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Clio Barnard Ali & Ava

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2021: #75. Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava

Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2021: #75. Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava

Ali & Ava

British director Clio Barnard re-teams with her long-time producer Tracy O’Riordan for her fourth feature Ali & Ava, a contemporary love story melodrama shot on location in Bradford. Cast in the lead roles are Claire Rushbrook and Adeel Akhtar, with Ole Bratt Birkeland (Judy, 2019) serving as cinematographer. Barnard’s 2010 breakout The Arbor premiered at Tribeca and 2013’s The Selfish Giant received a Cannes berth in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar in 2013 where it took home the SACD prize. In 2017, Dark River competed in TIFF’s Platform program.

Gist: Inspired by Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Barnard’s latest focuses on intersections of class race and gender concerning its titular characters. Fiftysomething Ava is a matriarch on a predominantly white Bradford estate, a mother and grandmother bearing the scars of an abusive relationship thanks to her ex-husband. Thirtysomething Ali, committed to the Asian community in Bradford, is going through the motions of marital bliss with his wife even though they are technically separated. When Ali and Ava meet the sparks fly but eventually they must contend with the expectations of their respective communities.

Release Date/Prediction: Barnard completed principal photography in January 2020. We expect her to be a likely candidate to premiere in competition at the 2021 Berlinale.


Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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