The BBC First British Film Festival launched three years ago. With more than 41,000 admissions this year the program 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, and a classic British dish to match.
A United Kingdom and High Tea at Chapels on Whatley
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.
Chapels on Whatley reflects a unique blend of cultures through their extensive and diverse tea selection. Feel presidential while sipping a variety of British and Chinese teas with Eurasian desserts such as house made macarons and mini pandan cakes.
A Monster Calls and Gin Cocktails at Frisk Small Bar
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.
The team at Frisk Small Bar understands friendships. More specifically, the friendship between gin and tonic. It has 180 gins in house to mix with. If you want to get really serious, ask for a Last Word – a harmony of gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lemon.
I, Daniel Blake and Fish and Chips at The Groper and His Wife
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.
What’s more quintessentially British working class than piping-hot fish and chips wrapped in newspaper? Douse in vinegar and share with family or friends before the film.
Trespass Against Us and Marinated Fremantle Sardines at No Mafia
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.
Either swim with the fishes, or eat them. Plump marinated Fremantle sardines (or pilchards, as they call them in the UK) are the perfect uncompromising patriotic accompaniment to this dose of crime and punishment.
Their Finest and a Bacon Butty at Mary Street Bakery Highgate
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.
Boost your own morale with a typical English bacon sandwich. This old-timey dish started life at MSB as a staff meal when an English chef introduced his colleagues to a proper British butty. Now “The Old English” is a house favourite.
Tommy’s Honour and Cumberland Sausage and Mash at The Flying Scotsman
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.
Taste the tradition of a pork sausage that originated in the ancient country of Cumberland, today situated on the English/Scottish boarder.
The Man Who Fell to Earth and a Pie at Baker St
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.
Celebrate one of England’s most diverse and recognisable musical exports with one of its most diverse and recognisable culinary exports: the pie. Baker St’s more-ish beef pie with slow-cooked, grass-fed Leeuwin beef and topped with butter puff, is the perfect place to start.
A Room with a View and Goat Curry at Sauma
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.
England began colonialising India from the mid-1700s, but it wasn’t until the early 1900s that curry found a foothold in the motherland. Celebrate the era with a traditional mountain-style goat curry cooked on the bone.
The BBC First British Film Festival runs from October 27 to November 16 at Cinema Paradiso, Luna on SX and Windsor Cinema.
For session times and more information visit britishfilmfestival.com.au