Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double that will not only make for a great evening's viewing, but bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode landsâ€¦
PRIEST (1994) and RAVENOUS (1999)
Without a doubt these were - and remain - director Antonia Bird's biggest critical and commercial hits, and her hallmark films. And they're quite a pair: Priest, her debut feature won the double honour of a Michael Powell Award and a call for a ban from the Catholic Church. It follows a Catholic priest (Linus Roache) in 1990s Liverpool facing a loss of faith because of his sexuality (but who wouldn't fall in love with Robert Carlyle?) and a parishioner's terrible confession. Ravenous is the film The Revenant wishes it had the balls to be: a wild, bloody (funny) satire on cannibal colonialism, bear trap included. Carlyle - more Begbie than big softy here - brought Bird onto the project three weeks before shooting after the original director left, and she gets to express a ferocity and appetite for physical drama not seen since her TV drama Safe (1993).
Substitutions: If you can't get or have already seen Priest, you must watch 1993's Safe, where Aiden Gillen and Kate Hardie boil with the energy of a British Mean Streets. If you can't get or have already seen Ravenous, then switch up to 1997's Face, possibly the best of the â€˜lock, stock' bunch (Winstone, check; Davis, check), and certainly the only one a) starring Gerry Conlon, and b) where the gangster's driven by the demise of socialism.
The Hidden Gem: Has to be The Hamburg Cell (2004), the first film to grasp the nettle of understanding the 9/11 bombers, which was buried in by a nervous HBO. Bird's use of CCTV is genius, generating claustrophobia - but also a strange intimacy with the young men under surveillance. The best kind of uncomfortable and necessary viewing.