Working Class Heroes
A collection of films lit up by the charisma of working-class stars; a celebration of fine actors and remarkable leading roles.
In Britain (for a time at least) film stars came from comprehensives and council houses. The story begins in the socially mobile 1960s as young working-class talent exploded through music, fashion and film. Through the 80s and 90s a new mood saw a series of inventive British films built around working-class faces, while 21st-century British cinema spotlit the junction of race and class. This season brings together the bold, powerful and provocative films that can be made when working-class stars have the chance to shine.
The Ipcress File
Crime1965108 minsDirector: Sidney J. Furie
The coolest spy of all – Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer – makes his brilliant big screen debut in this landmark British spy thriller.
Prick Up Your Ears
Biopic1987110 minsDirector: Stephen Frears
A celebration of outrageous British playwright Joe Orton’s irreverent and charismatic talent, starring Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina.
Drama2014105 minsDirector: Debbie Tucker Green
What if an immaculate conception took place in a South London household? Idris Elba stars in a subtle, thought-provoking and original family drama.
Thriller2006110 minsDirector: Andrea Arnold
Andrea Arnold’s highly acclaimed film, winner of top prizes at Cannes and the BFI London Film Festival, is a haunting drama about a woman confronting past demons.
Biopic201090 minsDirector: Clio Barnard
Clio Barnard's film about Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar mixes reconstruction, interviews (performed by actors) and scenes from the plays.
Comedy196398 minsSilentDirector: John Schlesinger
Tom Courtenay is the clerk whose overactive fantasies compensate for a dull provincial life, in this classic film from the British New Wave.
This Sporting Life
Sport1963129 minsDirector: Lindsay Anderson
Lindsay Anderson’s fantastic first feature masterfully dissects the brutal life struggles of a rough-edged rugby footballer on and off the field.
Drama201496 minsDirector: Bryn Higgins
Agyness Deyn stars in a powerful story seen through the eyes of a young woman whose epilepsy brings extraordinary hallucinations.
Drama200790 minsDirector: Duane Hopkins
Duane Hopkins’ stunning debut tells a sombre story with startling beauty, as it follows the stories of various addicts in a West Midlands town.
Kelly + Victor
Drama201290 minsDirector: Kieran Evans
In modern Liverpool, a couple meet and begin a transgressive, sexually charged affair set against a background of crime and encroaching danger.
Brand: A Second Coming
Documentary2015105 minsDirector: Ondi Timoner
Russell Brand ponders his political awakening and messianic tendencies in Ondi Timoner’s perceptive and very funny documentary.
Drama200486 minsDirector: Saul Dibb
Ashley Walters impresses in the hard-hitting Hackney drama that’s still one of the best of Britain’s black urban crime films.
My Brother the Devil
Drama2012107 minsDirector: Sally El Hosaini
Sally El Hosaini's feature debut tells of the love and disenchantment of two British-Egyptian brothers. Gangs, drugs and sexuality come between them
Drama1975121 minsDirector: Horace Ové
Hailed as Britain's first black feature film, Pressure is a hard-hitting, honest document of the plight of disenchanted black youths in 1970s London.
The Moon over the Alley
Musical1977108 minsDirector: Joseph Despins
The Moon Over the Alley is a bizarre and compelling musical exploring the problems of multicultural Notting Hill residents in the early 1970s.
Drama196987 minsDirector: Barney Platts-Mills
A fascinating record of 1960s suedehead youth culture which is largely improvised by a non-professional cast of teenagers from east London
Drama196898 minsDirector: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pasolini’s classic about a handsome, enigmatic stranger (Terence Stamp) who arrives at a bourgeois household and seduces an entire family.
Distant Voices, Still Lives
Biopic198881 minsDirector: Terence Davies
Terence Davies' debut feature is a remarkable evocation of working-class family life in the 40s and 50s and a visionary exploration of memory.
Drama197646 minsDirector: Terence Davies
The first part of Terence Davies' formidable Trilogy explores the effects of violence on a Liverpool schoolboy, told in a series of flashbacks.
Madonna and Child
Drama198028 minsDirector: Terence Davies
Autobiography as art: the centrepiece of Terence Davies' devastating Liverpool-set Trilogy focuses on his fictional alter-ego in middle age.
Death and Transfiguration
Drama198326 minsDirector: Terence Davies
The Terence Davies Trilogy reaches its astonishing climax as tortured Liverpool clerk Robert Tucker prepares to meet his maker.
Drama197246 minsDirector: Bill Douglas
The first part of Bill Douglas’ poetic and profoundly stirring autobiographical trilogy, about an eight-year-old boy growing up in a Scottish mining village in 1945.
My Way Home
Drama197872 minsDirector: Bill Douglas
Concluding his acclaimed Trilogy, Bill Douglas’ autobiographical film follows young Jamie as he’s conscripted in the RAF and finally feels at home.
Burning an Illusion
Legal and Courtroom drama1981101 minsDirector: Menelik Shabazz
Menelik Shabazz’s pioneering first feature traces the emotional and political growth of a young black couple in Thatcher’s London.
Hell Is a City
Police drama195996 minsDirector: Val Guest
Punchy crime thriller with a realist streak as Stanley Baker pursues a fugitive through the streets of Manchester.
Crime1997101 minsDirector: Antonia Bird
Robert Carlyle and Ray Winstone are members of a criminal gang that tears itself apart after a heist goes wrong, in Antonia Bird’s stylish thriller.