The fourth instalment of the BBC First British Film Festival is about to unspool in Palace Cinemas around Australia. With a mix of international award-winners, crowd favourites, and Australian premieres, this year’s films feature a star-studded line up of cinematic treats that dive directly into British culture, humour, and traditions.
The festival will open with the Australian premiere of Amma Asante’s period drama A UNITED KINGDOM, which comes directly from its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and opening of the 60th BFI London Film Festival. Starring David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) A UNITED KINGDOM is based on the book Colour Bar by Susan Williams. It tells the true story of young Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana (Oyelowo), who caused an international scandal when he married a white Englishwoman (Pike) in 1948.
The festival closer is A MONSTER CALLS, based on the acclaimed book by Patrick Ness and starring Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything); newcomer Lewis MacDougall; and Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List) as the voice of the monster. The visually spectacular film centres on a young boy who delves into a world of fantasy, imagination and monsters to deal with the reality of his mother’s terminal illness.
I, DANIEL BLAKE is the highly anticipated, Palme d’Or winning new film from acclaimed British director Ken Loach. Showcasing the director’s signature downbeat style, the film is a complex exploration of socio-economic issues in Britain. The film follows the titular 59-year-old carpenter, who after working as a joiner for most of his life in Newcastle injures himself and requires help from the state. He befriends Katie, a single mother with two young children, and the two form a mutually beneficial alliance.
Also straight from this year’s BFI London Film Festival comes TRESPASS AGAINST US, the narrative debut feature from up-and-coming British director Adam Smith. TRESPASS AGAINST US is a crime-thriller starring Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and Brendan Gleeson (Calvary). THEIR FINEST, the new romantic comedy from director Lone Scherfig (An Education), features a star-studded cast of British talent including Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games series) and Bill Nighy (Love Actually).
TOMMY’S HONOUR (directed by Jason Connery – actor-director son of Sean Connery) explores the complex dynamic between a father and son, telling the historical tale of Scottish champions and real-life founders of the modern game of golf, Tom Morris and his son, Tommy Morris.
This year’s retrospective section, dubbed LOCAL HEROES, includes 10 films that are curated to pay homage some of Britain’s cinematic heroes. The retrospective will feature a number of classic restorations, with titles including: ROOM AT THE TOP (1959), HIGHLANDER (1986), THE MAN WHO FELL FROM EARTH (1976), SID AND NANCY (1986), and rounding out the restored titles we have box office heroes CARRY ON CAMPING (1969) and CARRY ON UP THE KHYBER (1968) – these two films are part of the ‘Carry On’ franchise films, which went on to be the most successful British comedy film series of all time.
This is just a small selection of the titles from the 2016 BBC First British Film Festival program. The full program is now available at the Festival website.
Venues and dates for the 2016 BBC First British Film Festival are:
NSW: Tue 25 Oct – Wed 16 Nov Palace Verona, Palace Norton Street
VIC: Wed 26 Oct – Wed 16 Nov Palace Cinema Como, Palace Balwyn and Palace Brighton Bay and The Astor
QLD: Thu 27 Oct – Wed 16 Nov Palace Barracks
SA: Thu 3 Nov – Wed 23 Nov Palace Nova Eastend
WA: Thu 27 Oct – Wed 16 Nov Cinema Paradiso, Luna on SX and The Windsor
ACT: Thu 25 Oct – Wed 16 Nov Palace Electric
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television