It's only taken a few short years for the British Film Festival to become a highlight of Australia's busy festival calendar, and their first titles for their fourth year demonstrate why. Fancy seeing this year's Cannes Palme d'Or winner? Or a host of high-profile titles direct from their premieres at the Venice and Toronto film festivals? Or a restored version of the David Bowie-starring sci-fi classic The Man Who Fell to Earth? Well, they're all on the bill when the festival returns to Sydney's Palace Verona and Palace Norton Street from October 25 to November 16.
Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake — which took top honours in Cannes back in May — takes a look at the British welfare system through the filmmaker's usual social realist lens, and ranks among the most highly anticipated of the bunch. It's joined by the high-profile likes of opening night's A United Kingdom and closing night's A Monster Calls. The former tells the true tale of a Botswana prince (Selma's David Oyelowo) who caused a scandal when he married a white Englishwoman (Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike), and is also slated to open the London Film Festival. Directed by The Impossible's Juan Antonio Bayona, A Monster Calls adapts a fantasy novel about a young boy coping with his mother's terminal illness, and features Liam Neeson as the voice of the titular creature.
Audiences will also get the chance to see crime-drama Trespass Against Us, which not only stars Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson, but marks the film debut of the Chemical Brothers' long-term visual collaborator Adam Smith. For cinephiles looking for something completely different, rom-com fans can get their fix watching Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin in Their Finest, from An Education helmer Lone Scherfig.
And because all good film fests don't just look forward to future hits but also peer back to the greats of years gone by, this year's British Film Festival has curated a ten-movie tribute to some of the country's enduring cinematic heroes. As well as Bowie proving his out-of-this-world acting abilities, catch Gary Oldman getting his punk on in Sid and Nancy and feast on the epic action adventure that is Highlander.