Purchase your Mostly British Film Festival Series Passes and get priority seating for all films. Discounts go to members of theSFFILM, the Fromm Institute, the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation and people 65 and over.
Ralph Fiennes’ ambitious directing effort centers on Russian ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev from his humble beginnings in Siberia to his life-changing visit to France as part of the Kirov Ballet, culminating in his dramatic defection to the West in 1961. Scripted by Britain’s legendary screenwriter David Hare (“The Hours,” “The Reader”), this dance-heavy biopic features acclaimed Ukrainian dancer Oleg Ivenko as Nureyev, showing a fierce physicality in his first film role. Fiennes plays an understated role as Pushkin, St. Petersburg’s most respected dance instructor, who sees something in Nureyev’s passion, prizing it above pure technical skill. Fiennes plays the role in Russian, which he learned just enough of to sound convincing. Adele Exarchopoulous (“Blue is the Warmest Color”) acts against type as the reserved Chilean heiress who opens Nureyev’s eyes to the West’s liberated attitudes to art and sexuality. The film, which Variety calls “lovely and elegant” ends with a gripping scene at Paris’ Le Bourget Airport which– even though we know the outcome– leaves us breathless. UK 2018 (117 minutes)
5:00 PM Reception Laureate Bar and Lounge
444 Presidio Avenue
Sponsored by British Heritage Travel Magazine
Writer/director Ben Hackworth brings us a retired opera singer, Celeste, a star fifteen years ago who is now attempting a come-back. At forty something she is living in a crumbling paradise somewhere in the lush rainforest of north-eastern Australia. Set against this wondrous tropical backdrop, Radha Mitchell (appearing in person at Mostly British) plays the nervy diva with resplendent theatricality, mourning the death of her husband ten years earlier and finding comfort from drink and her friend/producer Grace, she prepares for the show. Enter her estranged stepson Jack (Thomas Cocquerel), no longer a teenager, but now described so eloquently by the Hollywood Reporter as “a virile slab of wayward young manhood.” Indeed, he is and tension mounts. Enigmatic and at times mysterious, this film is always engaging, offering stunning location shots to bask in.
Australia 2018 (105 minutes)
GUEST OF HONOR: RADHA MITCHELL
Australian actress Radha Mitchell will join us at the festival with two of her new films, which she will introduce and participate in a Q & A following the screenings. She stars in “Flammable Children,” as a parent trying to raise children in the wild 1970s in Sydney. In “Celeste” she gives a touching and vulnerable performance as a renowned opera diva who gives up her career for the man she loves and moves to a rainforest. Her films “Looking for Grace” and “The Waiting City” played in the Australian Spotlight section of the Mostly British festival. The critical success of “High Art,” one of her early Hollywood movies, gained her a wider audience. She has also worked in Hollywood on “Neverland” and “Melinda and Melinda.” Woody Allen hired her as the lead character Melinda without an audition on the strength of seeing one of her movies.
GUEST OF HONOR: BEN HACKWORTH
The director of “Celeste” had an auspicious beginning as a filmmaker. His short film, “Martin Four,” made while he was in film school, was selected to show at the Cannes Film Festival. His debut feature “Corroboree” was chosen for the Toronto International by Noah Cowan, now executive director of SFFILM. Hackworth is one of three Australian directors to be awarded a prestigious Cannes Film Festival Residence to develop a screenplay. “Celeste” opened the Brisbane International Film Festival in the city where Hackworth makes his home.
Introduction to “Celeste” by Mitchell and Hackworth. Both will be interviewed following the screening by SFFILM Executive Director Noah Cowan.
Hard to imagine that 25 years has passed since Charles met Carrie. As the very British Charles, Hugh Grant was catapulted to stardom. He won hearts on both sides of the Atlantic as the perennial best man mumbling and stuttering his way to heart-throb status seemingly perpetually dressed in a morning coat. Andie MacDowell is the sparkling, wealthy American who shows up as a guest at the first wedding where her flirtation with Charles startles him with its intensity. Their romance is consummated before the night is over. Yet, cowed by Carrie’s bracing eagerness, Charles is too reticent to acknowledge his feelings for her. An air of romantic uncertainty hangs over the couple through three more weddings and a funeral as the audience is drawn into caring about their fate. With a great cast of British actors like Kirstin Scott Thomas and Simon Callow and directed with light hearted yet nevertheless seductive enchantment by Mike Newell, “Four Weddings and a Funeral” set a high standard for romcoms that has only rarely been matched. UK 1994 (117 minutes)
5:30 p.m. Champagne and cookies reception
Laureate Bar and Lounge
444 Presidio Avenue
6 p.m Screening Celebrating the Silver Anniversary of Four Weddings and a Funeral
This wonderfully daft comedy, based on a documentary about a real-life synchronized male swim team in Sweden, could be thought of as “The Full Monty” in Speedos. A motley crew of middle-aged men form a close friendship unusual for the male species when they decide to compete in a world championship–despite the fact that they will never be mistaken for bodybuilders. The Guardian describes their physiques as “unselfconscious moobs and guts, sagging thighs and fading tattoos.” Their unfashionable swimming caps and goggles make them look more like nerds than athletes. The team is led by the always humorous Rob Brydon as an accountant incapacitated by a midlife crisis and Rupert Graves as a smooth-talking real estate broker looking for some action after a divorce. Although he hadn’t imagined it would happen underwater, joining the team turns out for him as well as his teammates to be more gratifying than any of them could have imagined. UK 2018 (96 minutes).
