The BBC First British Film Festival is thrilled to announce the full 2016 program which consists of 19 Australian premieres, including classic restorations, a focus on pioneering British director Ken Loach and a specially curated Local Heroes retrospective. These form part of a diverse line-up of the latest award winners and star-studded features, amongst a spread of beloved classics.

The Festival will open with Amma Asante’s A UNITED KINGDOM, straight from its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival and opening the 60th BFI London Film Festival, A UNITED KINGDOM is a period drama based on the inspirational true-life romance between Botswanan King Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and his British wife, Ruth William Khama (Rosamund Pike), who caused an international scandal when they married in 1948.

The Festival will close on November 16 with the highly anticipated A MONSTER CALLS, based on the acclaimed book by Patrick Ness and starring Britain’s Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), newcomer Lew MacDougall and Liam Neeson as the voice of the monster. This is a visually spectacular film about a young boy who delves into a world of fantasy, imagination and monsters to deal with the reality of his mother’s terminal illness.

This year, the festival is proud to present a special focus on Ken Loach. Celebrated, and known for his complex explorations into social realities and struggles of the everyday Brit, the focus will feature three films: I, DANIEL BLAKE, the much talked about return to form from the 79-year-old director, who emerged from retirement to win his second Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival; POOR COW, set in a gritty London of 1960s, Ken Loach’s debut British New Wave masterpiece sees Joy (Carol White) living a life filled with bad choices with this unlikely box office hit that was vividly evocative of its time; and VERSUS: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF KEN LOACH, Louise Osmond’s provocative and revealing documentary that focuses on over 50 years of Loach’s work – both on screen and off – that could not have been more timely coming hot off the heels of I, DANIEL BLAKE.

From another acclaimed British director Terence Davies comes the delicate A QUIET PASSION, an expertly crafted portrait of the 19th century poet, Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon – in a career-best performance) who died in 1886 as an unrecognised artists.

Discover new talent with two immersive narrative feature directorial debuts, these include: Heidi Greensmith’s deeply moving and visually arresting WINTER, in which a successful artist’s life is suddenly turned upside down when his beloved wife is killed in a random act of violence; and Adam Smith’s TRESPASS AGAINST US, a thrilling crime-drama with a pulsating original score by the Chemical Brothers and starring Michael Fassbender (The Light Between Oceans, Steve Jobs) and Brendan Gleeson (Gangs of New York, Calvary).

Two feature documentaries that look at engaging characters include: heist thriller THE BANKSY JOB, which shines the spotlight on another equally mysterious character – the larger than-life AK47 – an ex-pornstar and acid rave promoter turned self-anointed ‘art terrorist’ who declares himself the villain to Banksy’s hero and sets out to swipe a well-know piece of Banksy’s public art; and OASIS: SUPERSONIC, a no-holds-barred approach to the turbulent relationship between the two Gallagher brothers and the Manchester rock band’s rise to fame.

The festival is proud to present director Derek Cianfrance’s (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines) latest highly anticipated tale of love and sacrifice THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS. Based on the bestselling Australian novel by M.L Stedman, and starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) and Rachel Weiss (The Constant Gardener, Youth), telling the story of a couple (Fassbender & Vikander) starting their life together on a remote island off the coast of Western Australia, whose lives are changed forever when a mysterious rowboat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a crying baby girl.

Other book to cinema adaptations include: THE SECRET SCRIPTURE, a film chronicling a woman’s struggles amidst the political tensions of 1920s and 1930s Ireland – directed by Academy Award-nominated Irish director Jim Sheridan – and starring Rooney Mara (Carol) Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement, Blow-up), Jack Reynor (What Richard Did) and Australia’s Eric Bana (Munich); English crime thriller THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM, a tale of murder and mayhem, set in the notorious Limehouse district of 19th century London; and THEIR FINEST, a romantic comedy from director Lone Scherfig (An Education), featuring British stars Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), Sam Clafin (Hunger Games series) and Bill Nighy (Love Actually).

The festival will also present screenings of TOMMY’S HONOUR, directed by Jason Connery, the film explores the complex dynamics between a father and son, telling the historic tale of Scottish champions and real-life founds of the modern game of golf Tom Morris and his son, Tommy Morris; THIS BEAUTIFUL FANTASTIC, fusing humour with British eccentricity in a quintessentially British tale that will resonate with anyone who has struggled to make their way in the world; URBAN HYMN, the aftermath of the 2011 London riots serves as a backdrop for director Michael Caton-Jones’ commanding saga of redemption, tragedy and friendship; and WHISKEY GALORE, a film made by Scots for Scots, that is a fresh take on Whiskey Galore! – while remaining faithful to the charm of the original film.

Comedies set to light up the screen include the wickedly dark BURN, BURN, BURN, following the death of their best friend, two young women embark on a road-trip to spread his ashes according to the elaborate video instructions left behind; and THE GOLDEN YEARS, it’s banks, bowls and bingo as a group of retirees become Britain’s Most Wanted in this rambunctious heist comedy starring Bernard Hill (Lord of the Rings) and Virginia McKenna (A Town Like Alice).

This year’s retrospective, LOCAL HEROES, includes 10 films that are a specially curated ode to some of Britain’s cinematic heroes. David Bowie perhaps summarised it best with the refrain “we can be heroes, just for one day.” Titles from the LOCAL HEROES retrospective include: GOLDFINGER (1964), THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN (1969), A ROOM WITH A VIEW (1985), OLIVER! (1968); and, in classic restorations: ROOM AT THE TOP (1959), HIGHLANDER (1986), THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976), SID AND NANCY (1986), and comedy franchise film series giants CARRY ON CAMPING (1969) and CARRY ON UP THE KHYBER (1968).

Exclusively at Palace Cinemas, the festival will take place nationally from late October in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, and Brisbane.

The festival is once again sponsored by BBC First, home to premium British drama and available on Foxtel and Fetch.

Festival tickets now on sale. Visit

QLD Thurs 27 Oct– Wed 16 Nov Palace Barracks
NSW Tues 25 Oct – Wed 16 Nov Palace Verona, Palace Norton Street
VIC Wed 26 Oct – Wed 16 Nov Palace Cinema Como, Palace Balwyn,
Palace Brighton Bay & The Astor
SA Thurs 3 Nov – Wed 23 Nov Palace Nova Eastend
WA Thurs 27 Oct – Wed 16 Nov Cinema Paradiso, Luna on SX and The
ACT Thurs 25 Oct – Wed 16 Nov Palace Electric

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