up, but I’ve realized whether or not you want to be. considered to be just a person, people are going to make assumptions about who you are anyway. “

The UK Jewish Film Festival runs until November 14.


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