‘The Man in the Basement’ Wins Top Prize at U.K. Jewish Film Festival

Philippe Le Guay’s “The Man in the Basement” scooped the top prize at the U.K. Jewish Film Festival on Sunday evening.

The 2021 film, which stars François Cluzet, Jérémie Renier and Bérénice Bejo, was awarded the prize for best film.

Runner-up “Karaoke,” from director Moshe Rosenthal, which had opened the festival earlier this month, was given a special mention.

The best film winner was selected by a jury comprised of “Made of Honor” director Paul Weiland, Kefi Chadwick, Liraz Chamami, producer Dominique Green, Sharon Levi and Michael Samuels.

“The jury was impressed by this tense thriller, with its strong performances and direction, and bristling with symbolism that intelligently explores France’s hidden history and contemporary issues around antisemitism,” they said in a statement. “‘The Man in the Basement’ confronts Jewish identity, Holocaust denial and attitudes to France’s Jewish minority, but yet the film still works effectively as compelling and suspenseful storytelling.”

Other prizes this evening included the best documentary award, which went to Ran Tal’s 1341 Frames of Love and War. The documentary jury was led by producer Teddy Leifer (“Icarus”) and also included Karen Adler, Vanessa Engle, Theo Merz, Stuart Urban and Marie- Pierre Valle.

“’1341 Frames of Love and War’ is a bold artistic endeavour infused with great warmth and humanity,” the jury said. “Featuring hundreds of photographs taken over many decades, the film celebrates the long and prolific career of photojournalist, Micha Bar-Am and the accumulative effect of his remarkable body of work. Ran Tal’s film subtly observes the relationship between Bar-Am and his wife and collaborator Orna, and draws our focus to the transitional nature of memory – both in its collective and personal forms. A significant achievement in production, the craft brought to this documentary by its filmmakers is truly impressive.”

The awards were announced at the U.K. Jewish Film Festival’s closing gala in London, hosted by critic and broadcaster Jason Solomons. The gala also featured a screening of Stéphane Freiss’ “Where Life Begins.”

The U.K. Jewish Film Festival’s in-person edition closed today and the online edition is set to run from Nov. 21-27.