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Best of British brought to screen

The screening of the documentary Amy at the Cine Studio marks the opening of the British Film Days 2019, three days of top British films from Friday to Sunday.

In the first of the screenings, by Bafta award-winning British director Asif Kapadia, Amy tells the incredible story of six-time Grammy-winner Amy Winehouse – in her own words.

A once-in-a-generation talent, Amy Winehouse instantly captured the world’s attention. A pure jazz artist in the most authentic sense – she wrote and sung from the heart using her musical gifts to analyse her own problems. The combination of her raw honesty and supreme talent resulted in some of the most unique and adored songs of modern era. Tragically, relentless media attention coupled with Amy’s troubled relationships, her global success and precarious lifestyle saw her life fall apart. As a society, we celebrated her huge successes but were quick to judge her failings when it suited us. The talent that was initially her salvation eventually became the trigger for her disintegration. Amy Winehouse died from alcohol poisoning in July 2011 at the age of 27.

A very different subject, the relationship between Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) during the filming of Psycho is explored in the second British film to be screened, Hitchcock.

In 1959, Hitchcock and his wife are at the top of their creative game as filmmakers amid disquieting insinuations about it being time to retire. To recapture his youthful artistic daring, Alfred decides his next film will be to adapt the lurid horror novel Psycho, despite everyone’s misgivings. Unfortunately, as Alfred self-finances and labours on this film, Alma finally loses patience with his roving eye and controlling habits with his actresses. When an ambitious friend lures her to collaborate on a work of their own, the resulting marital tension colours Alfred’s work even as the novel’s inspiration haunts his dreams.

The third and last film is about yet another public British figure. Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister in the midst of World War II and faces make-or-break moment of truth. Days into his new role in 1940, as Britain was getting pounded and on the verge of losing to Germany, Churchill was under pressure to make a deal with Hitler that would have established Britain as a puppet state of the Third Reich. His army stranded in Dunkirk, Churchill instead summoned the courage to fight on.

This is the story of Churchill’s decisions, and the actions and immortal speeches in those critical days that defined his place in history and changed the destiny of the world.

British Film Days
Screenings of Amy, January 11. 9pm; Hitchcock, January 12. 8pm; and Darkest Hour, January 13. 8pm. Cine Studio, Makedonitissas 46, Nicosia.