British & Yiddish Film Festivals in February

February may have been the cruelest month for T. S. Eliot, but for Bay Area movie lovers, it’s not that bad. Here are two festivals running in 2019’s second month.

Mostly British Film Festival

February 14 – 21

If you like foreign films, but hate subtitles, this is the festival for you. None of the movies are from the USA, but they’re all in English.

Most of the films are new, but some have been shown in the Bay Area before. I’ve seen two of them:

The King’s Speech, Monday, February 18, 8:45

This 2010 Oscar winner shows the absurdity of the Royal Family while humanizing a decent, shy man who never wanted to be king. George VI (Colin Firth) has a very bad stammer, so he turns to an Australian speech expert Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush at his most impish). And it’s this immigrant commoner’s disregard for tradition and class structure that saves the king. Read my full review.

Swimming With Men, Tuesday, February 19, 7:00

A very conventional, predictable, but also entertaining British comedy in the Full Monty tradition, filled with a lot of vaguely recognizable English actors. Accountant Eric (Rob Brydon) is deeply unhappy in his job and worries that his wife is cheating on him. Then he joins a synchronized swimming team made up of middle-aged, mostly out-of-shape men. From that point on, the story becomes extremely conventional. But it has enough laughs to make it worth seeing. Read my full review.

And here are some other films that look very tempting:

  • Flammable Children: An Australian comedy about growing up the wild 1970s.
  • Looking For Lennon: This documentary examines the Liverpool in which John Lennon and his mates became The Beatles.
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral: I saw this 1994 romantic comedy when it was new. I likrf it then, and I just might like it now.
  • Black ’47: A film about Ireland’s Great Famine of 1847, a disaster made worse by the island’s English overlords.
  • Peterloo: The story of a 1819 massacre, where the British army gunned down peaceful protesters. Directed by the great Mike Leigh.


Jewish Film Festival WinterFest

February 16 – 17
New Mission & Roxie

The big San Francisco Jewish Film Festival happens in the summer. But every February, the Jewish Film Institute runs a short, two-day festival.

I haven’t seen any of these films, so I can’t recommend any (nor can I warn you about the bad ones), but here are some that caught my attention:

  • Untogether: Any movie with Billy Crystal as “a politically engaged rabbi” can’t be all bad. This one is apparently about a recovering alcoholic, her sister, writing, and an aging rock star. New Mission, Saturday February 16, 8:15.
  • Carl Laemmle: This documentary covers the life of one of Hollywood’s original pioneers – the man who created Universal Pictures. He also saved a lot of Jews from the Holocaust. Roxie,
    Sunday, February 17, 12:00.
  • Redemption (Geula): A former rock singer, now ultraorthodox, must find a way to raise money for his young son’s cancer treatments. Roxie,
    Sunday, February 17, 5:45.