Fish Tank won rave reviews for the central performance by first-time actress Katie Jarvis as Mia, a troubled and occasionally malevolent teenager living on a stifling council estate with a passion (though not an aptitude) for dance and an unhealthy interest in her mother's new boyfriend. Directed by Andrea Arnold, the film has the grit and unsentimentality of Ken Loach's finest work, and in treating modern council estate life, charts a realistic path between sentimental paternalism and class-conscious sneering.
It's difficult to imagine a British film as different as Katalin Varga. Set in the Romanian parts of Transylvania, starring a local cast who speak entirely in Hungarian, the film follows the titular character (named for a 19th century labour leader) as she seeks to take vengeance on the men who raped her many years before. The film was written and directed by Peter Strickland, a Reading native, who used part of his inheritance to fund the £25,000 budget. His first fillm, Katalin Varga has a beguiling confidence, and builds a vividly defined world with remarkable performances from the central actors. The sound design alone is worth the entry fee: not surprising, given Strickland's role as a founder member of the Sonic Catering Band. It's the most improbable British film you're likely to see, and all the more interesting for it.