Ali and Ava

Source: Dean Rogers

‘Ali & Ava’

In a year when festivals will hope for the return of audiences, industry and some sense of normalcy, Screen spotlights 10 films from the UK vying for the attention of festival programmers in 2021.  Includes new titles from Terence Davies, Jane Campion, Joanna Hogg and Andrea Arnold. (* denotes film previously appeared in Screen’s 2020 list

Ali & Ava *

Dir. Clio Barnard
Little is known about Barnard’s fourth feature beyond that it is again set in Bradford, northern England and is supported by BBC Film and the BFI. Altitude is releasing in the UK. Barnard’s The Arbor, The Selfish Giant and Dark River premiered at Tribeca, Cannes and Toronto respectively. Contact: Altitude Film Sales 


Dir. Terence Davies
After exploring the life of US poet Emily Dickinson in 2016 biopic A Quiet Passion, Davies turns his attention to British First World War poet Siegfried Sassoon, who was decorated for his bravery on the western front but then became a vocal critic of the UK government’s war policy. Jack Lowden stars in the picture, which was  financed by the BFI and BBC Film, produced by Mike Elliott’s Emu Films and shot in summer 2021. Contact: Bankside Films 

Chasing Chaplin *

Dirs. Peter Middleton, James Spinney
Middleton and Spinney’s Bafta-nominated debut feature documentary Notes On Blindness won wide praise for its innovative exploration of what it means to lose one’s sight. Having secured access to Charlie Chaplin’s personal and creative archive, the pair are promising an equally ground-breaking approach with this second collaboration charting the rags-to-riches story of the Hollywood icon. The production is backed by Film4 and the BFI and Altitude will release in the UK. Contact: Altitude Film Sales 

Cow * 

Dir. Andrea Arnold
Arnold’s intriguing new film promises to take audiences back to nature with a close-up portrait of the daily lives of two cows. Arnold’s last film, American Honey, screened in competition at Cannes in 2016. She followed this up with the second series of Big Little LiesContact: BBC Film

ear for eye 

Dir: debbie tucker green
green’s second feature follows UK and US black characters of different generations navigating their way through society. Lashana Lynch reprises her leading role from green’s stage production of the same name. BBC Film and the BFI backed the project which is produced by Fruit Tree Media’s Fiona Lamptey (Lamptey is now director of UK features at Neflix) and Eon Productions’ Barbara Broccoli. Green’s debut feature Second Coming, starring Idris Elba, h won the Big Screen award at International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2015. Contact: BBC Film 

The Forgiven

Dir. John Michael McDonagh
Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes top the cast in this adaptation of Lawrence Osborne’s 2012 novel about the impact of an unfortunate accident on a wealthy couple that occurs on their way to a party at a luxury villa in Morocco’s Atlas mountains. The production wrapped in late 2020 after halting for six months due to the pandemic. It is produced by Elizabeth Eves and McDonagh’s House of Un-American Activities label and developed with Film4. Focus Features acquired worldwide rights last October. Contact: Universal Pictures International

Mothering Sunday

Dir. Eva Husson
French director Husson embarks on her first English-language project with this 1920s-set period drama, her third feature following 2015’s Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) and 2018 Cannes Palme d’Or contender Girls Of The Sun. Based on Graham Swift’s novella, it unfolds over a single day in England, 1924. The cast includes Odessa Young, Josh O’Connor, Olivia Colman and Colin Firth. Alice Birch has written the adaptation which is produced by Number 9 Films and developed with the BFI and Film4. Sony Pictures Classics has US rights, and Lionsgate is releasing in the UK. Contact: Rocket Science 

The Power *

Dir. Corinna Faith
Following in the wake of Rose Glass’s St Maud, which debuted in Toronto in 2019, and Prano Bailey Bond’s Censor which premieres in this year’s Sundance, hopes are high for this latest genre debut from a UK female filmmaker. Rose Williams stars as a young nurse on her first night shift in a crumbling hospital in a 1970s London hit with rolling black outs. Faith’s screenplay for The Power featured on 2018 Brit List. The film was backed by the BFI and Creative England. Contact: Altitude Film Sales 

The Power Of The Dog

Dir. Jane Campion
Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons star as fraternal Montana ranchers whose relationship turns sour when one of them marries a local widow (Kirsten Dunst). This New Zealand-shot Netflix Original reunites Campion with Top Of The Lake collaborators See-Saw Films, which produces with Max Films, Brightstar and the filmmaker’s own Big Shell. BBC Film backed development. Campion has strong ties with Cannes following her Palme d’Or win (ex aqueo) for The Piano in 1993 and stint as jury president in 2014. But it isunlikely this will sway the festival’s position on not inviting films to Competition that are not guaranteed a theatrical release in France. Contact: Netflix

The Souvenir: Part II *

Dir. Joanna Hogg
Picking up where her Sundance grand jury prize winner The Souvenir left off, this sequel follows the personal and creative trajectory of its budding filmmaker protagonist Julie. Honor Swinton Byrne returns in the role alongside Tilda Swinton, Ariane Labed and Richard Ayoade with new cast additions including Harris Dickinson and Charlie Heaton. The film was developed and production financed by the BFI and BBC FIlm. A24 has US rights. Contact: Protagonist Pictures 

True Things 

Dir. Harry Wootliff
Ruth Wilson and Tom Burke star in this adaptation of Deborah Kay Davies’ novel about a woman living on the fringes of society who becomes intoxicated by a stranger who overwhelms her quiet life. Wootliff, who impressed with debut feature Only You in 2018, also wrote the screenplay. Wilson produces with Jude Law and Ben Jackson’s Riff Raff Films and Tristan Goligher of The Bureau. The BFI and BBC Film have backed the film. Contact: The Bureau Sales