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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

British Film Festival 2021

Spend a month watching the latest and greatest British flicks — including Edgar Wright's new thriller, a David Bowie biopic, and films starring Olivia Colman, Jamie Dornan, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy.
By Sarah Ward
October 14, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
October 14, 2021
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Melbourne movie lovers, prepare to be spoiled for choice when it comes to getting your next big-screen fix. With the city expected to come out of lockdown in October, cinemas are being inundated with high-profile features — and, with film festivals showing them.

One such event getting the projectors whirring is the annual British Film Festival, which'll bring its 31-movie lineup of Brit flicks to Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, The Kino, Pentridge Cinema and The Astor between Friday, November 5–Wednesday, December 1. Gracing the fest's titles is a who's who of UK acting talent, so if you're a fan of The Crown's Olivia Colman, Claire Foy and Josh O'Connor — or of everyone from Jamie Dornan, Colin Firth, Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch to Helen Mirren, Michael Caine, Joanna Lumley and Peter Capaldi — you'll be spying plenty of familiar faces.

The festival will open with true tale The Duke, starring Mirren and Jim Broadbent, with the latter playing a 60-year-old taxi driver who stole a portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. From there, highlights include the Kenneth Branagh-directed Belfast, about growing up in 1960s Northern Ireland; Last Night in Soho, Edgar Wright's new thriller featuring Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie; romantic period drama Mothering Sunday, with Colman, Firth and O'Connor; and Best Sellers, a literary comedy with Michael Caine and Aubrey Plaza.

Or, there's also Stardust, a biopic about the one and only David Bowie — and The Electrical Life of Louis Wan, about the eponymous artist, with Cumberbatch and Foy leading the cast.

Opera singing in the Scottish highlands drives the Lumley-starring Falling for Figaro, which also features Australian Patti Cake$ actor Danielle Macdonald; Benediction marks the return of filmmaker Terence Davies (Sunset Song), this time focusing on English poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon; and Firth pops up again in World War II-set drama Operation Mincemeat with Succession's Matthew Macfadyen.

Plus, To Olivia dramatises Roald Dahl's marriage to Oscar-winning actress Patricia Neal, Stephen Fry explores bubbly booze in documentary Sparkling: The Story of Champagne, and novelist Jackie Collins also gets the doco treatment.

And, as part of the British Film Festival's retrospective lineup, Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon will grace the big screen — the former in a 4K restoration to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

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