JEWS (3 x 60’)
This series offers a kaleidoscopic insight into Jewish life in Britain today. It documents the beliefs and culture of very different kinds of Jews, ranging from atheist and secular Jews through to fully observant ultra-orthodox Jews. The series looks at family histories, belief systems, relationships, and the psychology and meaning of what it is to be Jewish.
Ep 1 gives an exceptionally rare insight into ultra-orthodox Jewish life in a closed community in North London. With extraordinary access to the Haredi community in Stamford Hill, it tells the improbable story of Samuel Leibowitz, a 38 year old ultra-orthodox Jew born and raised in Stamford Hill, who has multiple convictions for drug smuggling. The film follows him as he emerges from nine years in prison and returns to his community. Filmed over five months, it documents his re-entry into ultra-orthodox life, as he attempts to overcome his transgressions and live once again as an observant Haredi Jew.
THE NEXT GENERATION
Ep 2 is about the psychological inheritance of the Holocaust and is a reflection on the second generation experience, exploring how the past informs the present and how history lives on inside our heads. The film features eight individuals who are the children of either refugees or survivors and examines the ways in which they are affected by their family histories. One woman carries the same name as the 6 year old daughter her mother lost in the camps. Another woman is so haunted by her mother’s mental collapse that she has relocated to Vienna to try to unearth the source of her family’s trauma. Despite their differing experiences, all the interviewees share a sense of rootlessness, as well as a deep-seated feeling that being Jewish is a dangerous thing to be.
KEEPING THE FAITH
Ep 3 is an observational documentary set in the Orthodox Jewish community in Hendon in North-West London. The subject of the film is the 52 year old millionaire philanthropist Jonathan Faith, former owner of high street chain Faith shoes. Having recently sold his company for millions of pounds, Jonathan embarks on a mission to reverse the decline in the size of the religious Jewish population. He hopes that by using marketing techniques he learnt in the footwear business, he can get the numbers back up.
Producer/director: VANESSA ENGLE
Camera: JOHANN PERRY
Sound: MARC HATCH
Assistant producer: ZARA AKESTER
Film editor: JAN CHOLAWO, SEAN MACKENZIE
Executive producer: NICK MIRSKY
Nominated and commended for the Grierson award for Best Documentary Series