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Highlights of the 2021 British Film Festival

21 October

The 2021 British Film Festival is quickly approaching, boasting a stellar lineup of thirty-one films celebrating the finest filmmakers and acting talent the region has to offer. The 2021 season includes exquisite performances from favourites including Dame Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren, Olivia Colman, Odessa Young, Colin Firth, Michael Caine and Timothy Spall.

In the lead up to the festival, we wanted to look at a few key highlights that are must-sees this festival season.


Ali & Ava

The latest film from BAFTA-nominated director Clio Barnard is Ali & Ava, a tumultuous and fiercely affecting working-class love story set in Bradford, West Yorkshire. The film uncovers a tender, naturalistic romance between two lost souls who find shared comfort and passion in one another. Adeel Akhtar imbues Ali with aliveness and electric joyfulness, while Claire Rushbrook plays Ava with full-bodied charm and humour. Bernard’s film is an essay in warmth and gentle love amidst conditions of hardship.


Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story

The documentary takes a poignant look behind the glitz and gloss that dominated Jackie Collins’ public image, examining the joys and horrors which occurred when she transitioned from acting to writing. Narrated by a cast of Jackie’s closest friends and family, the film shares the private struggles of a woman who became an icon of 1980s feminism whilst hiding her vulnerability behind a carefully crafted and powerful public persona. In her tender documentary, director Laura Fairrie seeks out the real Jackie Collins behind the untouchable icon, using archival footage, private recordings and interviews about the celebrated author. Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story pays tribute to the fantastic memories of Collins while shedding light on her moments of pain, which together shaped her into a one-in-a-million storyteller.



Last Night in Soho

Mystery, murder, fashion and the grooving 60’s, what more can you ask for? Cult-favourite director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) is back with the psychological thriller Last Night in Soho, chronicling the life of an aspiring fashion designer who time travels back to the glamourous 1960s. Showcasing Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin McKenzie, Matt Smith and the late Diana Rigg in her final on-screen performance, Wright’s thriller is a visual delight and must-see this festival.



From acclaimed director Terence Davies comes the incredibly moving and tender portrait of Siegfried Sassoon, 20th century openly gay British poet and war veteran. The biopic probes Sassoon’s complex relationships to sex, faith, and art – exploring the heroism and trauma which inspired his anti-war poetry. Benediction features outstanding performances from Jack Lowden (Dunkirk) and Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It), delving into the turbulent instances of Sassoon’s past with compassion and nuance.


My Father and Me

My Father and Me is a memoir and tribute, an intimate story from the filmmaker Nick Broomfield that takes a distinctly personal look at his relationship with his humanist-pacifist Father, Maurice Broomfield – a photographer internationally renowned for his work in the post-war British industry. The documentary explores the tensions of a Father-Son relationship amplified by professional variations in their creative approaches and generational understandings of British culture.  Supported by wonderful home-movie footage, and imbued with love and tenderness from Nick Broomfield, the documentary conveys the deep respect and understanding of a relationship between one of the world’s best photographers and his son.





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