The British Film Festival celebrates the best of British with a line-up of 31 films, many of which are screening for the first time in Australia. This year’s event includes the best in contemporary cinema, documentaries and some of the most significant British films of the 1970s on the big screen.
The Festival opens with the highly anticipated Australian premiere of The Duke, a heart-warming tale based on a 1961 true story of 60-year-old taxi driver Kempton Bunton who steals Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London, featuring beautiful performances from Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren.
Kenneth Branagh writes and directs Belfast, a personal eulogy to his hometown that’s garnering Oscar buzz. Starring Jamie Dornan and Judi Dench, the film is a poignant story of love, laughter and loss in one boy’s childhood, set amidst the music and social turmoil of the late 1960s Northern Ireland.
Edgar Wright’s psychological horror fantasy Last Night in Soho starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie, follows an aspiring fashion designer who is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer. The director has issued a message for patrons, urging them not to divulge the plot so as not to spoil it for others. Premiering at this year’s Cannes Film Festival’s Directors Fortnight, writer-director Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava is a compelling contemporary love story set in multi-cultural Bradford. Enveloped in music and imbued with humour, the film stars Adeel Akhtar and Claire Rushbrook. Comedy drama Best Sellers stars British icon Sir Michael Caine as a cranky, retired author who reluctantly embarks on a final book tour.
Documentary highlights include My Father and Me, a personal film from acclaimed documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield about his relationship with his father, renowned industrial photographer Maurice Broomfield. And for music lovers Eric Clapton: Lockdown Sessions, is an intimately staged concert film from Clapton and his band, following the recording of a new live album, featuring acoustic renditions of past hits, and filmed in the English countryside during the pandemic.
This year’s retrospective – 7 From the 70s – features a sublime selection of the best British films from the 1970s, four of which celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2021. The seven are Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic A Clockwork Orange (1971); also from Kubrick, Barry Lyndon (1975); John Schlesinger’s multi award winning Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971); Sam Peckinpah’s psychological thriller Straw Dogs (1971); Franc Roddam’s Quadrophenia (1979), based on The Who’s 1973 rock opera of the same name; The Go-Between (1971) directed by Joseph Losey with a screenplay by Harold Pinter; and finally the wonderful family film, The Railway Children (1970), adapted from Edith Nesbit’s much-loved 1906 novel of the same name.
The full program and tickets for the British Film Festival are now on sale, including the limited pre-Festival release of specially priced eTicket Bundles, exclusively at Palace Cinemas. For more details head to www.britishfilmfestival.com.au.
The British Film Festival will take place nationally from 3 November to 1 December in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra, Byron Bay from 3 – 21 November. In Melbourne the Festival opens on 5 November, when cinemas are allowed to re-open, until 1 December.
The British Film Festival screens in the following locations:
Sydney: 3 Nov – 1 Dec, Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinemas, Palace Central
Canberra: 3 Nov – 1 Dec, Palace Electric Cinemas
Melbourne: 5 Nov – 1 Dec, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Kino Cinemas, Pentridge Cinemas and The Astor Theatre
Brisbane: 3 Nov – 1 Dec, Palace Barracks and Palace James Street
Adelaide: 3 Nov – 1 Dec, Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinemas
Perth: 3 Nov – 1 Dec, Palace Raine Square, Luna on SX, Leederville and Windsor
Byron Bay: 3 – 21 Nov, Palace Byron Bay
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- British Film Festival 2020 – movie feature
- St ALi Italian Film Festival 2021
- Italian Film Festival 2020 – movie feature
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television