FAMILIAR faces from television and stage are set to light up the big screen at this month's Keswick Film Festival.

Staged at The Alhambra, Theatre by the Lake and Rheged, the highly rated movie extravaganza, regarded as Cumbria's own version of Sundance, runs from Thursday until Sunday, February 22-25.

A brilliant blend of award-winning films and striking documentaries, Sheila Hancock, one of the UK's most popular actresses, opens the fantastic four-day festival on February 22 in a rare big screen appearance in Edie.

The Laurence Olivier Award winning performer who was married to the late, great actor John Thaw, plays the tile role of Edie, who, released from the ties of a difficult marriage, decides at the age of 84 to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition and climb a mountain in the Highlands. Director Simon Hunter will attend the screening to introduce the film.

Also during KFF, fans of the BBC's 2017 hit drama Love, Lies and Records will see another side to Mark Stanley’s acting range in Dark River, a gritty drama set in Yorkshire. A far cry from his TV role as registrar James who becomes Jamie, Mark plays a young farmer trying to hold on to the farm tenancy after the death of his father, played by Sean Bean, who is a brooding presence throughout the film.

Regarded as one of Britain's finest ever actors, the festival features the late Sir John Hurt in his last leading movie role That Good Night.

Sir John, who died in January 2017, was the festival patron.

Shown as a tribute to the much-loved actor, That Good Night tells the story of a writer with a terminal illness who hopes to put his affairs and family in order before he passes. Playing opposite him is Charles Dance and the interaction between these two giants of the stage and screen is magnificent.

Clouds of Glory, Ken Russell’s film on Wordsworth and Coleridge, originally commissioned by Melvyn Bragg for Granada TV and thought to have been lost, is also on the KFF bill as well as Our Last Tango, the story of Argentina’s most famous tango dancers with their routines brought to life by today’s young stars. Our Last Tango will be shown on Rheged’s stunning Imax screen.

Also in the festival frame is top name Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale and Top of the Lake) star of The Square, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2016. A biting satire on the art world, The Square showcases superbly the American actor's comedic talent.

The Keswick festival's family film for this year is A Monster Calls, chosen by pupils from Keswick School. In a real festival coup, Lewis MacDougall, who stars in the film alongside Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver, heads to Keswick to introduce the film and host a Q&A afterwards.

In the film, a dark fantasy drama, Lewis - who made his film debut in 2015 as Nibs in Pan - plays a boy whose mother is dying of a terminal illness, and who begins communicating with a tree monster seemingly living outside his house.

The film will be screened at the Alhambra at 10am on festival Saturday (February 24).

Director and artist Ai Weiwei’s remarkable documentary on the global refugee crisis Human Flow, and the moving film A Fantastic Woman from Chile about a transgender woman facing prejudice after the death of her lover, also feature in KFF 2018.

Other films in the festival programme include Night of the Living Dead, regarded as the 'granddaddy' of horror films, preceded by Scared Stiff in the 60s, a talk by Patrick Glen of University College London; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Martin McDonagh’s Golden Globe winning film, starring Frances McDormand; and Woman of the Year, the first pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, shown as part of Neil Sinyard’s retrospective on director George Stevens (Shane, Giant).

Not forgetting The Ospreys, the must-see short film awards.

Festival director Ian Payne said he hoped that the chance to see the household names in quite different guises will tempt people to go to Keswick and sample the programme. He added: "For anyone who likes good plot-driven drama on TV or the cinema, these films will both entertain you and at the same time put your emotions through the wringer."

For full details of the festival programme visit www.keswickfilmfestival.org.