Ava (Claire Rushbrook) Ali (Adeel Akhtar) in ALI & AVA. Image: Dean Rogers for Avali Film Ltd

World Premiere Takes Place at Cannes

Sunday 11 July 2021

ALI & AVA is one of 24 feature films that has its world premiere at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight 2021, on Sunday 11th July. Enveloped in music and imbued with humour, ALI & AVA, starring Adeel Akhtar (Four Lions, Back To Life) and Claire Rushbrook (Secrets & Lies, Home Fires) is a compelling contemporary love story written and directed by BAFTA-nominated Clio Barnard (The Arbor, The Selfish Giant, Dark River).

Watch the first look trailer

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.

Clio Barnard, writer / director: Ali & Ava

Beautifully shot and with captivating performances, 'Ali & Ava' is a tender love story with Yorkshire at its heart. We are immensely proud that the feature film will have its debut on such a globally revered stage, and congratulate Clio and all the production team on this significant achievement.

Caroline Cooper Charles, Head of Creative, Screen Yorkshire


Both lonely for different reasons, ALI and AVA meet through their shared affection for SOFIA (6), the child of ALI’s Slovakian tenants, whom AVA teaches. ALI finds comfort in AVA’s warmth and kindness and AVA finds ALI’s complexity and humour irresistible. Over a lunar month, sparks fly and a deep connection begins to grow. However, the legacy of AVA’s past relationship and ALI’s emotional turmoil at the breakdown of his marriage begins to overshadow their newfound passion.

Writer/director Clio Barnard has established herself as one of the UK’s most distinctive cinematic voices. Her feature-length debut The Arbor, a documentary about the late Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar, received huge critical success on its release in 2010 and numerous awards. Her sophomore feature The Selfish Giant, about two 13-year-old working-class friends in Bradford seeking their fortune, launched at Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2013 and won the British Film of the Year at the London Critics Circle Film Awards along with a host of other festival awards. Her third feature, Dark River, starring Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley and Sean Bean premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival gaining a special mention from the festival jury for the Platform Prize.

ALI & AVA is produced by Clio Barnard’s long-term producer Tracy O’Riordan (Dark River, The Selfish Giant, Dream Horse) of Moonspun Films. The film is financed by BBC Films, BFI (awarding National Lottery funding) and Screen Yorkshire, with Altitude handling world sales and UK and Irish distribution. ALI & AVA was filmed on location in Bradford, supported by our filming partners Bradford Film Office.

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. ALI & AVA is a film about fear and courage, loneliness and belonging, time and love.

Producer Tracy O’Riordan


Claire Rushbrook was most recently seen in leading roles in ‘Don’t Forget The Driver’ (BBC) and ‘No Offence’ (Channel 4). Her film credits include ‘Secrets and Lies’, ‘Under The Skin’, ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ and the upcoming ‘Enola Holmes’ opposite Millie Bobby Brown. Claire was nominated for a BAFTA for her work on ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ (E4), and for an RTS Award for her work on ‘Home Fires’ (ITV). Other television credits include ‘Requiem’ (BBC), ‘Kiri’ (Channel 4), Abi Morgan’s drama ‘The Split’ (BBC), ‘Black Mirror’ (Netflix), ‘Whitechapel’ (ITV) and a key role in Emmy nominated series‘Genius: Einstein’ (National Geographic) and recently on Sky One’s ‘Temple’ opposite Mark Strong.

Adeel Akhtar has received acclaim for both his comedic roles and his dramatic performances in films including Four Lions, The Big Sick, The Dictator, Pan, Swimming With Men and Victoria and Abdul. In 2017 he won the BAFTA Leading Actor Award for his role in the BBC drama ‘Murdered by My Father’, making history for being the first non-white actor to do so. His television work also includes the role of Wilson Wilson in C4’s ‘Utopia’ for which he was BAFTA nominated for Best Supporting Actor and the BBC mini-series’ ‘Capital’ and ‘The Night Manager’. His most recent TV role is playing Billy in the critically acclaimed BBC series ‘Back to Life’ and his upcoming films include The Nest with Jude Law premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.