The vivid passion spilling out of Wuthering Heights led Victorian readers to assume it to be written by a man. The true author wasn’t revealed until Emily Bronte published a later edition under her own name. She has left future fans of her extraordinary only novel to ponder how the house-bound spinster daughter of an Anglican priest became acquainted with such sexual frenzy. Taking poetic license in how little is known of this particular Bronte, the biopic supplies Emily with an obliging lover who unearths her naked lust. Frances O’Connor — an Australian actress known for Mansfield Park– makes a thrillingly assured debut as director and writer. The film flashes back to the early years when the sisters delight in stories they tell each other. But the focus remains mainly on Emily, revealed in Emma Mackey’s riveting performance to be the oddest of her siblings. Through O’ Connor’s camera the big landscape of the Yorkshire Moors looks appropriately forbidding while also inviting you in. Entire sequences are played almost silently, contributing to a lasting eerie feeling not unlike a Bronte novel.
Chronicle movie critic Mick LaSalle has named Emily on his list of Movies to Watch Out For in 2023.
UK 2023 (130 minutes)
5:30 PM Reception – Presidio Kebab – 3277 Sacramento Street
Frances O’Connor will introduce her film in a Zoom interview.
7:30 PM Emily
Sponsor: British Consulate General San Francisco
The Thorn Birds remains one of the most-highly rated miniseries in TV history. Even more impressive the show has lost none of its grip 40 years after it first captivated audiences with its saga of forbidden love between a Roman Catholic priest and an impressionable young scion of a sheep farm family in the 1920s Australian Outback. You’ll see its power to captivate watching extensive excerpts from the series during our tribute to The Thorn Birds 40th anniversary. Stars Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown will come together on Zoom to talk about making the series.
Australia 1983 (90 minutes)
Sponsor: Australian Consulate General San Francisco
Just when you think there couldn’t be anything more to say about the Beatles, along comes this fascinating documentary about the history of the Fab Four’s famous studio, Abbey Road, showing how it began recording classical music and morphed into a large studio where major popular albums were cut. Director Mary McCartney, Paul’s offspring, has one of the best Rolodexes in the business. The bold-face names she cor- rals to tell revealing anecdotes include Ringo Starr, Elton John, George Lucas, Burt Bacharach and, of course, her Dad.
UK 2022 (86 minutes)
Added Short; Ruthless In 1970s Northern Ireland, a young boy, bereft of his mother, defies his father to get the Glam Rock album he so desperately wants. The writer is Kate Perry. Matthew McGuigan directs.
Ireland 2020 (13 minutes)
Winning top documentary this year, both the Golden Eye Award at Cannes and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, this film tells the remarkable story of two brothers intent on rescuing the meat-eating black kites that sail across the polluted skies of New Delhi. So much dirt and division scar New Dehli, but co-exist with the breath-taking beauty of nature captured by Shaunak Sen’s film. Here the brothers treat the birds that literally fall from the sky, injured and choked by smog – nearly 26,000 injured kites to date….”When I let a bird go after healing it and it flies away, I feel pure joy,” says Nadeem, the elder brother. Beautiful, touching film. Academy Award Nomination for Best Documentary.
UK/India 2022 (97 minutes)
The news 10 years ago that the remains of King Richard III of Shakespeare fame were uncovered under a Leicester parking lot inspired this whimsical film about the real-life amateur historian sleuth Philippa Langley whose dream is realized by the monarch’s exhumation. Created by director Stephen Frears and writer-actor Steve Coogan, the team behind Philomena, it shares an inspirational tone with their earlier film that will have you rooting for Philippa as she butts heads with the archaeological establishment. Sally Hawkins is perfection in the role. Is there any actress of her generation so willing or adept at showing vulnerability?
UK 2023 (108 minutes)
7:30 PM The Lost King
9:30 PM Party: Vogue Theatre
5 p.m. Reception Laureate Bar and Lounge 444 Presidio Avenue
7:30 p.m. Screening, The Duke.
Introduction by Helen Mirren via Zoom
Critics are comparing the whimsy displayed in The Duke to the spirit and buoyancy of Frank Capra comedies. This new British entry falls into the category of life as stranger than fiction. It recounts an incredible true event from 1961 when a taxi driver climbs through a bathroom window at London’s National Gallery in the early hours and swipes Goya’s prized portrait of the Duke of Wellington. A kind of Robin Hood, he promises to return the painting if the government invests more in caring for the elderly. The film boasts crisp performances by Academy Award winners Jim Broadbent as the thief with charitable intentions and Helen Mirren as his shrewish wife. Roger Michell directs with the panache he brought to Notting Hill. UK 2020 (96 minutes)
Sponsor: British Consulate General San Francisco
Mary Anning was a famous 19th century paleontologist. Director James Lee reimagines her life as the stuff of romantic fiction with Mary (wondrous Kate Winslet) living a harsh existence, scouring the seashore (at the Undercliff in Lyme Regis, Dorset)for fossils and selling seashells to tourists for a living. She is locked away. Nothing to say. This changes when an overbearing fellow paleontologist visits. Unexpectedly called away, he hires Mary to care for his melancholic wife (winsome Saoirse Ronan). Slowly the film heats up, becoming super steamy as two of cinema’s finest fall in love—or is it lust? Mary Anning must be blushing in her grave! UK/Australia/US 2020 (117 minutes)
Co-Presented by Frameline
Whether you’re an opera lover, a fan of romantic comedies or just in the mood for a feel-good movie, you will fall for the gentle charm of Falling for Figaro. It’s the irresistible story of a young American financial whiz, who passes up a promotion with a London firm to pursue her impossible dream of studying opera in the Scottish Highlands, captured in all their glory. Her teacher is an eccentric diva played with hilarious abandon by Ab Fab’s Joanna Lumley. Competing in a national contest, the American novice finds herself up against a dashing fellow student. Romantic juices stir when the two are instructed to rehearse together. UK 2020 (104 minutes)
Joanna Lumley will introduce the film on Zoom
Sponsor: Bruce Lymburn
This intricate drama is in the admirable tradition of films that take off in unanticipated directions. After Love appears to track the peaceful life of a middle-aged Muslim couple in Dover, heavily invested in their faith. When the husband unexpectedly dies the film becomes an examination of his widow Mary’s strength after she discovers he’s shared a secret life with an independent Frenchwoman as different from Mary as can be. Be prepared for another twist when Mary infiltrates the life of her husband’s mistress. As the scorned wife, Joanna Scanlan elevates the movie with her sympathetic and riveting performance. Winner six British Independent Film Awards, including Best Film. Scanlan also is nominated for a BAFTA (the British Oscars) for best actress and her director Aleem Khan is up for best director. UK 2020 (89 minutes)
Co-Presented by SFFILM
We are thrilled to bring you this historical chronicle of the love affair between the Fab Four and this exotic country that began over 50 years ago. The Beatles and India is the first serious exploration of how India shaped the development of the band and the Beatles own pioneering role bridging two vastly different cultures. Rare archival footage, recordings and photographs and eye-witness accounts along with location shoots across India, bring alive the fascinating journey of George, John, Paul and Ringo from their celebrity lives to a remote Himalayan ashram in search of spiritual bliss that inspired a burst of creative songwriting. This will be the only chance to watch it on a big screen in the U.S. Directed by Ajoy Bose and Peter Compton. UK 2021 (96 minutes)
Mostly British thanks our new partner BritBox for supplying this joyful documentary to close our festival.
7:30 p.m. The Beatles and India
9:30 p.m. Party, Vogue Lobby