Ali & Ava

'Ali and Ava' in Bradford © Dean Rogers for Moonspun Films

Clio Barnard's 'Ali & Ava' Wraps in Bradford

Principal photography has wrapped on ALI & AVA, the fourth feature from writer-director CLIO BARNARD (Dark River, The Selfish Giant, The Arbor), starring ADEEL AKHTAR (Four Lions, ‘Back To Life’) and CLAIRE RUSHBROOK (Secrets & Lies, ‘Home Fires’).The film is a compelling contemporary British love story imbued with the intricacies of age, class and race.

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. Shooting recently took place on location in Bradford.

Made with investment from the Yorkshire Content Fund.

We had such a fabulous time working with Clio and Tracy on ‘Dark River’, and so were keen from the start to be involved in this film. It’s authentic to its communities just as all Clio’s films are, and a hugely moving and engaging story.

Hugo Heppell, Head of Investments at Screen Yorkshire

AVA (Claire Rushbrook)is a respected matriarch on a predominantly white Bradford estate. In her fifties and from an Irish-Catholic background, Ava is a devoted mother, grandmother and teaching assistant who fills her time looking after others and listening to country and folk music, masking the scars left by an abusive ex-husband. ALI (Adeel Akhtar) is a charismatic son, brother, boss and landlord, an avid music and book lover and moon watcher. In his mid-thirties, Ali is devoted to his family and Asian community in Bradford.

Still living with his estranged wife, he hides their separation from his family, painfully continuing the charade of marital domesticity because he still loves her. Both lonely for different reasons, Ava and Ali find each other and sparks fly fierce, despite their own fears about intimacy and expectations of their families and communities.

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.

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. Inspired by Fassbinder’s ‘Fear Eats the Soul’, 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.