Top 5 picks at the British Film Festival

Top 5 picks at the British Film Festival

Last Updated: 25 Oct 2021
Steph Hayes

From compelling true stories and literary adaptations to biographies and documentaries, this year's British Film Festival will be screening exceptional talent from November 3 to December 1 across participating venues: Luna Leederville, Luna Luna SX, The Windsor and  Palace Raine Square. We’ve put together a list of the 5 best films at this year’s festival based on recommendations from Festival Director, Kim Petalas.

The Duke

Opening this year’s festival, The Duke is a captivating true-crime tale. In 1961, 60-year-old taxi driver Kempton Bunton stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. It was the first theft in the Gallery’s history. In the film, Kempton tries to ransom the painting, offering to return it on the condition that the government invests more in care for the elderly. What happens next becomes the stuff of legends with the full story only now emerging 50 years later.

Ali and Ava

Ali and Ava is a tumultuous, fiercely affecting working-class love story set in Bradford, West Yorkshire. The film features an exuberant music enthusiast and landlord, Ali, a British Pakistani working-class landlord who forges close bonds with his tenants. Ava is an Irish-born teacher and single mother of five, whose latest grandchild has just been born.

When a chance encounter unites them, Ali and Ava begin a tentative friendship formed around their shared love of music.

Enveloped in music and imbued with humour, Ali and Ava weave together conventions of social realism and romantic drama to present an intelligent and nuanced depiction of 21st century Britain that feels profoundly rooted in lived experience.

Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story

This documentary takes viewers on an immersive journey through the trailblazing life of Jackie Collins; spinning together fact and fiction, this feature documentary reveals the untold story of a ground-breaking author and her mission to build a one-woman literary empire.

The film shares the private struggles of Jackie who became an icon of 1980s feminism whilst hiding her vulnerability behind a carefully crafted and powerful public persona.

Nowhere Special

John is a 35-year-old window cleaner who has devoted his life to bringing up his 4-year-old son, Michael, after the child’s mother left them soon post giving birth. Their life is a simple one, made up of universal daily rituals and innocent love that reveals the strength of their relationship. When John is given only a few months left to live, he attempts to find a new, perfect family for Michael, determined to shield him from the terrible reality of the situation.

A poignant story told with great tenderness and enormous heart, this is a beautiful film that examines the small and intimate moments of a moving father-son relationship.

A Clockwork Orange

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, A Clockwork Orange is a disturbing and thought-provoking sci-fi film adapted from Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel, set in a dystopian future England, the story follows sadistic gang leader Alex who is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment that doesn’t go as planned.

For tickets and more information on the full program at the British Film Festival, head to

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