BFI, British Council Unveil Cannes Film Market Great8 Lineup

The BFI and British Council have unveiled the eight new British films that will be presented to international distributors and festival programmers at the Cannes film market as part of the annual Great8 showcase.

Unseen footage from the films, from first and second time U.K. filmmakers, will be introduced by their filmmakers and screened on May 11. Now in its sixth year, the initiative is in partnership with BBC Film and Film4. Films previously highlighted by Great8 include Charlotte Wells’ “Aftersun,” Rungano Nyoni’s “I Am Not A Witch,” Georgia Oakley’s “Blue Jean” and Rose Glass’ “Saint Maud.”

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Agnieszka Moody, BFI head of international and industry policy, said: “The lineup of films and filmmakers featuring in this year’s Great8 continues to shine a light on the exciting diversity of filmmaker voices and stories continuing to come out of the U.K. We are proud alongside our partners at the British Council, BBC Film and Film4 that our previous selections have been successful for international programmers and distributors, and with audiences worldwide.”

Briony Hanson, the British Council’s director of film, added: “It’s a real privilege to be able to present eight U.K. filmmakers and have confidence in saying they are all destined for greatness. It’s been a tough call to narrow down the selection this year and we were spoilt for choice, but the final eight – ranging from our youngest ever Great8 talent to voices from across the whole U.K. – balances hard-hitting emotional drama with laughs and even a little song and dance. It doesn’t sound typically British – but trust us, it is!”

The Great8 2023 lineup is:

“Black Dog”
Director: George Jaques
Writers: Jamie Flatters, George Jaques
Producers: George Jaques, Ken Petrie, Jamie Flatters, Ian Sharp
Executive producer: David Parfitt
Cast: Jamie Flatters, Keenan Munn-Francis
Production: Athenaeum Productions, 27 Ten in association with Trademark Films and Sharp House
Sales: Independent Entertainment (worldwide)

Synopsis – Two teenage boys from very different London backgrounds embark on a road trip north together. Nathan is running away from his foster home in search of his sister who he thinks lives in Scotland, while Sam is heading to the north-east of England to see him mum. After a chance encounter, Sam agrees to give Nathan a ride north in his mum’s car and as their impromptu adventure together takes an unexpected turn, the boys begin to open up and learn they have far more in common than they first thought.

“Bonus Track”
Comedy-Love story
Director: Julia Jackman
Writer: Mike Gilbert (story by Josh O’Connor and Mike Gilbert)
Producers:  Stephanie Aspin, Campbell Beaton and Helen Simmons
Cast:  Joe Anders, Samuel Small, Jack Davenport, Alison Sudol, Josh O’Connor
Production: Erebus Pictures in association with Lunapark Pictures and Fortune Films
Sales: Bankside Films

Synopsis – It’s 2006, and George – a small-town 16-year old – is on the road to complete social and academic failure. He dreams of being a star, knows he’s a gifted musician – but no one else seems to agree… So, when Max – the son of a mega-famous musical duo – enrols at his school and takes an interest in his music, George can’t believe it! Neither can anyone else. But as the boys grow closer, George begins to question why he actually wants to spend time with Max… George is faced with a potential dream come true – if he can just figure out what that dream now really is…

“Chuck Chuck Baby”
Director-Writer: Janis Pugh
Producers: Anne Beresford, Adam Partridge, Andrew Gillman, Peggy Cafferty
Cast: Louise Brealey, Annabel Scholey, Sorcha Cusack, Celyn Jones
Production:  Artemisia Films in association with Delta Pictures for BFI, BBC Film, Ffilm Cymru Wales
Sales: The Yellow Affair

Synopsis – A film of love, loss and music set amongst the falling feathers of a chicken factory. Present day, industrial north Wales. Helen spends her nights packing chickens and her days caring for dying mother-figure Gwen. Helen’s mundane world is turned upside down by the return of Joanne, a crush from her schooldays. The feeling is mutual, and as they fall in love, Helen’s zest for life returns – but Joanne feels the walls close in as she faces something darker from her past.

