“I wouldn’t say sparks fly but embers glow”: On the red carpet with Clio Barnard, Claire Rushbrook and Adeel Akhtar at the Ali & Ava premiere
Ali & Ava is the new film from acclaimed British director Clio Barnard, following the unexpected romance that bubbles up between two very different people in the heart of Bradford, a contemporary Romeo & Juliet of lovers later in their lives. Returning to the Northern city the filmmaker has rooted many of her stories in – from The Arbor to The Selfish Giant, and in particular, its sights, sounds and idiosyncratic communities – this is a quiet and understated love story that nonetheless is brimming with nuance and emotion.
The Upcoming had the pleasure of speaking to the cast and director on the red carpet at the London Film Festival 2021.
Barnard told us how the story was inspired by real people and why she was compelled to put it on the big screen: “Both of them are a point in their lives where they’re quite stuck and they are real catalysts for changing each other’s lives.”
Claire Rushbrook, who plays Ava, told us about the story and what the appeal of the project was: “It’s a tender love story among many other things. An exploration of life in a British town in the present day and a study of lots of wonderful characters. Ali and Ava happen to be the ones that we focus on the most. And it’s just an intimate look into what happens when very real people, who live very seemingly normal lives, with all the trials and tribulations that we all live with, what happens when they find each other and – I wouldn’t say sparks fly but embers glow! And it’s an opportunity to just quietly look in on that and enjoy it because it’s very funny and very warm amongst other things.”
Adeel Akhtar then shared his reflections on playing Ali and working with Barnard as a director: “I’ve been a fan of Clio’s work for years and to describe what it’s like working with her on set – I mean, words sort of fail me a little bit. All I know is that the experience as an actor is that you felt very free. It was like nothing else that I’ve sort of experienced before, you know working with a writer-director.”
Videos: Marta Starczynowska
Watch the trailer for Ali & Ava here: