|The 15th Mostly British Film Festival runs February 9-16 with something for every moviegoer’s taste.The annual tribute to English language foreign films opens with the Northern California premiere of EMILY, a romanticized and sensual perspective on the life of Wuthering Heights author Emily Bronte. Opening night features actress-turned-director Frances O’Connor on Zoom discussing her rapturously-reviewed debut film. In this Sunday’s Pink, Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle named EMILY first in his list of “Movies to Look Out for in 2023.”
The festival closes with ALL THAT BREATHES. This poignant story of brothers who run a bird hospital in New Delhi is shortlisted for the 2023 Oscar for best documentary feature. It is followed by the whimsical crowd pleaser THE LOST KING, another Northern California premiere, starring Sally Hawkins as a real-life amateur historian-sleuth who discovers the remains of Richard III buried under a parking lot in Leicester.
In total, 25 new and classic movies are scheduled from the UK, Ireland, Australia, India, New Zealand and South Africa.British offerings include the Northern California premiere of BLUE JEAN about a dilemma faced by a closeted lesbian teacher in the homophobic era of Margaret Thatcher and AFTERSUN, a father-daughter drama that captured Best First Film from the New York Film Critics, also sweeping the British Independent Film awards with seven wins, Best Picture among them.
Brit Box, a Mostly British Film Festival partner, this year presents REEL BRITANNIA, a documentary featuring celebrated British filmmakers as they ponder the question: What constitutes British cinema? Cinephiles are sure to relish this rich, informative mini-series.
On February 11, the festival pays tribute to THE THORN BIRDS on its 40th anniversary by showing extensive excerpts from the sexy scenes. The Australian TV saga about a forbidden love between a Roman Catholic priest and an heiress to a sheep farm in the 1920s outback remains the second-highest rated miniseries in television history exceeded only by ROOTS. Series stars Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown gathered with Mostly British co-director Ruthe Stein on Zoom to talk about the making of this show, programming as riveting today as it was in 1983.Festival audiences will be treated to behind-the-scenes exchanges including a budding romance between Ward and Brown, who met on the set and today are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. Ward reveals how co-star Jean Simmons urged her to flirt with Brown, telling Ward were she younger, she would pursue the rugged-looking Aussie with the great pecs (the first thing Ward noticed about him). Chamberlain offers us a delicious anecdote about his nude scene with Barbara Stanwyk.
Now that Ward has moved from acting to directing, the festival will show PALM BEACH, in which she turns the camera on her husband. An appealing movie about older people, it features life-long friends at a reunion where secrets unexpectedly spill out.
The always-popular Irish Spotlight on February 12 begins with a documentary centered on Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney followed by RÓISE & FRANK a narrative feature about a grieving widow who comes to believe a dog is her husband reincarnated. Also showing is MY SAILOR, MY LOVE, a touching story of a shift in a relationship between a widowed father and his daughter when he begins a romance.
A series of documentaries every day highlight the strong submissions in this category. Subject matter ranges from bios of swinging ‘60s fashion designer Mary Quant and Pulitzer prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon to an insider’s look at the Beatles’ famous studio Abbey Road directed by Paul McCartney’s daughter Mary.
The New York Times named the Indian documentary A NIGHT OF KNOWING NOTHING one of “The Best Genre Movies of 2022.” Winner of the Golden Eye Award for Best Documentary at Cannes, the film offers an intimate look at the social life at a Mumbai university.Dames Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are honored in an afternoon series Great Dames…When They Were Young, a program of selected early films from the stars’ careers.
The Mostly British Film Festival is presented by the San Francisco Neighborhood Theatre Foundation. A series pass including all 25 films and opening and closing night parties, with early access into the theatre and reserved seating is $300/$250 (discounted price).
Opening night including the reception beforehand is $40/$30. Closing night including after party is $30/$20. All other films are $20/$15. Discounts available to members of SFFILM, the Fromm Institute, the Calvary Presbyterian Church and seniors (65 and over).
Tickets can be purchased at mostlybritish.org and the Vogue Theatre box-office, 3290 Sacramento Street in San Francisco.