One of our most-anticipated premieres amongst the Directors’ Fortnight lineup at this year’s Cannes Film Festival is Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava. Following The Arbor, The Selfish Giant, and Dark River, the British director’s latest work is once again set in Bradford and this time draws inspiration from Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Fear Eats the Soul. The love story follows Adeel Akhtar and Claire Rushbrook who play a lonely pair that find unexpected affectation for one another.
“It started with the characters of Ali and Ava, and a question,” Barnard told Variety. “What would happen if you took melodrama as a genre and applied it to a social-realist version of Bradford that’s based on real people? It’s an opportunity to think about what it means to be part of a community. There’s a lot of kindness, generosity and support in Bradford and I wanted to see that writ large on the big screen.”
Sparks fly after ALI and AVA meet through their shared affection for Sofia, the child of Ali’s tenants whom Ava teaches. Ali finds comfort in Ava’s warmth and kindness while Ava finds Ali’s complexity and humour irresistible. As the pair begin to form a deep connection they have to find a way to keep their newfound passion from being overshadowed by the stresses and struggles of their separate lives and histories.
Ali & Ava premieres at Cannes.