06/09/2011 20:03 BST | Updated 06/11/2011 05:12 GMT

The British are Coming: The UK Takes Over the Venice Film Festival

Our summer riots may be a source of national shame. Likewise, our summer weather. But at least British films are cause for riotous celebrations and thunderous applause at the Venice Film Festival.

"If there is a national cinema represented here," claims festival director Marco Mueller," it's the UK's."

Steve McQueen - an artist working through the medium of film - managed to prise beauty out of a shit-covered prison cell in 2008's Hunger. This year he teams up again with Michael Fassbender for Shame, the study of a New Yorker trapped in his own prison - his struggle with sex addiction.

Fassbender, who grew up in Northern Ireland, strips himself naked in all senses as the emotionally disconnected Brandon. Carey Mulligan is equally bare as his needy sister - his only relationship.

McQueen can make pornography into art. There's a scene-of-the-year threesome which is both degrading and exquisite.

Only pursed lips in Hollywood can stop it from going all the way - which means Fassbender will have many more occasions to watch through his hands (the pose he was spotted during the premiere) as he displays all to enthusiastic fans.

Shame was funded by the now dead-as-a-dodo UK Film Council and gave McQueen carte blanche to make "the movie I wanted to do. Or else I wouldn't have made it."

The Council also put money into Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights which was being premiered at the festival yesterday. She doesn't do compromise either.

With the exception of Skins actress Kaya Scodolerio, she cast unknowns for the adaptation - who had never acted before.

In the most original answer ever given to the staple, "how did you get the part ?" Leeds-based James Howson deadpanned, "went down the job shop."

"It's the best opportunity I've ever been given," added 14 year old Solomon Glave, from Sheffield, to a press conference." I might cry." Which he did.

Both these films have been risky commissions which should pay off handsomely - at least in critical acclaim.

But we shouldn't waste time handwringing the demise of the Council - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a UK-French-German production directed by a Swede which nevertheless couldn't sell Britain any better had Kate Middleton been in it.

Set in dusty, brown-tweed, end-of-establishment Britain, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch star. It's an ensemble cast which leaves no room for freeloaders: "Fear of John Hurt alone meant we brought our A-game to the set," recalls Firth.

And Britain exports actors the way we wish we still exported cars. Also on the red carpet this week - Kate Winslet for Polanski's Carnage Keira Knightley for Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method and Andrea Riseborough for Madonna's W.E.

Alright, we've also made Johnny English Reborn. But with dank winter nights and dark economic news to come, the best expression of our aspirations may still be seen on screen - even if they are in the shape of Michael Fassbender's manhood.