Top up your watchlist… 21 films about working-class Britain – British Film Institute

Featuring some of Britain’s most charismatic stars, these films get under the skin of working-class British life. They’re all available to watch with a free 14-day trial on BFI Player. How many have you seen?
28 August 2018
Director: Clio Barnard
Clio Barnard’s film about Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar mixes reconstruction, interviews (performed by actors) and scenes from the plays.
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Director: Bill Douglas
Bill Douglas’s poetic and profoundly stirring autobiographical trilogy about Jamie growing up in a Scottish mining village in 1945, ending up in a children’s home, later conscripted in the RAF and finally feeling at home.
Director: John Schlesinger
Tom Courtenay is the clerk whose overactive fantasies compensate for a dull provincial life, in this classic film from the British New Wave.
Director: Barney Platts-Mills
A fascinating record of 1960s suedehead youth culture, largely improvised by a non-professional cast of teenagers from east London.
Director: Saul Dibb
Ashley Walters impresses in this hard-hitting Hackney drama that’s still one of the best of Britain’s black urban crime films.
Director: Menelik Shabazz
Menelik Shabazz’s pioneering first feature traces the emotional and political growth of a young black couple in Thatcher’s London.
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
A darkly comic and compelling coming-of-age story set during a time of social change.
Directors: Joseph Despins and William Dumaresq
A bizarre study of obsession focusing on a teenage boy who is torn between the charms of a fleshly female prostitute and the sadism of an older man.
Director: Antonia Bird
Robert Carlyle and Ray Winstone are members of a criminal gang that tears itself apart after a heist goes wrong, in Antonia Bird’s stylish thriller.
Director: Val Guest
Punchy crime thriller with a realist streak as Stanley Baker pursues a fugitive through the streets of Manchester.
Director: Robert Hamer
Austerity noir? Ealing’s downbeat but compelling East End thriller.
Director: James Hill
Shirley Anne Field stars in this stylish, highly enjoyable story of simmering tensions and sexual conflict in the work place.
Director: Joseph Despins
The Moon over the Alley is a bizarre and compelling musical exploring the problems of multicultural Notting Hill residents in the early 1970s.
Director: Sally El Hosaini
Sally El Hosaini’s feature debut tells of the love and disenchantment of two British-Egyptian brothers. Gangs, drugs and sexuality come between them.
Director: Horace Ové
Hailed as Britain’s first black feature film, Pressure is a hard-hitting, honest document of the plight of disenchanted black youths in 1970s London.
Director: Stephen Frears
A celebration of outrageous British playwright Joe Orton’s irreverent and charismatic talent, starring Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina.
Director: Andrea Arnold
Andrea Arnold’s highly acclaimed film, winner of top prizes at Cannes and the BFI London Film Festival, is a haunting drama about a woman confronting past demons.
Director: Terence Davies
Terence Davies’ Liverpool-set trilogy explores the development of Robert Tucker’s life from victimised schoolboy, through middle age to death.
Director: Bill Forsyth
Before Gregory’s Girl, Bill Forsyth mate this equally hilarious caper about a group of unemployed teenagers who hatch a plan to steal a job lot of stainless steel sinks.
Director: Lindsay Anderson
Lindsay Anderson’s fantastic first feature masterfully dissects the brutal life struggles of a rough-edged rugby footballer on and off the field.
Director: Carine Adler
Carine Adler’s sexy and dark debut, starring Samantha Morton in her first major feature film role.
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