Strong show for British film at Venice and Toronto

New films from Jonathan Glazer, Amma Asante and Stephen Frears are among an impressive count of British premieres at the Venice and Toronto film festivals.

Samuel Wigley

Belle (2013)

Belle (2013)

Two of the film world’s biggest festivals revealed their lineups this week, with British cinema featuring heavily in both the Venice programme and Toronto’s first raft of titles.

Jonathan Glazer’s much anticipated science-fiction drama Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson, and Stephen Frears’ Philomena, teaming Judi Dench with Steve Coogan, both receive their world premieres in competition at Venice. They will compete alongside titles including the new film from Terry Gilliam, The Zero Theorem, and John Curran’s Tracks, the story of a camel trek across the Australian outback. Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity opens the festival on 28 August.

Screen Daily reports Alberto Barbera, the festival’s artistic director, commenting: “I was surprised and very impressed by the quality of the films I saw in London when I came in early July. It really is an impressive and unusually strong year for UK films.”

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from 5-15 September and includes world premieres of Amma Asante’s Belle, the true story about the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle; Richard Ayoade’s The Double; Ralph Fiennes’s The Invisible Woman; David Mackenzie’s Starred Up; Roger Michell’s Le Week-end; Richard Shepard’s Dom Hemingway; and John Ridley’s All Is by My Side. The new film from British director Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave, also receives its world premiere.

“Both the Lido and the Lightbox will welcome a host of British films and talent this year,” comments Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, “with at least 12 UK films in Toronto and five at Venice, with a number competing for the prestigious Golden Lion.”

“It’s fantastic to see these two stellar festivals launching a range of exciting new British films to European and North American audiences and my warmest congratulations go to all those with films in selection.”

Under the Skin, Philomena, Belle, The Double, The Invisible Woman and Le Week-end are all backed by the BFI Film Fund.

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