Sponsored by Stratos Group LLC- Stuart Keirle
Esteemed British director Mike Leigh brings to life one of the bloodiest and darkest episodes in British social history, the infamous Peterloo Massacre of August 16, 1819. Representatives of the Tory government ordered a regiment of regular cavalry, abetted by local mounted militia and hundreds of infantry and special constables, to charge, sabers drawn, into a working-class crowd of 60,000 who had gathered for an entirely peaceful rally—calling for parliamentary reform—in St Peter’s Field, Manchester, England. Bands played “Rule Britannia” and “God Save the King.” Banners spoke of “Liberty and Fraternity”. But the authorities feared an outbreak of violence that might foment bloody revolution. The storming of the Bastille that sparked the French Revolution and the ensuing “Terror” and the American Revolutionary War were all within living memory. Eighteen people killed; more than 650 severely injured. The brutal “Peterloo Massacre”—named by a local newspaper, to echo Britain’s defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo — triggered a national outcry that proved to be a turning point in the slow, but inexorable evolution of British democracy. This is Mike Leigh’s largest cinematic canvas to date, and he uses a notable ensemble cast headed by Maxine Peake (in person at the festival) and Rory Kinnear. Immersive, impassioned, meticulously crafted, the film brims with contemporary relevance. Why is Peterloo important? Because people died there simply for asking for the right to vote. UK 2018 (154 minutes)
Introduced by Maxine Peake and Board Member Tony Broadbent. Miss Peake will be interviewed following the screening by Mostly British Senior Programmer Maxine Einhorn.
GUEST OF HONOR: MAXINE PEAKE
English actress Maxine Peake will join us at the festival with two of her new films, which she will introduce and participate in a Q & A following the screenings. She stars in “Peterloo,” as the mother of a young British conscript in this story of the infamous 1819 massacre at Peterloo. In “Funny Cow” she plays a female comic attempting in the 1970s to find a place in England’s comedy circuit. The Guardian wrote of her performance “Peake rises magnificently to the challenge of the role, her face flickering between a practical smile and a silent scream.” She is a regular on the Hulu show “The Bisexual” and is known in the UK for lead roles in the TV series “Dinnerladies” and “Shameless.” She has also appeared in “Black Mirror” and the movie “The Theory of Everything.” Her stage work includes the title characters in “Hamlet” and “Miss Julie” and as Blanche in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” a performance The Guardian described as “exquisite” and “breathtaking.” Introduced by star Maxine Peake and Board Member Tony Broadbent. Miss Peake will be interviewed following the screening by Mostly British Senior Programmer Maxine Einhorn.
Purchase your Mostly British Film Festival Series Passes and get priority seating for all films. Individual movie tickets go on sale on January 15. Discounts go to members of the San Francisco Film Society, the Fromm Institute, the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation and people 65 and over.
The versatile David Tennant transitions from Dr. Who and “Broadchurch’s” Alec Hardy, DI, to give a dazzling performance as Dr. RD Laing, the radical and controversial psychiatrist who became a 1960s counterculture hero for advocating for the mentally ill. One of Scotland’s greatest minds, Laing adopted humane holistic treatment for mental illness using as tools group therapy and communal healing. Drugs were prohibited except for the experimental use of LSD. Based on a book of the same title of conversations with Laing, the film is largely set at a refuge Laing set up at Kingsley Hall in east London. Gabriel Byrne and Michael Gambon are illuminating as patients who adore their hard-drinking, emotional shrink. Elisabeth Moss brings out Laing’s soft side as his partner. This absorbing biopic, directed by Robert Mullan, captures his impact on mental h ealth around the world. UK 2017 (106 minutes)
“One of David Tennant’s best performances-he is in a pugnacious, mercurial and beady-eyed form.” The Guardian
The film will be introduced by Dr. Michael Guy Thompson, who joined Laing in 1973 and became an integral part of his practice, living in one of the post-Kingsley Hall therapeutic communities. He now practices psychoanalysis in San Francisco.
This is one of those unusual remakes that actually lives up to the original– in this case the perennial British comedy classic from 1949 of the same title. What makes the new version really delicious is that it is inspired by a true story. Set on the sweeping prehistoric shores (mixed Gaelic and Norse) in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides islands during World War II, the film shows what happens when the normally complacent inhabitants are told that the island’s supply of whisky – mother’s milk to locals– has dried up. Salvation seems possible when they learn of a shipwrecked cargo vessel destined for New York and loaded with 50,000 crates of Scottish whisky. But their planned raid meets an obstacle: a bellowing home guard captain played with comic flair by the inimitable Eddie Izzard. Director Gillies MacKinnon (“Regeneration”) concocts a steaming brew out of the clash between the whisky deprived and the somewhat depraved captain. UK 2016 (98 minutes)
Mostly British will host a free whisky tasting of top of the line scotch between screenings of the whisky-themed British films “The Hippopotamus” and “Whisky Galore!”
Compliments of Gordon Biersch and WildCide
What do you do for an encore when your debut feature wins the Camera D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival? For Warwick Thornton – the wunderkind director of the prize-winning “Samson and Delilah”- the answer is to again delve into the rich storytelling tradition of Australia’s Aboriginal people. This time Thornton reaches back to 1929 colonial Australia to create a Western set in the stark vistas of the country’s eerily underpopulated Outback. Based on a true story, this gritty film centers on an Aboriginal stockman working the land of a benevolent preacher (Sam Neill). When the laborer kills a drunken war veteran in self- defense and then goes on the lam, he is pursued by a posse led by a determined military sergeant (Bryan Brown). Stunning cinematography and sense of place pull you in as the director turns his lens on Australia’s mistreatment of its indigenous population. Winner Special Jury Prize at Venice Festival. Australia 2017 (113 minutes)