The British Film Festival is back for 2018—and all we can say is it's a cinematic romp through the Isles featuring the best of British film talent. No joke, the line-up is a scorching hot agenda of BAFTA likelies, vintage classics, and a Michael Caine tribute of four films including Alfie and the King of Thieves.
We struggled to whittle this down because literally everything on the schedule has our eyes a-poppin, but here are our top 7 must-see movies at this year's British Film Festival.
Kick things off on opening night is the Australian premiere of Colette, a biopic of the 19th century French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, played by Keira Knightley. Possessing prodigious talent for writing, Colette is encouraged to write by her husband, a literary entrepreneur and advocate of free love, who takes authorial credit for her series of novels that become the talk of Paris. Caught on the crest of a rising feminist movement, Colette resolves to reclaim her identity and forge her own path in turn-of-the-century France.
The Children Act
Based on the novel by lauded writer Ian McEwan, The Children Act depicts the turmoil of a High Court Judge, Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) grappling with a titular piece of legislation and the question of whether an underage boy’s parents can deny him a life-saving blood transfusion on the basis of their faith. Meanwhile, her personal life hangs by a thread as her husband (Stanley Tucci) openly contemplates an affair. Throwing herself even deeper into her work, Fiona’s life is soon consumed by the deeply murky moral dilemma and the difficult role she has in resolving it.
The Italian Job
A British film classic (and favourite of festival sponsor, Mini), The Italian Job brings us the best of a young Michael Caine in a high-stakes caper that sees a small fleet of Minis zipping all over Turin with boots full of bullion in an effort to outwit the Mafia and the Italian Police. With fellow British legends Noël Coward and Benny Hill in the cast, and one of the most ultimate cliff-hangers ever conceived, this classic comedy has subsisted as one of Britain’s greatest films for a bloody good reason.
The Happy Prince
Oscar Wilde died in a cheap Parisian hotel room, destitute and ragged having been cast out by the London society that worshipped his works into immortality. Written, directed, and performed by Rupert Everett, The Happy Prince will reach into your chest cavity and pummel all four valves with this tragic story of the final days of one of Britain’s greatest writers.
Vita and Virginia
One of the most famous love affairs in literary history, the relationship between writer Virginia Woolf and socialite Vita Sackville-West was of a kind rarely seen before or since. Kindred souls, their dynamic, virulent pairing inspired Woolf to pen Orlando, one of her greatest works, as an extended love letter to Sackville-West. Based on personal correspondence, and brought to life by Gemma Arterton as Vita and Elizabeth Debicki as Virginia, Vita and Virginia presents a sensuous telling of one of literature’s most fascinating dalliances.
Making his directorial debut, Idris Elba’s Yardie tells the story of a young Jamaican man called Denis, growing up in Kingston in the 1970s. Part gangster film, part coming of age, the film tracks Denis as he is sent to London by a local gang boss on a mission to test his loyalty. When the mission falls to pieces, Denis goes rogue to track down his brother’s murderer. Based on the novel by Victor Headley, Yardie meticulously recreates the cultural flux of 1970s/80s London.
Stan & Ollie
Finishing off the festival with some heart-warming feel-goods is the closing night feature, Stan & Ollie. Tracking the career and working relationship of Laurel & Hardy, this comedy shines a light on the original comedy greats. Written by Jeff Pope, who collaborated with Steve Coogan on the Philomena screenplay, and starring Coogan and John C Reilly in the title roles, Stan & Ollie depicts the rise and relationship of Hollywood’s greatest double-act.
Image credit: Yardie