ACMI and the BFI Present a Season of Films from the UK’s Cinematic Vanguard

ACMI, Australia’s national museum of screen culture, in partnership with the BFI (British Film Institute), the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image, is thrilled to announce an Australia exclusive season of 12 feature films and 10 shorts dedicated to celebrating the most exciting and innovative new talent from the UK.
Main photo: ear for eye (2021) – Fruit Tree Productions

Dissenters, Lovers and Ghosts: New British Cinema is a programme exploring cinematic tales of people in the margins from 31 March – 17 April at ACMI.

The season, programmed by BFI Head of Programme and Acquisitions Stuart Brown and curator Nia Childs, is presented as part of the UK/AUS 2021-22 cultural exchange programmes in collaboration with the British Council. It will open with the Australian premiere of celebrated playwright and filmmaker debbie tucker green’s second feature, ear for eye.

The adaptation of her 2018 stage play of the same name stars Lashana Lynch (No Time to Die) and examines the intergenerational tensions between members of the black community in Britain and North America. Made during lockdown following the worldwide uprisings against racism, tucker-green’s film is stylistically and politically radical.

ACMI’s Head of Cinemas, Ghita Loebenstein said: “Together with the BFI we have selected some of Britain’s most daring and exciting filmmakers to share with ACMI audiences. These are stories of political dissenters, lovers and ghosts. These films sit on cinema’s edge – youthful, colourful, sometimes grimy, sexy and anti-colonial. This is the ‘real’ Britain on film, and nobody here is eating a cucumber sandwich.”

BFI Head of Programme and Acquisitions Stuart Brown said: The theme Who Are We Now? is a timely provocation. Our national cinema is flourishing and has seen work of remarkable diversity and quality in the last five years and we wanted to use that like a mirror, selecting films that reflect not just the rich complexity of British identity, but also the exciting directions that filmmakers are taking the form. The films in this season depict a real take on life and society in the UK now, and challenge how we are perceived internationally.’

Helen Salmon, Season Director and Country Director, Australia from the British Council said: “The theme of the UK/Australia Season is Who Are We Now? It brings together artists, thought leaders and academics to explore our history and imagine who we might be in the future. Dissenters, Lovers and Ghosts: New British Cinema, curated by the BFI and ACMI, exemplifies the season theme and offers Australian audiences a more nuanced perspective on contemporary Britain, from the aesthetic of Grime, to the stunning language of debbie tucker green, to Oscar winner Riz Ahmed’s exploration of British Pakistani identity.”

ACMI will also screen the Australian premiere of County Lines, a stylish coming-of-age story directed by youth-worker-turned filmmaker Henry Blake, which exposes the titular urban-to-rural network which exploits children for use as drug couriers.

Key highlights from the program include: The Souvenir: Part I, winner of the 2019 Sundance Grand Jury Prize, and The Souvenir: Part II, from acclaimed writer-director Joanna Hogg (Unrelated, Archipelago). Starring Honor Swinton Byrne and Tilda Swinton (Suspiria, I Am Love), both films will screen in the season as a compelling, two-part semi-autobiographical drama.

Aleem Khan makes his directorial debut with the Melbourne premiere screening of modern British drama After Love, a tale of an English Muslim convert, played by Joanna Scanlan (The Thick of It) who begins unravelling the secrets of her late husband. Kahn’s film is currently nominated for four BAFTAs including Best Director, Leading Actress and Outstanding British Film of the Year.

In Mogul Mowgli, actor/rapper Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Sound of Metal), wrote and produced this arresting story, directed by Bassam Tariq, of a British Pakistani rapper on the eve of his big break when he’s struck down by a mysterious illness that makes him re-examine his life.

Celebrated British director Steve McQueen’s (Widows, 12 Years a Slave) Lovers Rock (the second instalment in his Small Axe series) is a beautifully realised fable of young love and music in the 1980s. With an unforgettable ‘Lovers Rock’ soundtrack, it’s a collective reimagining of a time and place very precious to West Indian Londoners.

We look back at Ammonite director Francis Lee’s sensational feature debut, God’s Own Country. This Sundance award-winning hit stars The Crown’s Josh O’Connor. as a troubled young sheep farmer who embarks on an unlikely romance with a Romanian migrant worker.

Rising talent Rose Glass also makes her directorial debut with Saint Maud, a journey into pathological obsession centred on a religious nurse becoming fixated on trying to save her dying patient; and Sarah Gavron (Suffragette) gives the ‘teen drama’ genre an East London twist in the lively Rocks, starring non-professional actors Bukky Bakray and Kosar Ali in a potent story about female friendship, and siblings who are working through some hard-hitting familial chaos.

Every feature in the season is paired with a short film from an exciting and diverse group of rising British filmmakers unafraid to tackle love, violence, race and identity in their award-winning work.

Finally, a programme of five short films celebrating Grime, a musical subculture and movement which relies heavily on the power and presence of its performers. The programme From Early: The Foundations of the Grime Aesthetic begins at the early days of grime on video, exploring how the DIY aesthetic by pioneers such as Roony Keefe (Risky Roadz) birthed a visual style that pays homage to its cultural roots; that of London estates, pirate radio, sportswear, Blackness, Englishness, otherness, hypermasculinity and more. The program features key players from the Grime scene including Wiley, Kano and Skepta.

Full programme details are available here.

Tickets for Dissenters, Lovers & Ghosts: New British Cinema are now on sale.

ACMI Cinemas, Fed Square
Members $12, Full $18, Concession $14
3-session pass $33–45
6-session pass $66–94
10-session pass $100–120
Book at

As part of this joint collaboration, BFI Southbank in London, UK will be presenting a reciprocal programme of Australian films in September 2022. More details to follow.

Dissenters, Lovers and Ghosts: New British Cinema is supported by the UK/Australia Season Patrons Board, the British Council, and the Australian Government as part of the UK/Australia Season.

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