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BBC has eight films set for Venice and Toronto Film Festivals

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The BBC has backed eight films selected for two major international film festivals this autumn. The films, which include six world premieres, represent some of the most exciting new voices and revered established talent in British filmmaking.

The Venice International Film Festival (31 August-10 September) will see the world premiere of BBC Film-backed titles The Eternal Daughter, written and directed by Joanna Hogg, which will premiere in Venice in the Official Competition (‘Venezia 79’) before also screening as a Special Presentation in Toronto.

Georgia Oakley’s debut feature film, Blue Jean, will premiere in the Venice Days sidebar (also known as Giornate degli Autori), which focuses on innovation and expressive originality. Also premiering in Venice Days is Fyzal Boulifa’s The Dammed Don’t Cry (French title: Les Damnés Ne Pleurent Pas), his second film following the critically acclaimed debut Lynn + Lucy in 2019, which was also backed by BBC Film, the feature filmmaking arm of the BBC.

Storyville, the BBC’s international feature documentary strand, has backed Casa Susanna, directed by Sébastien Lifshitz, which will premiere as a Special Event in the Venice Days sidebar.

The Toronto International Film Festival (8-18 September) will Ruben Östlund BBC Film-backed Cannes Palme d’Or winner Triangle Of Sadness, as well as Charlotte Wells’ debut feature Aftersun, which won a jury prize in Cannes Critics’ Week. Two further BBC Film titles will have their world premieres as Special Presentations in Toronto: Allelujah, directed by Richard Eyre from a screenplay by Heidi Thomas and based on the stage play by Alan Bennett, and The Lost King, directed by Stephen Frears and written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.

The latest festival selections follow the announcement that Medusa Deluxe, the debut feature from Thomas Hardiman, will premiere in the Piazza Grande at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland in August.

Eva Yates, Director of BBC Film, says: “It’s wonderful to see BBC Film titles by debut and second-time feature filmmakers featuring alongside established heavyweights in Venice and Toronto.

“Georgia Oakley’s powerful and timely debut feature Blue Jean and Fyzal Boulifa’s evocative second film The Damned Don’t Cry hugely deserve their selection for Venice Days. Congratulations to Georgia and producer Hélène Sifre, and to Fyzal and his producers, Vixens, all of whom we feel privileged to support early in their careers.

“We’re incredibly proud to have worked with Joanna Hogg and the team at Element Pictures again on the mesmerising The Eternal Daughter, in Official Competition in Venice, and with Richard Eyre and Stephen Frears and producers Kevin Loader and Damian Jones, and Steve Coogan, Christine Langan and Dan Winch and their teams on Allelujah and The Lost King respectively. Together with Ruben Östlund’s brilliant and biting Triangle Of Sadness, whose team includes UK producer Mike Goodridge, these will be very special presentations in Toronto.

“We’re also delighted that Sébastien Lifshitz’s hypnotic Storyville title Casa Susanna has been selected for Venice.

“Congratulations also to filmmaker Thomas Hardiman, Emu Films and the whole team behind the creatively exceptional Medusa Deluxe, which has been selected by Locarno for its much anticipated world premiere.”

About the films (in alphabetical order):

Aftersun
Written and directed by Charlotte Wells.

Sophie (newcomer Frankie Corio, and Celia Rowlson-Hall as adult Sophie) reflects on the shared joy and private melancholy of a holiday she took with her father (Paul Mescal) 20 years earlier. Memories real and imagined fill the gaps between miniDV footage as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn’t.

Produced by Adele Romanski, Amy Jackson, Barry Jenkins and Mark Ceryak, Aftersun is a Pastel/Unified Theory production presented by BBC Film, BFI and Screen Scotland in association with Tango. The film was developed with BBC Film and was selected for the Sundance Institute’s Directors and Screenwriters Labs in 2020.

Allelujah
Directed by Richard Eyre, from a screenplay by Heidi Thomas. Based on the stage play by Alan Bennett.

When the geriatric ward in a small Yorkshire hospital is threatened with closure, the hospital decides to fight back by galvanizing the local community, and invite a news crew to film their preparations for a concert in honour of the hospital’s most distinguished nurse. What could go wrong?

Allelujah celebrates the spirit of the elderly patients whilst paying tribute to the deep humanity of the medical staff battling with limited resources and ever-growing demand.

The cast is led by Jennifer Saunders and newcomer Bally Gill, supported by Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, David Bradley, Russell Tovey and Julia McKenzie.

Allelujah is produced by Kevin Loader and Damian Jones. It is a Pathé, BBC Film and Ingenious Media presentation of a DJ Films/Redstart Production. Executive Producers are Cameron McCracken and Jenny Borgars for Pathé, Rose Garnett for BBC Film, Andrea Scarso for Ingenious Media; Alan Bennett, Nicholas Hytner, Charles Moore and Paul Grindey.

Blue Jean
Written and directed by Georgia Oakley.

England, 1988. Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government is about to pass a law stigmatizing gays and lesbians, forcing Jean, a gym teacher, to live a double life. As pressure mounts from all sides, the arrival of a new girl at school catalyses a crisis that will challenge Jean to her core.

Blue Jean stars Rosy McEwen as Jean. The cast also includes Kerrie Hayes and newcomer Lucy Halliday.

Produced by Hélène Sifre for Kleio Films, executive produced by Eva Yates for BBC Film and Jim Reeve for Great Point Media and financed by BBC Film and the BFI in association with Great Point Media. Blue Jean was developed through iFeatures 5 (2018) and Inside Out Finance Forum (2019), with the support of BBC Film.

Casa Susanna
A film by Sébastien Lifshitz with the collaboration of Isabelle Bonnet.

