Now Playing! Mostly British Film Fest Basks in Empire’s Fading Light

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Gabriel Byrne, David Tennant and Elizabeth Moss in 'Mad to be Normal.' (Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films)

From its inception 10 years ago, the annual Mostly British Film Festival (Feb. 15-22 at the Vogue) has gone beyond and below the Masterpiece Theatre period affairs so beloved by KQED viewers. Long before Brexit was merely a crass, bad idea in some dodgy politician’s bonnet, the MBFF’s lifeblood has always been the gritty realities of contemporary Britain, augmented with a choice selection of edgy classics from yesteryear. Like most festivals, Mostly British sandwiches the tougher-minded fare, which typically doesn’t receive theatrical distribution, between hunks of well-appointed, crowd-comforting ci-ne-mah.

Roger Allam and Dean Ridge in 'The Hippopotamus.'
Roger Allam and Dean Ridge in 'The Hippopotamus.' (Courtesy of Mostly British Film Festival)

So you’ll see lots of familiar faces, notably David Tennant (of Broadchurch and Dr. Who) as innovative Scottish psychotherapist Dr. RD Laing in the fest opener Mad to be Normal (Feb. 15) and Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt fielding questions on the Vogue stage before she appears as a psychic’s partner in the new American indie A Crooked Somebody (Feb. 16). Orlando director Sally Potter’s scabrous black comedy of manners The Party (Feb. 16) boasts the brilliant Kristin Scott-Thomas and Timothy Spall, while John Jenck’s adaptation of Stephen Fry’s cuttingly funny novel, The Hippopotamus (Feb. 17), catalogs a failed writer’s drunken shenanigans on a country getaway. Smart people with messy lives, you say, but where’s the grit? Oh, it’s there, all right.

The Mostly British Film Festival plays Feb. 12-22 at the Vogue Theatre in San Francisco. For tickets and more information, click here.