The 2023 Cunard British Film Festival full program has been unveiled!

This November, the 2023 Cunard British Film Festival presented by Palace will bring the finest British filmmaking, production and acting to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra and Byron Bay at Palace Cinemas, Palace Nova Cinemas and Luna Palace Cinemas.

Many of Britain’s most enduring and well-known faces feature in this year’s stunning selection including Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Spall, Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson in her final film.

The 2023 Festival will open with the premiere of ONE LIFE starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, direct from its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Based on a deeply moving true story of kindness and compassion that was almost forgotten for 50 years, Hopkins delivers a remarkable performance as Sir Nicholas Winton, also known as the “British Schindler”, who helped rescue hundreds of children from Europe on the verge of World War II.

The Festival centrepiece is THE CRITIC, a wickedly mischievous reimagining of Anthony Quinn’s novel Curtain Call, featuring an all-star cast led by Sir Ian McKellen and Gemma Arterton.

Closing the Festival is the Australian Premiere of WICKED LITTLE LETTERS, based on a true scandal of the 1920s. It stars Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley as neighbours in a small town whose residents start receiving anonymous, expletive-laden letters.

The inimitable Sir Michael Caine stars in what is rumoured to be his final film, THE GREAT ESCAPER. Starring alongside the late Glenda Jackson, the pair bring to life the true story of a war veteran who made global headlines when he escaped from his care home to join fellow war veterans on a beach in Normandy to commemorate fallen comrades.

Revered filmmaker Ken Loach continues to examine social and human rights issues in his final film THE OLD OAK, which premiered at the 2023 Cannes International Film Festival. Long-time collaborator Dave Turner stars as a publican who struggles to hold on to his small-town pub as tensions rise upon the arrival of Syrian refugees seeking asylum.

The festival is pleased to announce Marcus Markou, the director of THE WIFE AND HER HOUSE HUSBAND will be visiting Sydney and Melbourne for a series of Q&A sessions. His new film is an engaging drama navigating the highs and lows of married life.

In the biographical drama DANCE FIRST, helmed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Marsh, Gabriel Byrne brings Samuel Beckett to life, exploring the complex public and private life of the Nobel Prize-winning playwright.

Richard E. Grant, Julie Delpy and Daryl McCormack come together in the literary thriller THE LESSON, about a young writer who takes a job tutoring the son of an arrogant literary giant.

Notions of masculinity, self-discovery and gender expression are explored with honesty and insight in writer-director Dionne Edwards’ beautifully poignant PRETTY RED DRESS. An exhilarating sojourn through South London, the film is a story of powerful self-expression, confronting the past, and of course, a glorious red dress.

Festival favourite Timothy Spall leads a diverse ensemble in comedy NORTHERN COMFORT which follows a group with a chronic fear of flying who are stranded in freezing Iceland; bittersweet comedy SWEET SUE from Leo Leigh (son of Mike), focuses on Sue as she re-enters the dating scene after many years. Honest, touching and uplifting, it offers a joyful take on the unexpected second chances life gives you; plus black comedy THE TROUBLE WITH JESSICA, a brilliant ensemble piece featuring Rufus Sewell and Olivia Williams, about the dissolving relationship of two couples and the deadly behaviour of an unexpected dinner guest.

Dame Helen Mirren brings Israel’s historic Prime Minister Golda Meir to vivid life in GOLDA, showcasing a performance befitting one of the most iconic and influential political leaders of the twentieth century. The story follows the tense period of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 when millions of lives hung in the balance.

Turn the clock back a few decades and Helen Mirren stars in the controversial CALIGULA (1981). A highlight of the festival retrospective ‘Britain’s Finest Leading Ladies’, CALIGULA – THE ULTIMATE CUT will be presented in 4K, featuring an unprecedented amount of never-before-seen footage. Starring alongside Mirren is Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole and John Gielgud.



Other retrospective highlights include the 4K restoration of HOWARDS END from revered filmmaker James Ivory, starring Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson and Vanessa Redgrave; THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE, with Maggie Smith’s Oscar winning performance as the unconventional teacher at a conservative school in the 1930s; THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, a deeply moving drama based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro with Emma Thompson and Sir Anthony Hopkins in BAFTA award-winning roles; WOMEN IN LOVE from iconoclast Ken Russell, which explores the relationship between two sisters and two men and showcases Glenda Jackson in her Oscar winning performance; and MORGAN – A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT about an eccentric artist struggling to win back his upper-class wife, played by Vanessa Redgrave.

This year’s Festival Special Presentation is Ken Russell’s daring, risky and mad TOMMY in a stunning 4K restoration. Audiences can indulge in the grand excesses of the epic Rock Opera loosely based on The Who’s album, which stars Roger Daltrey, Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Elton John and Tina Turner.

The 2023 line up showcases a superb selection of documentaries. MY NAME IS ALFRED HITCHCOCK, is extensively and intricately researched, weaving footage from virtually every film Hitchcock ever made to offer a fresh profile of the masterful movie maker and his practice; JACKIE STEWART, a compelling documentary profile of Formula 1 World Champion, team owner and legend of the sport; MAD ABOUT THE BOY, the inspirational story of Noël Coward, the most successful multi-talented artist of the 20th Century who grew up in poverty and left school at nine, told in his own words and music; and Anton Corbijn’s profile of Hipgnosis, the iconic album art design studio that rock royalty used during the 1970s designing iconic album covers for bands including Pink Floyd, Wings, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC in SQUARING THE CIRCLE – THE STORY OF HIPGNOSIS.

Historical thriller IN THE LAND OF SAINTS AND SINNERS stars Liam Neeson, Kerry Condon and Ciarán Hinds. Set in a remote Irish village, a retired assassin finds himself drawn into a lethal game of cat and mouse with a trio of vengeful terrorists; KINDLING is a tale of friendship from the executive producers of The Kings Speech and Soul Surfer, following a group of young men who return to their hometown to turn their friend’s final days into a celebration of life and friendship; and THE FENCE, a coming-of-age story set amongst the streets of 1980s Bristol, which follows a council estate kid out to settle the score with local thieves.

Adapted from the smash stage show, GREATEST DAYS features all the hit songs of British pop icons Take That. An epic musical sure to have audiences singing and dancing through the aisles, it follows five best friends who have the night of their lives seeing their favourite boy band in concert.

The Festival is thrilled to be partnering with Cunard who return for a second year as Naming Rights Partner. Katrina McAlpine, Cunard Director, Australia and New Zealand says: “Cunard has a long-standing affiliation with the silver screen, with some of Hollywood’s biggest names having sailed in style with Cunard – from Charlie Chaplin to Meryl Streep. As the first cruise line to host a film premiere on board with the launch of The Greatest Showman on Queen Mary 2, Cunard is passionate about the power of timeless storytelling and strives to create unparalleled and unforgettable moments for film lovers during the British Film festival.”

The festival opens on Wednesday 1 November in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and Thursday 2 November in Byron Bay, Canberra and Brisbane concluding on Wednesday 29 November in all cities.

The Cunard British Film Festival presented by Palace screens in the following locations:
Sydney: 1 – 29 Nov, Palace Norton St, Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinema, Palace Central
Melbourne: 1 – 29 Nov, The Astor Theatre, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, The Kino and Pentridge Cinema
Adelaide: 1 – 29 Nov, Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinemas
Perth: 1 – 29 Nov, Palace Raine Square, Luna on SX, Leederville and Windsor
Canberra: 2 – 29 Nov, Palace Electric Cinemas
Brisbane: 2 – 29 Nov, Palace Barracks and Palace James Street
Byron Bay: 2 – 29 Nov, Palace Byron Bay