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First Look Photo Unveiled as Clio Barnard’s ALI & AVA Starring Adeel Akhtar And Claire Rushbrook Wraps In The UK

22 January 2020

Principal photography has wrapped on ALI & AVA, the fourth feature from writer-director CLIO BARNARD (Dark River, The Selfish Giant, The Arbor), starring ADEEL AKHTAR (Four Lions, ‘Back To Life’) and CLAIRE RUSHBROOK (Secrets & Lies, ‘Home Fires’). 

The film is a compelling contemporary British love story imbued with the intricacies of age, class and race. 

ALI & AVA is produced by Clio Barnard’s long-term producer Tracy O’Riordan (Dark River, The Selfish Giant, Dream Horse) of Moonspun Films.  The film is financed by BBC Films, BFI (awarding National Lottery funding) and Screen Yorkshire, with Altitude handling world sales and UK and Irish distribution.  Shooting recently took place on location in Bradford.

AVA (Claire Rushbrook) is a respected matriarch on a predominantly white Bradford estate.  In her fifties and from an Irish-Catholic background, Ava is a devoted mother, grandmother and teaching assistant who fills her time looking after others and listening to country and folk music, masking the scars left by an abusive ex-husband.  ALI (Adeel Akhtar) is a charismatic son, brother, boss and landlord, an avid music and book lover and moon watcher.  In his mid-thirties, Ali is devoted to his family and Asian community in Bradford.  Still living with his estranged wife, he hides their separation from his family, painfully continuing the charade of marital domesticity because he still loves her.  Both lonely for different reasons, Ava and Ali find each other and sparks fly fierce, despite their own fears about intimacy and expectations of their families and communities.

Writer/director Clio Barnard has established herself as one of the UK’s most distinctive cinematic voices.  Her feature-length debut The Arbor, a documentary about the late Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar, received huge critical success on its release in 2010 and numerous awards.  Her sophomore feature The Selfish Giant, about two 13-year-old working-class friends in Bradford seeking their fortune, launched at Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2013 and won the British Film of the Year at the London Critics Circle Film Awards along with a host of other festival awards.  Her third feature, Dark River, starring Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley and Sean Bean premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival gaining a special mention from the festival jury for the Platform Prize.   

Producer Tracy O’Riordan says of the film ‘It was wonderful to be back in Bradford shooting Clio’s fourth feature; a love story, based on people we have met whilst making our previous films there. Inspired by Fassbinder’s ‘Fear Eats the Soul’, ALI & AVA is a film about fear and courage, loneliness and belonging, time and love’.

Claire Rushbrook was most recently seen in leading roles in ‘Don’t Forget The Driver’ (BBC) and ‘No Offence’ (Channel 4). Her film credits include Secrets and Lies, Under The Skin, Spider-Man Far From Home and the upcoming Enola Holmes opposite Millie Bobby Brown.  Claire was nominated for a BAFTA for her work on ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ (E4), and for an RTS Award for her work on ‘Home Fires’ (ITV).  Other television credits include ‘Requiem’ (BBC), ‘Kiri’ (Channel 4), Abi Morgan’s drama ‘The Split’ (BBC), ‘Black Mirror’ (Netflix), ‘Whitechapel’ (ITV) and a key role in Emmy nominated series ‘Genius: Einstein’ (National Geographic) and recently on Sky One’s ‘Temple’ opposite Mark Strong.

Adeel Akhtar has received acclaim for both his comedic roles and his dramatic performances in films including Four Lions, The Big Sick, The Dictator, Pan, Swimming With Men and Victoria and Abdul.  In 2017 he won the BAFTA Leading Actor Award for his role in the BBC drama ‘Murdered by My Father’, making history for being the first non-white actor to do so.  His television work also includes the role of Wilson Wilson in C4’s ‘Utopia’ for which he was BAFTA nominated for Best Supporting Actor and the BBC mini-series’ ‘Capital’ and ‘The Night Manager’. His most recent TV role is playing Billy in the critically acclaimed BBC series ‘Back to Life’ and his upcoming films include The Nest with Jude Law premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. 



