The Christmas Candle (U, 100 mins)
Britain's Got Talent finalist Susan Boyle makes her feature film acting debut in John Stephenson's festive drama. Progressive young minister David Richmond (Hans Matheson) arrives in Gladbury, nestled deep in the English countryside.
He learns of a local legend which states that every 25 years, an angel descends on Gladbury and blesses a candle. Whoever lights this candle and says a prayer will be granted a Christmas wish. David doesn't believe the myth and he encourages his congregation to abandon their reliance on the candle for miracles.
The modernisation of Gladbury gives church warden Herbert Hopewell (James Cosmo) and his wife Eleanor (Boyle) cause for grave concern. However, it does pique the interest of religious sceptic Emily Barstow (Samantha Barks), who is drawn to David at the very moment that the minister's mission is thrown into jeopardy by the disappearance of the supposedly anointed candle.
Fill the Void (U, 91 mins)
Rama Burshtein directs this moving Israeli drama about an 18-year-old girl living in Tel Aviv, who is pressurised into an arranged marriage to appease her grief-stricken loved ones. Yochay (Yiftach Klein) is devastated when his wife Esther (Renana Raz) dies in childbirth on Purim.
The arranged marriage of Esther's younger sister Shira (Hadas Yaron) is put on hold to allow the family to mourn their loss. After some time for reflection, Yochay's mother speaks to Esther's mother, Rivka (Irit Sheleg), and suggests that it would be best for her son and his little boy, Mordechai, if Yochay were to remarry.
Rivka is horrified by the prospect of losing her grandson so she makes a bold proposal: that Yochay marries Shira. Even though Shira possesses no romantic feelings towards her brother-in-law, she agrees to go along with the plan to keep everyone happy but the relationship causes friction within the local community, not least with the rabbi (Melech Thal), who can clearly see that Shira doesn't love Yochay.
Cinema Paradiso (15, 171 mins)
A welcome re-issue of Giuseppe Tornatore's delicately observed and nostalgic celebration of cinema, which centres on a film director returning home to his small Sicilian village after more than 30 years absence. Looking back on his magical childhood, the director remembers his friendship with Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), the ageing projectionist at the Cinema Paradiso picture palace, who encouraged his love of the moving image. He also reminisces about his doomed romance with Elena, the love of his teenage life, who was spirited away from him in the years following the Second World War and who represented a romantic ideal which he believed only existed on the silver screen. The wonderful Noiret and young Salvatore Cascio give tour-de-force performances as the friends across generations whose filmic passions have dramatic effects on small-town life.