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Olivia Colman, Ian McKellen, Alfred Hitchcock: They're All on the 2023 British Film Festival Lineup

Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins all also have movies in the touring cinema celebration's program.
By Sarah Ward
October 05, 2023
By Sarah Ward
October 05, 2023

Thinking about UK cinema's biggest names brings a wealth of famous talents to mind. Odds are that they're on the 2023 British Film Festival program in one way or another. When the Australia-wide cinema celebration returns for its latest tour, it'll do so with Olivia Colman's latest movie, Ian McKellen's as well, what might be Michael Caine's final role and an Alfred Hitchcock documentary. Ken Loach, Liam Neeson, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Richard E Grant, Timothy Spall, Helena Bonham Carter, Gemma Arterton, Maggie Smith: they're all covered, too.

In total, 28 films are on the British Film Festival's 2023 lineup, including both brand-new flicks and retrospective screenings. Audiences can see the results throughout November, with the festival kicking off on Wednesday, November 1 in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth — and on Thursday, November 2 in Canberra, Brisbane and Byron Bay. BFF will keep is projectors whirring for four weeks, wrapping up on Wednesday, November 29.

Opening night's One Life will begin the 2023 fest, with the Hopkins (The Son)-starring biopic coming to Australia after premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival. It tells the tale of Sir Nicholas Winton, whose World War II story includes assisting in the rescue of hundreds of Jewish children, earning him the label of the 'British Schindler'. Johnny Flynn (Operation Mincemeat) plays the humanitarian in his younger years, with Bonham Carter (Nolly) also co-starring.

Still on BFF's big festival slots, the Colman- (Heartstopper) and Jessie Buckley (Women Talking)-led Wicked Little Letters will close out the 2023 event. The two actors reunite after both featuring in The Lost Daughter, although this time they aren't playing the same character. Instead, they're in a mystery-comedy that's based on a real-life scandal dating back 100 years

And, playing as BFF's centrepiece is The Critic, which is where McKellan (Cats) and Arterton (Funny Woman) come in, and Mark Strong (Tár), Lesley Manville (The Crown) and Nikesh Patel (Starstruck) as well. As the name makes plain, it does involve a critic — a theatre specialist, in a whodunnit that's based on the novel Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn.

Also a huge inclusion: My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock, the new documentary from The Story of Film's Mark Cousins. This time, the filmmaker turns his meticulous attention to a director like no other, and to plenty of suspense, including featuring footage from the bulk of Hitchcock's classic films.

Among the other highlights, war veteran tale The Great Escaper could be Caine's (Best Sellers) last performance; The Old Oak marks the latest from iconic filmmaker Loach (I, Daniel Blake, Sorry We Missed You); The Lesson features Grant (Persuasion), Julie Delpy (On the Verge) and Daryl McCormack (Bad Sisters) in a literary thriller; and musical Greatest Days features Take That's songs.

Or, there's Sweet Sue from Leo Leigh, son of Peterloo and Mr Turner director Mike Leigh; the Irish village-set In the Land of Saints and Sinners, which features Neeson (Retribution), Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin) and Jack Gleeson (Game of Thrones, and also Sex Education); Samuel Beckett biopic Dance First, with Gabriel Byrne (War of the Worlds) as the playwright; Golda, starring Mirren (Barbie) as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir; Mad About the Boy, a doco about Noël Coward; and Pretty Red Dress, which is set to the songs of Tina Turner.

Plus, fans of movies about music can add Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis), which hails from Control's Anton Corbijn and hones in on the titular photo-design company and its contribution to record cover art, to their BFF schedule.

And, among the retrospective titles, the Mirren-starring Caligula, rock opera Tommy and drama Howard's End are all playing in 4K restorations — with Smith's (The Miracle Club) Oscar-winning performance in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, plus The Remains of the Day, Women in Love and Morgan — A Suitable Case for Treatment also on the classics list.


Wednesday, November 1–Wednesday, November 29 — Palace Norton St, Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinema and Palace Central, Sydney
Wednesday, November 1–Wednesday, November 29 — The Astor Theatre, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, The Kino and Pentridge Cinema, Melbourne
Wednesday, November 1–Wednesday, November 29 — Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinemas, Adelaide
Wednesday, November 1–Wednesday, November 29 — Palace Raine Square, Luna on SX, Leederville and Windsor, Perth
Thursday, November 2–Wednesday, November 29 — Palace Electric Cinemas, Canberra
Thursday, November 2–Wednesday, November 29 — Palace Barracks and Palace James Street, Brisbane
Thursday, November 2–Wednesday, November 29 — Palace Byron Bay, Byron Bay

The 2023 British Film Festival tours Australia between in November. For more information and to buy tickets, visit the festival website.

Published on October 05, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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