This year’s Cannes Film Festival lineup may yet again be thin on British movies but UK public financiers the BFI, Film4 and BBC Film have joined with the British Council to launch the fourth edition of their ‘Great 8’ program, which will showcase emerging Brit filmmakers to international distributors and fest programmers. Scroll down for the full list.
In previous years, the ‘Great 8’ was launched during the physical Cannes festival but this year the event will be streamed on June 17 in advance of the Cannes virtual market at the end of the month. Buyers and festival programmers will have exclusive access to unseen footage from each of the titles, which will be introduced by their filmmakers and made available across five different time zones.
All titles are now in post-production and are available to buyers during the online Cannes Marché, which takes place June 21-25. Movies selected in previous years include Michaela Coel’s musical Been So Long, which was snapped up by Netflix in a splashy deal after the festival in 2017 and BAFTA-nominated horror Saint maud.
Here’s this year’s list:
Director: Prasanna Puwanarajah
Writer: Stacey Gregg
Producers: James Bierman, Nik Bower
Cast: Seána Kerslake, Patrick Kielty
Production – Empire Street Productions/Riverstone Pictures/Cowtown Pictures
Sales: Bankside Films
Synopsis: Eileen is a caustic, unrepentant university drop-out whose dreams of a successful life in London have fallen by the wayside. Back at home with her mum, she makes ends meet by working as an unlicensed driver in her ex-boyfriend’s minicab. Shane has exiled himself in Ballywalter following the break-up of his marriage, but he’s trying to get his life back on track by enrolling in a stand-up comedy course. When Shane calls a taxi to get him to his classes, Eileen answers and a surprising connection is made. As the two spend time together shuttling back and forth, a beautiful friendship develops.
Director: Ruth Paxton
Writer: Justin Bull
Producers: Leonora Darby, Mark Lane, James Harris, Nik Bower, Laure Vaysse
Cast: Sienna Guillory, Jessica Alexander, Ruby Stokes, Kaine Zajaz, Lindsay Duncan
Production: Tea Shop Productions/Riverstone Pictures/REP Productions 8
Sales: Hanway Films
Synopsis: Widowed mother Holly is radically tested when her teenage daughter Betsey experiences a profound enlightenment and insists that her body is no longer her own, but in service to a higher power. Bound to her newfound faith, Betsey refuses to eat, but loses no weight. In an agonising dilemma, torn between love and fear, Holly is forced to confront the boundaries of her own beliefs.
Director: Aml Ameen
Writer: Aml Ameen, Bruce Purnell
Producers: Matthew G Zamias, Damian Jones, Aml Ameen, Dominique Telson, Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor
Cast: Aml Ameen, Aja Naomi King, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Tamara Lawrence
Production: DJ Films, Studi0 113, BFI, Film4, Warner Bros UK
Sales: Rocket Science
Synopsis: Boxing Day is a celebration of love and family through a Black-British lens, inspired by director Aml Ameen’s own life. The film follows Melvin, a British author living in America who returns home to London for Christmas to introduce his American fiancé Lisa to his eccentric British-Caribbean family. Their relationship is put to the test, as she discovers the world her fiancé has left behind.
BRIAN AND CHARLES
Director: Jim Archer
Writer: David Earl, Chris Hayward
Producer: Rupert Majendie
Cast: David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey, Jamie Michie, Nina Sosanya
Production: Mr Box, BFI, Film4
Sales: Bankside Films
Synopsis: Brian lives alone in a remote Welsh valley. Something of an outcast, he spends his spare time inventing things and one day decides to build a robot for company. Charles is not only Brian’s most successful invention, but it appears to have a personality all its own. However, it creates more problems than Brian bargained for, and the timid inventor has to face up to several issues in his life: his eccentric ways, a local bully, and a woman he’s always been fond of but never had the nerve to talk to.
THE REAL CHARLIE CHAPLIN
Directors: Peter Middleton, James Spinney
Writers: Oliver Kindeberg, Peter Middleton, James Spinney
Producers: Ben Limberg, John Battsek, Mike Brett, Steve Jamieson, Jo-Jo Ellison
Production: Archers Mark, Passion Pictures, Smaller Biggie, BFI, Film4, Showtime
Sales: Altitude Film Sales
Synopsis: From the award-winning creative team behind Notes On Blindness and Listen To Me, Marlon comes a contemporary take on cinema’s most iconic figure. In an innovative blend of newly-unearthed audio recordings, dramatic reconstructions and personal archive, the film traces Charlie Chaplin’s meteoric rise from the slums of Victorian London to the heights of Hollywood superstardom, before his scandalous fall from grace. Refracting his life through a kaleidoscope of previously unheard voices and perspectives, the film sheds new light on the many sides of a ground-breaking, controversial and visionary artist.
RIDE THE WAVE
Director: Martyn Robertson
Producers: Martyn Robertson, Louise Storrie
Production: Blackhouse Films
Sales: MetFilm Sales
Synopsis: Having participated in competition surfing since he turned 11, 14-year-old Scottish champion Ben Larg is not afraid of a challenge, and what bigger challenge for a young surfer than one of the biggest and most dangerous cold water waves in the world at Mullaghmore, Ireland. If he gets it right, he joins an elite group. If he gets it wrong, the consequences are terrifying.
Director: Charlotte Colbert
Writer: Kitty Percy, Charlotte Colbert
Producers: Jessica Malik, Bob Last
Cast: Alice Krige, Kota Eberhardt, Malcolm McDowell, Rupert Everett
Production: Popcorn Group, Rocket Science, Intermission Film, Pressman Film
Sales: Rocket Science
Synopsis: After a double mastectomy, fading star Veronica Ghent goes to a healing retreat in rural Scotland with her young nurse Desi. The two develop an unlikely bond after mysterious forces give Veronica the power to enact revenge in her dreams.
Director: Harry Wootliff
Writer: Harry Wootliff, Molly Davies
Producers: Tristan Goligher, Ruth Wilson, Ben Jackson, Jude Law
Cast: Ruth Wilson, Tom Burke
Production: The Bureau, Lady Lazarus, Riff Raff UK, BFI, BBC Film
Sales: The Bureau Sales
Synopsis: Kate is sleep-walking through life when a chance sexual encounter with a charismatic stranger awakens her. High on infatuation, what follows is an intoxicating car crash.
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‘Great 8’ 2021: BFI, Film4, BBC Film & British Council Unveil Lineup Of Hot Brit Titles In Post-Production For Cannes Virtual Market