26 films. 20 new releases. 17 Australian Premieres. Could I also interest you in a World Premiere? The ‘Best of British’ is back.
Having gained a strong foothold with audiences in the nation’s capital over the last few years, a delightful spread of films from the British Isles comes to Palace Electric Cinemas from 25 October – 15 November. Luxury Cruise Line Cunard is in tow as primary sponsor of this carnival of cinema.
The 2017 line-up boasts a compelling cross-section of features, documentaries and biopics, as well as two classics thrown in for good measure, and a spotlight on Agatha Christie – ‘Classic Mysteries from the Queen of Crime’ – to whet the appetite for the imminent release of the newest star-studded adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.
Opening Night brings us Andy Serkis’ feature directorial debut, a biographical drama starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy. Breathe is the stirring true story of Robin Cavendish (Garfield) and his wife Diana (Foy), a couple who struggled in the face of crippling physical adversity but chose not to let it blight them, ensuring they always lived life on their terms. Enjoy a pre-film reception with drinks, British fare and live music on Wednesday 25 October from 6:45pm. Film screening at 7:30pm.
Of a completely different tack, there will be a Special Event screening of documentary Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards, about iconic shoe designer Manolo Blahnik. This portrait of the now 74-year-old, who still retains full creative control of his brand, presents interesting insight into his formative years, as well as interviews from a who’s who of celebrities attesting to Blahnik’s legendary appeal. Enjoy this sophisticated soirée with a Bulldog Gin & Tonic or SOFI Spritz on arrival on Friday 27 October from 6:45 pm. Film screening at 7:15 pm.
The Official Selection category of the festival comprises 17 British offerings – 15 of which are brand new to our screens. Australian premieres aplenty, there is something for everyone, and even a local connection.
6 Days recounts the events of the Iranian Embassy crisis in London, 1980, when 26 people were taken hostage. SAS troops subsequently planned an unprecedented raid as the nightmare unfolded live via coverage from brazen BBC correspondent Kate Adie, played by Australia’s own Abbie Cornish (star of the award-hauling and partly-filmed-in-Canberra Somersault). Kiwi director Toa Fraser (The Dead Lands) helms this action/drama which grabs audiences by the throat.
Jawbone, the screenwriting debut of actor Johnny Harris (This Is England), is also set to pack a punch. In today’s fight-hype world of Macgregors and Mayweathers, boxing dramas have come thick and fast. Acclaimed for its authenticity, Jawbone is the autobiographical depiction of writer Harris’ youth as an amateur fighter. If you’re a fan of Raging Bull et al. hopefully this one connects with you.
Lighter fare from feted Scottish writer/director Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It, Veep, In The Loop) is another drawcard. The Death of Stalin is his acerbic historical satire of the power vacuum which ensued in the immediate aftermath of the Russian ruler’s demise. Boasting an all-star cast including Michael Palin, see Steve Buscemi (Fargo, Boardwalk Empire) as Nikita Krushchev.
Haifaa Al-Mansour (Wadjda) directs Elle Fanning in the biographical period drama Mary Shelley about the famed writer’s volatile relationship with poet Percy Shelley and the fateful night that birthed her hallowed and horrifying creation, Frankenstein.
Enjoy the music-oriented-musings of documentary Eric Clapton: Life In Twelve Bars, and the biographical drama England Is Mine which explores the early years of iconoclastic musician Steven Morrisey – a man with a now cult following.
For the family, don’t miss Swallows and Amazons – a plucky 1930s Lake District adventure about friendship, ingenuity and tenacity.
Ireland’s Saoirse Ronan stars in On Chesil Beach, a melancholic love story about a newly married couple in the 1960s which is director Dominic Cooke’s feature-film-debut-adaptation of the acclaimed Ian McEwan short novel.
The Journey recounts the profound impact of two men from opposing sides of the political spectrum during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
It befits the festival to bid farewell to the late, great John Hurt (The Elephant Man, Midnight Express) in one of his final screen appearances as a terminally-ill writer confronting his looming mortality and reconciling with his family in That Good Night. By all accounts, it is yet another sterling performance delivered by a man who notched up an incredible 200+ screen credits.
Flowers, high-drama and a stellar cast also get a look-in with Tulip Fever, which is set to enjoy wide release beyond the festival very soon.
There’s a tip of the hat to British mystery with Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1967 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner Blow-Up and a timely screening of the ground-breaking 1961 noir Victim which would help to shape the subsequent amendment of homosexuality laws in Britain.
The suite of Agatha Christie mysteries serves up four classics – three Poirots and a Marple: Death On the Nile, Evil Under the Sun, Murder on the Orient Express and The Mirror Crack’d.
If that wasn’t enough, Closing Night should prove a real treat. Finish the festival on a high with the World Premiere of Finding Your Feet, an effervescent feel-good romantic comedy about starting over. Now in her third age and following divorce from her husband of 40 years, ‘Lady’ Sandra Abbott (Imelda Staunton) gets a second wind through her vivacious sister’s community dance class. Co-starring Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner) and Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous). Enjoy a pre-film reception with drinks and live entertainment from 6:15pm. Then find your seat and kick up your feet from 7:00pm.
Pick up the Official Programme at Palace Electric Cinemas in NewActon. You can also find all details of the festival here.
Keep calm and attend the British Film Festival 2017.