Now in its seventh year, British Film Festival is bringing more than two dozen new releases and classic films to our screens for three weeks.

Opening the festival is Colette, starring Keira Knightley as the groundbreaking French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. Her writing scandalised and captivated turn-of-the-century Paris, even as her husband (played by Dominic West) took the credit for himself. Writer-director Wash Westmoreland (Still Alice) tells the mesmerising story of a young woman’s artistic and personal awakening against the backdrop of a city as vibrant and energetic as she was.

This year’s festival pays tribute to giant of British cinema Michael Caine with not one but two new features. In King of Thieves Caine appears alongside a veritable line-up of British hard men (including Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon and Tom Courtenay) in the true story of a band of tough-guy retirees who committed the Hatton Garden jewellery heist of 2015.

In the documentary My Generation, Caine takes viewers on a trip back to the London of the swinging ’60s , where he first made his name in cinema while bands like the Beatles were taking British youth culture to the world. Produced and presented by Caine, and based on more than 1600 hours of original footage, it’s an insider’s look at a time when the young and working class of Britain stood up and made the culture their own.

As a companion to My Generation, this year’s retrospective program Swinging 60s focuses on that turbulent decade. The line-up includes two of Caine’s unforgettable ’60s classics, Alfie (1966) and The Italian Job (1969), alongside The Knack…And How to Get It (1965), Georgy Girl (1966) and To Sir, With Love (1967).

Looking at the war in the air during World War II is the documentary Spitfire. Featuring extensive interviews and first-hand accounts from surviving pilots, plus narration from Charles Dance, it examines the role Britain’s most famous fighter plane played during the Battle of Britain and beyond.

Other highlights include Mike Leigh’s latest film Peterloo, a look at the peaceful working-class demonstration in 1819 Manchester that was violently supressed by police; The Children Act, starring Emma Thompson as a judge who has to make a decision that could end a young man’s life; and Yardie, a tale of revenge set in ’70s Jamaica and ’80s London that’s the directorial debut of actor Idris Elba.

Exclusive to Palace Cinemas, the festival will take place nationally from late October. Tickets are on sale now.

More information.

The MINI British Film Festival will run from October 23 to November 14 (Sydney), October 24 to November 14 (Adelaide and Brisbane) and October 25 to November 14 (Melbourne and Perth).

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