“Edge of Summer”
Director-Writer: Lucy Cohen
Producers:  Julia Nottingham, Ariadne Kotsaki
Cast:  Joel Sefton-longi, Flora Hylton, Skyer Dennett, Josie Walker, Nichola Burley
Production: Dorothy Street Pictures, BBC Film, BFI
Sales: Dorothy Street Pictures, Julia Nottingham

Synopsis – When 11-year-old Evie arrives in Cornwall, she’s expecting a girls’ holiday with her mum. But when she meets local boy Adam, a mysterious discovery down an old tin mine changes everything. As they begin to question what is real and imagined in their lives above ground, childhood narratives quickly unravel and the darker truths of the adult world seep in.

“In Camera”
Director-writer: Naqqash Khalid
Producers: Juliette Larthe, Mary Burke
Cast:   Nabhaan Rizwan, Amir El-Masry, Rory Fleck Byrne
Production:  Pretty Bird, Public Dreams, BBC Film, BFI, Uncommon Creative Studio
Sales: Together Films

Synopsis – “In Camera” follows Aden – played by  Nabhaan Rizwan – a young actor whose in a cycle of nightmarish auditions. After he receives multiple rejections, Aden takes it upon himself to find a new part to play.

Black comedy drama
Director-writer: Rich Peppiatt
Producers: Jack Tarling, Trevor Birney, co-producer Patrick O’Neill
Cast: Moglai Bap, Mo Chara, DJ Provai, Simone Kirby
Production: Fine Point Films, Mother Tongues Films, Wildcard, BFI (awarding National Lottery funding), Screen Ireland, Coimisiún na Meán, TG4 and Northern Ireland Screen, in association with Great Point Media and Curzon
Sales: Charades

Synopsis – West Belfast, 2019. Fate brings together disillusioned music teacher JJ with self-confessed ‘low life scum’ Naoise and Liam Og, changing the sound of Irish music forever. Under the name Kneecap, their band begins moulding the language to fit their tough, anarchic, hedonistic lives. A language encumbered with forty words for stone now has one for stoned. But to get their voices heard the trio must overcome police, paramilitaries and politicians as the future of the Irish language erupts into the public arena – with them at the centre. Yet their worst enemies are often themselves, as family and relationship pressures threaten their dreams, and their illegal exploits draw condemnation from all sides.

Director-writer: Amrou Al-Kadhi
Producer: Savannah James-Bayly
Cast: Bilal Hasna, Louis Greatorex, Safiyya Ingar, Terique Jarrett, Darkwah
Production: Fox Cub Films, Film4, BFI, Significant Productions in association with AUM Group
Sales: WME Independent (North America/global) and Independent Entertainment (international)

Synopsis – Layla is a struggling Arab drag queen whose confident façade hides their desperate desire for love. When their performance at a belittling corporate Pride event turns into a transgressive takedown, they are surprised to win the affection of marketing executive Max, whose attentions sweep Layla off their feet. The two start an intoxicating romance, but as Layla starts to alter who they are in order to keep Max’s affections, they both have to face uncomfortable truths.

“Starve Acre”
Psychological horror
Director-writer: Daniel Kokotajlo
Producers:  Tessa Ross, Juliette Howell, Emma Duffy
Cast:  Matt Smith, Morfydd Clark, Erin Richards
Production:  House Productions, Access Entertainment, BBC Film, BFI
Sales: Cornerstone

Synopsis – 1970s, rural England. Richard and Juliette’s seemingly idyllic family life is thrown into turmoil when their son Ewan starts acting out of character, creating an insurmountable wedge between the once happy couple.     At Starve Acre, their remote family home, archaeologist Richard buries himself in exploring a folkloric myth that the ancient oak tree on their land is imbued with phenomenal powers. While Juliette turns to the local community to find some kind of peace, Richard obsessively digs deeper.  An unexpected discovery soon occupies the couple’s attention and dark and sinister forces, unwittingly allowed into the home, offer a disturbing possibility of reconnection between them.

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