Byron Palace Cinema’s program of international film festivals finishes 2014 with the British Film Festival, which opens on Thursday November 6.
Opening night will see the timely Australian premiere of Testament of Youth direct from its recent world premiere at the London Film Festival. This epic coming-of-age tale of love, loss and war is based on Vera Brittain’s memoir of World War I, which 80 years on remains one of the most powerful and famous memoirs of the 20th century.
The festival features 21 films, including 13 Australian premieres and a specially curated retrospective section Six from the 60s, capturing an era that saw a turn of the tide in British filmmaking.
Britain’s cultural revolution in the 1960s gave birth to a more mischievous, spirited cinema, full of expression, vivacity and comedy, reflected in the six films: Billy Liar and Darling, both starring the Oscar-winning Julie Christie; The Italian Job and Zulu, starring Michael Caine in two career-launching roles; and Malcom McDowell, fresh from A Clockwork Orange, starring in the Palme d’Or winning If. Who knew A Hard Day’s Night received two Academy Award nominations. One of the most innovative and refreshing music movies ever made, it captures the birth of British Beatlemania.
The program hosts more award-winning titles with the extraordinary Mr Turner, exploring the last 25 years of one of the most prolific painters of the 19th century, which collected two awards at this year’s Cannes Film Festival including best actor for Timothy Spall. God Help The Girl, a film about three young musicians starring Australian actress Emily Browning (Sucker Punch), won the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize and was written and directed by Belle and Sebastian lead singer Stuart Murdoch.
Ben Whishaw, who exploded onto the big screen with Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, stars in Lilting, a film about connection, grief, communicating across language barriers and the aspects of life that bring us together; Snow in Paradise, premiering at Un Certain Regard at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, tells the dramatic tale of a man whose life decisions lead to fatal repercussions, featuring a cast full of young British talent directed by award-winning editor Andrew Hulme (Control); and ’71, the debut feature from Yann Demange that tells a thrilling tale of a young British soldier who must find his way to safety through a disorientating, deadly and alien landscape after being accidently abandoned by his unit after a riot in the dangerous streets of Northern Ireland.
British comedies light up the screen with titles including A Long Way Down, based on the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby (About A Boy) featuring an all-star cast of Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding), Pierce Brosnan (Mamma Mia!) and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) in an uplifting and entertaining contemplation on what it means to be an outcast and what makes life worth living; The Hooligan Factory, an hilarious parody of British Hooligan films and what it truly means to be a hooligan, with punchy performances and a hysterical script from triple threat Nick Nevern (director, star, writer); The Love Punch, also starring Pierce Brosnan, Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson and Timothy Spall in this classic heist-turned comedy; and What We Did on Our Holiday, about a couple in the midst of a divorce who take their three children on a trip to Scotland for a family union, starring Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and the hilarious Billy Connolly.
Other program highlights include Jimmy’s Hall, an inspiring drama that celebrates the spirit of free thinkers and captures a fascinating episode in Irish history; Miss Julie, an adaptation of August Stindberg’s play about emotional manipulation and forbidden romance, starring Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell; and The Sea, a poetic, haunting and uplifting meditation on the human condition centred on a man who returns to the sleepy seaside resort where he spent summers as a child after the death of his wife and is forced to confront a trauma from his past.
Australia’s relationship with the United Kingdom is explored in the documentary When the Queen Came to Town, directed by Maurice Murphy and narrated by Bert Newton, which features vivid footage shot by both onlookers and officials. Capturing the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Australia in 1954, the film explores what this footage means to the recreation and reflection of the fabric of Australian society in a post-depression, post-war and pre-television Australia.
The Festival will close with pre-film drinks before the award-winning thriller The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch in one of the best performances of his career as coding pioneer Alan Turing, instrumental in cracking Nazi Germany’s Enigma code during the darkest days of World War 2. Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode also star in in this gripping tale of espionage and brilliant minds.
The British Film Festival runs at the Palace Cinema Byron Bay from Thursday November 6 to Sunday November 16. Full program details at www.britishfilmfestival.com.au.