Ruthe Stein, co-director and main programmer of the Mostly British Film Festival, most definitely knows British films -- and she also knows San Francisco. That's why, Stein, along with a 10-person board, saw to it that in it's sixth year MBFF brought the City the goods with a power-packed line-up. The eight-day program is a showcasing of 25 films from the U.K., Ireland, Australia and South Africa, February 13-20 at San Francisco's historic Vogue Theater.
Like any year, Stein attended the Toronto International Film Festival to scope out the scene. In addition, Stein tells SF Weekly that she keeps a close watch on films showing at the London Film Festival as well as festivals in Edinburgh, Dublin, Sydney and Melbourne before deciding on a final line-up for MBFF.
And to kick of this year's series is the new comedy-drama Le Weekend, starring Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent (who will always be etched in my memory as the robust, larger-than-life Harold Zidler of Moulin Rouge, prancing and singing an onscreen parody of Madonna's "Like a Virgin"). In this love story, Duncan and Broadbent, Meg and Nick, respectively, visit the city of love, Paris, to reignite their marriage. (February 13, at 7:30 p.m., $12.50) Check out the trailer:
The weekend continues on the theme of romance with Valentine's Day specials, including the cult classic, Love Actually complete with all the "shits", "buggers", "fucks", "wankers" and all -- and I can't forget to mention the noteworthy rendition of "Christmas is all Around," performed by Bill Nighy as the hilarious rockstar Billy Mack -- whom to me seems to be the original Russell Brand -- am I right? (February 14 at 7 p.m., $12.50)
But the following day goes on to one up itself with an onstage conversation with the one-and-only Michael York. Of course, York is respectfully known for his roles in Cabaret and Murder on the Orient Express, but for you younger folks... You are likely to know him as Basil Exposition of the Austin Powers series. The British-born film and stage acting veteran will participate in a Q&A as well as introduce one of his favorite films, England Made Me, which he played an Englishman in pre-World War II Europe. Yeaaaah, Baaaaby! (February 15 at 8 p.m., $25)
The final highlight of MBFF is the closing night, whence comes the screening of Summer in February, which is Dan Stevens' first film role since leaving Downton Abbey. Stevens, the onscreen heart throb, plays Gilbert Evans caught in a love triangle based on a real life affair, which involved painter Alfred Munnings (Dominic Cooper) and Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Don't worry Downton Abbey fans, Matthew Crawley may be dead, but Stevens' film career has just taken flight.
You see folks, MBFF stands for, the "Most Best Film Festival" of February. Not only are the films kick-ass, but the MBFF raises money for the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, an organization devoted to the preservation of historic movie theaters. So get out the tea and crumpets and all the other insensitive stereotypically British snacks and refreshments, and support the funding of local theaters whilst feasting your eyes upon the finest non-American, English films.
Visit mostlybritish.org for full-schedule and tickets. Festival passes are available at $135 and individual screenings are available at $12.50.