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‘Ali & Ava’: First Look at Clio Barnard’s Just-Wrapped Fourth Feature

Principal photography has wrapped on “Ali & Ava,” the fourth feature from writer-director Clio Barnard (“Dark River,” “The Selfish Giant”), starring Adeel Akhtar (“Four Lions”) and Claire Rushbrook (“Secrets & Lies”).

The contemporary British love story follows Ava (Rushbrook), a respected matriarch on a predominantly white Bradford estate masking the scars left by an abusive ex-husband, and Ali (Akhtar), a charismatic son, brother, boss and landlord, still living with his estranged wife but hiding their separation from his family. Both lonely for different reasons, Ava and Ali forge an intimate bond with each other, despite their own fears about intimacy and the expectations of their families and communities.

Pic is produced by Barnard’s long-term producer Tracy O’Riordan (“Dark River,” “The Selfish Giant,” “Dream Horse”) of Moonspun Films, with financing from BBC Films, BFI, and Screen Yorkshire. Altitude is handling world sales and U.K. and Irish distribution.

Shooting recently took place on location in Bradford, the setting for Barnard’s previous films. “It was wonderful to be back in Bradford shooting Clio’s fourth feature, a love story, based on people we have met whilst making our previous films there,” said O’Riordan. “Inspired by Fassbinder’s ‘Fear Eats the Soul,’ ‘Ali & Ava’ is a film about fear and courage, loneliness and belonging, time and love.”

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Barnard has established herself as one of the U.K.’s most distinctive voices since her critically acclaimed debut “The Arbor,” a hybrid-doc exploration of playwright Andrea Dunbar’s working-class family. Her sophomore feature, “The Selfish Giant,” premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2013 and won the British Film of the Year at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards. It was described by Variety as “a jaggedly moving study of a feral adolescent on a rough journey to grace.”

Barnard’s third feature, “Dark River,” starring Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley and Sean Bean premiered at the 2017 Toronto Intl. Film Festival, earning a special mention from the festival jury.

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