Seventh Mostly British fest spotlights UK films and more 

click to enlarge Jack O’Connell stars in “Starred Up,” a gritty 2013 prison drama that shares the opening night bill of the Mostly British Film Festival with “’71.” - COURTESY PHOTO
  • COURTESY PHOTO
  • Jack O’Connell stars in “Starred Up,” a gritty 2013 prison drama that shares the opening night bill of the Mostly British Film Festival with “’71.”
The Mostly British Film Festival returns Feb. 12, with everything from gritty dramas to off-kilter romcoms to a silent documentary. The seventh annual event, with most screenings at the Vogue Theatre in The City, includes standout new releases, some of which may never see regular U.S. distribution, and treasured and obscure oldies.

Twenty-eight films from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and South Africa are on the slate of the 11-day fest.

Despite being in English and offering popular treats such as early Hitchcock, “Lawrence of Arabia” and Maggie Smith, British cinema is often considered too foreign to be released in the U.S. Mostly British (a benefit for the S.F. Neighborhood Theater Foundation, which works to save historic local theaters) was created to bring a hearty serving of it to Bay Area filmgoers.

Leading off this year’s fest is “’71,” debut director Yann Demange’s period thriller about a British solider abandoned in strife-plagued Belfast. Jack O’Connell stars.

“The Riot Club,” a satire from director Lone Scherfig (“An Education”) about a secret Oxford club and the ugly side of privilege, closes the regular lineup on Feb. 19.

In between, look for the Australian Aboriginal drama “Charlie’s Country” on Feb. 15, veteran director Ken Loach’s fact-based “Jimmy’s Hall” on Feb. 15 and the indie sex dramedy “Bonobo” on Feb. 17. Documentaries include “Leslie Howard: he Man Who Gave a Damn” on Feb. 14 and the silent-era “The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands” on Feb. 15.

Special guests include actor Malcolm McDowell, appearing in conversation Feb. 20.

IF YOU GO

Mostly British Film Festival

Where: Vogue Theatre, 3290 Sacramento St., S.F.

When: Feb. 12-22

Tickets: $10 to $30 (per screening) $100 to $135 (pass)

Contact: www.mostlybritish.org

Select highlights

Starred Up: An explosive incarcerated 19-year-old deals with gang pressures, corrupt authorities, and his estranged father in David Mackenzie’s 2013 prison drama.Opening-night it-boy Jack O’Connell stars. (9 p.m. Feb. 12)

Our Man in Havana: Screening on Noir Night, this comedy-laced thriller marks “Third Man” director Carol Reed’s third collaboration with writer Graham Greene. Alec Guinness plays a vacuum-cleaner salesman in prerevolutionary Cuba who is recruited to spy for Britain. (9 p.m. Feb. 13)

Love Marriage in Kabul: Amin Palangi’s documentary follows Australian-Afghan charitable-foundation head Mahboba Rawi as she tries to make it possible for two young Afghan sweethearts to marry. Complications arise when the young woman’s father issues unexpected demands. (3:30 p.m. Feb. 15)

The Turning: This multi-director Australian Night centerpiece contains interlocking stories set in a seaside town, based on writings by Tim Winton. The cast includes Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne. (7:30 p.m. Feb. 15)

Everyday: A working-class family struggles to stay together when the father is in jail in this drama filmed by Michael Winterbottom over five years, like a mini-“Boyhood.” Shirley Henderson plays the mom. (5 p.m. Feb. 18)

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Anita Katz

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