In the 50s and 60s, deep in the American countryside at the foot of the Catskills, a small wooden house with a barn behind it was home to the first clandestine network of cross-dressers.

Diane and Kate are now 80 years old. At the time, they were men and part of this secret organisation. Today, they relate this forgotten but essential chapter of the early days of trans-identity. It is a story full of noise and fury, rich in extraordinary characters, including the famous Susanna, who had the courage to create this refuge that came to be known as Casa Susanna.

Casa susanna is an Agat Films production in coproduction with ARTE France, American Experience Films in association BBC Storyville with the support of La PROCIREP – ANGOA, with the participation of CNC International sales PBS WGHB.

The Eternal Daughter
Written and directed by Joanna Hogg.

An artist and her elderly mother confront long-buried secrets when they return to their former family home, a once grand manor haunted by its mysterious past. Starring Tilda Swinton, Joseph Mydell, and Carly-Sophia Davies.

The Eternal Daughter is an Element Pictures production in association JWH Films presented by A24 and BBC Film, who backed development and production. The producers are Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Emma Norton, Joanna Hogg. Executive Producers are Rose Garnett and Martin Scorsese.

The Damned Don’t Cry / Les Damnés Ne Pleurent Pas
Written and directed by Fyzal Boulifa.

Fatima-Zahra and her adolescent son Selim move from place to place, forever trying to outrun the latest scandal she’s caught up in. When Selim discovers the truth about his past, Fatima-Zahra vows to make a fresh start. Arriving in Tangier, they each find new opportunities that promise the legitimacy they crave – but not without threatening their fragile love for one another.

Principal cast: Aicha Tebbae, Abdellah El Hajjouji, with the participation of Antoine Reinartz.

BBC Film presents a Vixens production in co-production with Frakas Productions and Kasbah Films in association with Rosetta Productions with the support of BBC Film, Eurimages, Aide aux cinémas du monde – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée – Institut Français, Centre du cinéma et de l’audiovisuel de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Centre Cinématographique Marocain, Fonds Image de la Francophonie, Belga Productions, Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral Belge, Proximus, Charades and New Story.

The producers are Gary Farkas, Clément Lepoutre, Olivier Muller, Karim Debbagh. The coproducers are Cassandre Warnauts, Jean-Yves Roubin. In association with Camilla Bray. The Executive Producer for BBC Film is Eva Yates.

The Lost King
Directed by Stephen Frears, written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.

In 2012, having been lost for over 500 years, the remains of King Richard III were discovered beneath a carpark in Leicester. The search had been orchestrated by an amateur historian, Philippa Langley, whose unrelenting research had been met with incomprehension by her friends and family, and with scepticism by experts and academics.

The Lost King is the life-affirming true story of a woman who refused to be ignored and who took on the country’s most eminent historians, forcing them to think again about one of the most controversial kings in England’s history.

The film stars Sally Hawkins in the lead role of Philippa Langley, alongside Steve Coogan in the role of Philippa’s husband, John Langley, and Harry Lloyd as King Richard III.

The film is produced by Steve Coogan, Christine Langan and Dan Winch and is a Baby Cow production for Pathé, BBC Film, Ingenious Media and Screen Scotland. Executive Producers are Cameron McCracken and Jenny Borgars for Pathé; Rose Garnett for BBC Film; Andrea Scarso for Ingenious; Jeff Pope and Philippa Langley. The film was co-produced by Wendy Griffin.

Medusa Deluxe
Written and directed by Thomas Hardiman.

A murder mystery set in a competitive hairdressing competition. Extravagance and excess collide, as the death of one of their own sows seeds of division in a community whose passion for hair verges on obsession.

The film features Clare Perkins, Anita-Joy Uwajeh, Kae Alexander, Harriet Webb, Darrell D’Silva and Luke Pasqualino.

Medusa Deluxe is produced by Michael Elliott, Louise Palmkvist Hansen and Lee Groombridge and is an EMU Films production. The film was developed and financed by the BFI and BBC Film, and produced in association with Time Based Arts. Executive Producers are Eva Yates for BBC Film, Lizzie Francke for BFI, and Jim Mooney & Walli Ullah for EMU.

Triangle Of Sadness
Written and directed by Ruben Östlund.

Triangle Of Sadness is an uninhibited satire where roles and class are inverted, and the tawdry economic value of beauty is unveiled. Models Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) are navigating the world of fashion while exploring the boundaries of their relationship. The couple are invited for a luxury cruise with a rogues’ gallery of super-rich passengers: a Russian oligarch, British arms dealers and an idiosyncratic, alcoholic, Marx-quoting captain (Woody Harrelson). At first, all appears Instagrammable. But a storm is brewing, and heavy seasickness hits the passengers during the seven-course captain’s dinner.

The cruise ends catastrophically. Carl and Yaya find themselves marooned on a desert island with a group of billionaires and one of the ship’s cleaners. Hierarchy is suddenly flipped upside down, as the housekeeper is the only one who knows how to fish.

Triangle Of Sadness is produced by Erik Hemmendorff and Philippe Bober. Among the co-producers are Marina Perales Marhuenda, Giorgos Karnavas, Per Damgaard, Julio Chavezmontes and Mike Goodridge.

Imperative Entertainment presents in association with Film i Väst, BBC Film, 30 West a Plattform Produktion production in co-production with Essential Films, Coproduction Office,Sveriges Television, ZDF/Arte, Arte France Cinéma, TRT Sinema with the support of Svenska Filminstitutet, Eurimages, Council of Europe, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, The Danish Film Institute, MOIN – Film Fund Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein and BFI with the participation of Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Arte France, DR, Canal+ and Cine+, in association with Heretic, Bord Cadre films, Sovereign Films, PIANO.