About Moonspun Films
Moonspun Films was established in 2008 by UK based producer Tracy O’Riordan.  Prior to this Tracy worked as a drama development executive and story editor before moving into physical production in 2002 -  credits include Stephan Frears multi-award winning The Queen and the acclaimed Of Time and the City by Terence Davies. 

In 2009 Tracy produced The Arbor, for Artangel, the first feature directed by Clio Barnard, which won 6 national and 3 international awards and was nominated for a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut. Following this Tracy produced The Selfish Giant; Barnard’s sophomore feature.  The Selfish Giant was selected for Director’s Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival 2013 and was nominated for a BAFTA for Outstanding British Film. In 2016 Tracy produced Barnard’s third feature DARK RIVER, which screened at TIFF (Platform Prize - Honorable Mention) and London Film Festival in 2017.  

Following this, Tracy then went on to produce MONSOON, the second feature from Hong Khaou (LILTING) which was shot entirely on location in Vietnam in 2018, starring Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians.  In Spring 2019 Tracy produced Dream Horse, alongside Katherine Butler for RAW/Film4 and Film Cymru Wales.  Dream Horse is directed by Euros Lynn, written by Neil McKay and stars Toni Collette and Damian Lewis and will have its World Premiere in Sundance Film Festival 2020.  In Autumn 2019 Tracy produced Barnard’s fourth feature, Ali & Ava a love story set in Bradford, starring Claire Rushbrook and Adeel Akhtar, which is currently in post-production. 

About BBC Films
BBC Films is at the forefront of independent filmmaking in the UK, developing and co-producing around 15 films a year. Rose Garnett is the Director of BBC Films.

BBC Films has five films premiering at Sundance 2020: Sean Durkin’s highly anticipated THE NEST, starring Jude Law and Carrie Coon; NEVER, RARELY, SOMETIMES, ALWAYS the third film from acclaimed director, Eliza Hittman and produced by PASTEL; HERSELF directed by Phyllida Lloyd from a script by Clare Dunne and Malcolm Campbell; HIS HOUSE by first-time UK writer/director, Remi Weekes; and SURGE, the debut feature from director Aneil Karia starring Ben Whishaw.

Recent BBC Films releases include Oscar®-nominated JUDY directed by Rupert Goold and starring Renée Zellweger as the iconic Judy Garland; BLUE STORY, the debut feature from Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu and starring newcomers Stephen Odubola and Michael Ward; Ken Loach’s SORRY WE MISSED YOU, written by regular collaborator Paul Laverty; Joanna Hogg’s THE SOUVENIR, which won the International Grand Jury Prize at Sundance film festival in January; and Jonathan Glazer’s extraordinary short THE FALL, which is on iPlayer now.

Upcoming BBC Films titles include Jane Campion’s first feature film for 10 years, THE POWER OF THE DOG starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Elisabeth Moss; AMMONITE, written and directed by Francis Lee, starring Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet; MUGHAL MOWGLI directed by Bassam Tariq and co-written, produced by and starring Riz Ahmed; THE SOUVENIR: PART II, Joanna Hogg’s sequel to her Sundance award-winner; MISBEHAVIOUR from Philippa Lowthorpe starring Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jessie Buckley; and SUPERNOVA from Harry Macqueen starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci.


About The BFI
The BFI Film Fund invests over £50 million of National Lottery funding a year into developing and supporting filmmakers with diverse, bold and distinctive projects, that have a cultural relevance or progressive ideas, and which reflect people from different backgrounds, as well as a range of activities to increase the opportunities for audiences to enjoy them.

The BFI slate includes Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You and Jessica Hausner’s Little Joe which both premiered in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival, where the latter was awarded the Best Actress prize for Emily Beecham; Tribeca Film Festival Best Documentary Feature Scheme Birds from directors Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin; and Saint Maud, the debut feature from Rose Glass, and Rocks from award-winning director Sarah Gavron and producer Faye Ward, which both premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Recent titles include Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir, winner of the World Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival; Dirty God from Berlin Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize winner Sacha Polak; Shola Amoo’s critically acclaimed directorial debut The Last Tree, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival; Peter Strickland’s In Fabric, starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste; and Locarno Film Festival Special Jury Prize and BIFA Best Debut Director award-winner Ray & Liz by filmmaker Richard Billingham.

