With more than 41,000 admissions this year the BBC First British Film Festival is an opportunity to see some of the best cinema in the world. We’ve put together a list of the eight films to see between October 26 and November 16.

A United Kingdom

A United Kingdom tells the true love story of the first Botswanan president and an English woman. It’s set in 1940s England, a time when an interracial relationship was controversial. Directed by Amma Asante (Belle), the film highlights the social injustices of the era. “[It] focuses on romance and the fierce opposition the couple faced [from] British and tribal government,” says Kim Petalas, the festival’s curator. The narrative is one of concealed and forbidden emotions and of a love too unconventional for the couple’s contemporary world.

A Monster Calls

An enchanting take on a coming-of-age tale, A Monster Calls is a fantasy tale. The story centres on a boy who finds refuge in the company of a tree monster in his garden while coming to terms with his mother’s terminal illness. It’s Bridge to Terabithia meets The Lord of the Rings. “The film is a story of friendship and is a beautiful, cinematically stunning fantasy,” says Petalas.

I, Daniel Blake

Ken Loach’s Palm d’Or Winner is quintessentially British and explores the struggle of the working class. The friendship between an injured carpenter and a single mother is the core of the narrative. I, Daniel Blake is an interrogation of Britain’s socio-economic issues and is as stark as it is tender. “It highlights social injustices … grouping modern-day drama and social realism,” says Petalas.

Trespass Against Us

An exploration of the country’s criminal underbelly, Trespass Against Us studies Britain’s industrial world. Unabashed patriotism permeates this crime thriller that at its core is about the fraught relationship between a father and son. Inherently British in its production – The Chemical Brothers even composed the score – this dark and gritty crime drama is a delicate balance between all-out thuggery and mischievous English comedy.

Their Finest

This star-studded romantic comedy is one for the history buffs. Taking place during The Blitz (the German bombing of British cities during World War Two), Their Finest is a film adaptation of the book Their Finest Hour and a Half. In an attempt to boost the morale of 1940s England, Catrina Cole (played by Gemma Arterton) is summoned to the British Industry of Information’s film division to make propaganda movies with a female perspective.

The film subverts the traditional wartime narrative. It offers a heroic and entirely patriotic story about a woman’s touch during a time of brutal masculinity. It’s also particularly beautiful to watch.

Tommy’s Honour

Directed by Jason Connery (son of Sean Connery), this biopic drama revisits the story of Tom and Tommy Morris, a father-and-son duo that invented the game of golf. Set in Scotland in the mid 1800s, Tommy’s Honour is brooding, compelling and visually stunning.

The Man Who Fell to Earth

This science-fiction film starring David Bowie covers mental illness, love and addiction. The Man Who Fell to Earth is part of the festival’s Retrospective: Local Heroes series. The 1976 masterpiece follows an alien who travels to Earth in search of water for his drought-stricken planet. “We felt it important to highlight the cinematic heroes of Britain, it is the ideal opportunity to showcase David Bowie’s finest work as an actor,” says Petalas. Completely restored and effortlessly timeless, this film is Bowie at his most eccentric and hypnotising.

A Room with a View

Another film featured in the Retrospective: Local Heroes series is the 1985 classic, A Room with a View. The funny, sexy and sophisticated film is director James Ivory’s most famous piece of work. A legendary British cast – including Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith and Daniel Day-Lewis – star in this adaptation of E. M. Forster’s 1908 novel. The award-winning film is a collision between a period drama and a romantic comedy and follows Lucy Honeychurch’s blossoming love life.

The BBC First British Film Festival will screen at Palace Cinemas from October 26 to November 16, 2016.

For session times and more information visit britishfilmfestival.com.au

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