Mostly British Returns With Beatles And Dickinson

This week sees the start of this year’s Mostly British Film Festival (hereafter “Mostly British”). A week-long festival held from February 16 to 23, 2017 at San Francisco’s Vogue Theatre, its film programming is dedicated to new and classic films from the U.K., Ireland, Australia, India, New Zealand, and South Africa. Here are some suggestions on Mostly British offerings to check out:

Their Finest

Lone Scherfig, director of An Education, opens Mostly British with a comedy set during the London Blitz. To raise the spirits of Blitz-terrorized Londoners, the British film industry has been tasked with finding and publicizing upbeat stories. Gemma Arterton plays a novice scriptwriter trying to bring a woman’s perspective to the big screen. Bill Nighy is the pompous past-his-prime actor who latches onto the young scriptwriter.

Screens February 16, 2017 at 7:30 PM. Nighy will take part in a post-film conversation with ACT’s Carey Perloff.

A Patch Of Fog

In Belfast, a literary celebrity (Conleth Hill, Game of Thrones) suffering from writer’s block gets caught shoplifting. The creepy security guard (Stephen Graham) who catches the one-hit writing wonder blackmails the writer into becoming his BFF. In trying to wriggle out of his dilemma, the novelist finds his reputation and sanity endangered by his blackmailer/stalker’s increasingly dangerous behavior.

Screens February 17 at 9:30 PM. Film introduced by mystery writer Tony Broadbent.

The Beatles On Film

Mostly British commemorates the half century since the Fab Four’s final Candlestick Park concert with a trio of films involving the legendary rock group. First, there’s the Richard Lester day-in-the-life classic A Hard Day’s Night starring The Beatles themselves. Then Backbeat tells the story of The Beatles’ days of struggle in Hamburg, and the relationship between John Lennon (Ian Hart) and Stuart Sutcliffe (Stephen Dorff). Once German photographer Astrid Kircherr (Sheryl Lee) comes into the picture, the band’s fortunes are forever changed. Finally, Nowhere Boy recounts the love triangle that develops among a very young John Lennon (Aaron Johnson), his formidable mother, and his equally formidable aunt (Kristin Scott Thomas).

Screens February 18, 2017 starting at 12:30 PM. All films introduced by mystery writer Tony Broadbent.

Epic Of Everest

This restored silent film documents the legendary 1924 Everest expedition. This third attempt to climb the mountain led to the deaths of climbers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, as well as disputes over whether the climbers ever reached the summit. Despite the primitive technology (hand-cranked camera) and harsh conditions, the film captured many amazing images.

Screens Febraury 19, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Twice Shy

This Irish independent film concerns a young Irish couple who leave the Irish countryside to re-locate to London. But as the trip progresses, problems such as an awareness of the immensity of their move and an unplanned pregnancy threaten to undermine their plans.

Screens February 19, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Adult Life Skills

A confused if kooky teen (Jodie Whittaker, Broadchurch) grieving over her twin brother’s death has taken up residence in her mother’s garden shed. As the first birthday without her brother approaches, she wonders whether she still counts as a twin. Director Rachel Tunnard took the Tribeca Film Festival’s Nora Ephron Award for her debut feature.

Screens February 20, 2017 at 4:45 PM

The Sense Of An Ending

This adaptation of Julian Barnes’ Man Booker Prize-winner directed by Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox) is the Mostly British Centerpiece film. Jim Broadbent stars as a divorcee whose quiet life gets overturned by a letter exposing some long buried secrets. He must consequently face some very unpleasant truths about his first love (Charlotte Rampling). Also in the cast are Michelle Dockery as the divorcee’s daughter and Emily Mortimer as the mother of an old love interest.

Screens February 20, 2017 at 7:00 PM

An Evening With Anne V. Coates

Coates is a legendary film editor whose long career began with work on The Red Shoes. Since then, her work has been evident in such films as Lawrence Of Arabia (an Oscar winner for her), The Horse’s Mouth, In The Line Of Fire, and Out Of Sight. She will be interviewed by noted film historian David Thomson onstage before the screening of another famous film she edited, Murder On The Orient Express.

Screens February 21, 2017 at 7:30 PM

A Quiet Passion

Famed director Terence Davies (Distant Voices, Still Lives, Sunset Song) helms this biopic of famed poet Emily Dickinson. Cynthia Nixon (Sex And The City) breaks viewer pre-conceptions with her portrait of an incredibly intelligent woman whose hopes get slowly ground away by the millstone of social convention. Nixon charts Dickinson’s change from an extroverted commentator on women’s place in the patriarchy to an emotionally withdrawn and introverted woman.

Screens February 22, 2017 at 6:30 PM. Actors from co-presenter Word4Word will read selected Dickinson poems before the screening.

The Vogue Theatre is located at 3290 Sacramento Street, SF. For further information about the films and to order advance tickets, go here.

About the Author

I’m a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film…but don’t tell anyone.

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