Currently in prep, production or post are Chasing Chaplin from three-time BAFTA nominees Peter Middleton and James SpinneyPhilippa Lowthorpe’s Misbehaviour starring Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha Raw and Jessie Buckley; Ammonite, directed by Francis Lee starring Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet; Jessica Swale’s Summerland starring Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw; Herself directed by Phyllida Lloyd and starring Clare Dunne; and Surge directed by Aneil Karia and starring Ben Whishaw.

The BFI is the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image. It is a distributor of National Lottery funding and a cultural charity that:

• Curates and presents the greatest international public programme of world cinema for audiences; in cinemas, at festivals and online

• Cares for the BFI National Archive – the most significant film and television archive in the world

• Actively seeks out and supports the next generation of filmmakers

• Works with Government and industry to make the UK the most creatively exciting and prosperous place to make film internationally.

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Josh Berger CBE.

About Screen Yorkshire
Screen Yorkshire champions the film, TV, games and digital industries in Yorkshire and the Humber, UK. Its aim is to secure and support the very best projects, companies and individuals, helping to make the region one of the most sought-after destinations for production in the UK.

Screen Yorkshire offers production financing through its Yorkshire Content Fund. Credits include: Official Secrets, All Creatures Great and Smalll, Hope Gap, Ackley Bridge, Dark River, Yardie, Ghost Stories, Stardog & Turbocat, Journeyman, Dad’s Army, Swallows and Amazons, Testament of Youth, ’71, National Treasure, The Great Train Robbery, Peaky Blinders, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and Hank Zipzer.

Screen Yorkshire delivers the Film Office services for Yorkshire & Humber and has been leading the development of the Yorkshire Screen Hub, a cluster for the screen industries, recognised by the BFI in 2016 as the first awardee of funds from its Creative Cluster Challenge Fund. Screen Yorkshire also works with ScreenSkills, NFTS and the BFI to develop regional and UK wide talent by devising and delivering industry schemes.

About Altitude Film Entertainment
Altitude Film Entertainment
is the independent studio comprising of vertically integrated Altitude Film Production led by Will Clarke chairman and joint-CEO with Andy Mayson; Altitude Film Sales with Managing Director Mike Runagall; and Altitude Film Distribution with Managing Director Hamish Moseley.

Altitude Film Sales slate includes:
Son, Ivan Kavanagh’s horror starting Andi Matichak and Emile Hirsch; Beards, directed by David Freyne and starring Fionn O’Shea, Lola Petticrew, Barry Ward and Sharon Horgan;  The Power by BAFTA-nominated writer-director Corinna Faith and starring Rose Williams; Black Water Abyss directed by Andrew Traucki; Guns Akimbo directed by Jason Lei Howden and starring Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving which had its World premiere at Toronto; Billie directed by award-winning filmmaker James Erskine and produced by Victoria Gregory and Barry Clark-Ewers; SAS: Red Notice directed by Magnus Marten and starring Sam Heughan, Ruby Rose, Andy Serkis, Hannah John-Kamen, Tom Hopper, Noel Clarke and Tom Wilkinson; Rocks, directed by Sarah Gavron which received its World Premiere as the opening gala for Toronto’s director driven Platform selection; Calm with Horses directed by Nick Rowland and starring Cosmo Jarvis; Barry Keoghan, Ned Dennehy and Niamh Algar; Simon Bird’s  directorial debut Days of the Bagnold Summer starring Monica Dolan, Earl Cave, Rob Brydon, Alice Lowe and Tamsin Greig; Sulphur and White directed by BAFTA-nominated Julian Jarrold and starring Mark Stanley, Emily Beecham, Anna Friel and Dougray Scott; Chasing Chaplin from BAFTA and Sundance nominated filmmakers Peter Middleton and James Spinney; and Great White directed by Martin Wilson.

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