Opening Night Gala

Against the Law

This year’s opening film highlights a key moment in British history that led to the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Image from Against the Law

Dir Fergus O’Brien
Prod Scott James Bassett, Exec Prod Aysha Rafaele
Scr Brian Fillis
With Daniel Mays, Mark Gatiss, Charlie Creed-Miles
UK 2017
Prod Co BBC Studios

These members of the filmmaking team are expected to attend the festival:

Fergus O’Brien, Director; Scott Bassett, Producer; Brian Fillis, Screenwriter

See the full list of visiting festival guests. Please note that we can't guarantee guest attendance at any particular screening.

Peter Wildeblood may not be particularly well known today, but in the 1950s he was one of the very few out gay men in Britain – albeit not through any choice of his own. This timely and sensitive biopic is based on Wildeblood’s bestseller ‘Against the Law’. It charts his affair with a handsome serviceman he met in Piccadilly and the devastating consequences of their relationship. Wildeblood had been a celebrated and well-connected journalist on the Daily Express, with a range of acquaintances that included Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. He is played by Daniel Mays, in a beautifully nuanced performance that charts his journey from Fleet Street via public vilification to his imprisonment under the same legislation that sent Oscar Wilde to Reading Gaol. Mark Gatiss gives a chilling performance as a prison doctor charged with administering therapeutic measures to homosexuals acquiescing to the idea that they can be ‘changed’. The importance of Peter Wildeblood’s case (jointly brought against him, Lord Montagu and Michael Pitt-Rivers) is that it brought the debate about homosexuality into the public domain. It led the way to the creation of the Wolfenden Committee on sexual law reform that eventually resulted in the passing of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which changed the lives of thousands of gay men with its partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts. We are delighted to present the World Premiere of this profoundly moving portrait of what it meant to be gay in the 1950s, underlining the importance of understanding our recent history and the immense social and emotional burdens endured by generations of gay men.

Brian Robinson

Image gallery

Image from Against the Law

Image from Against the Law