Special Events (6)
Opening and Awards Night hold a special place in the Festival, as must-be-there events showcasing two honored films followed by extravagant parties. Join us in toasting the kickoff, and award winners, at the start and end of a fabulous 10 days!
Tully (Opening Night Film)
We’re elevating Opening Night like never before, with two experiences so lush, you won’t know which to pick!
Marlo (Charlize Theron) is about to explode. Already over- whelmed with her precocious young daughter and behaviorally challenged son, she’s currently negotiating the ungainly ninth month of her third pregnancy and a husband struggling to drive his career out of third-gear. As a balm for her escalating stress, Marlo’s affluent brother (Mark Duplass) gifts his sister a “night-nanny” for the new baby.
HOLY GOALIE (Awards Night Film)
Hilarious, inspirational, and just a little heretical, writer-director Curro Velázquez’s feature debut stars Spanish heartthrob Alain Hernández—last seen at our Festival in The One-Eyed King—as an unorthodox Catholic priest on a mission to save a monastery by turning a motely crew of amateurs into soccer savants.
After courting controversy during his missionary work, Father Salvador is delivered to St. Theodosius, where rules are so strict even hair gel is a sin. The monastery is in financial straits, however, and about to be sold to a hotel chain. Its only hope lies with Salvador, a former fútbolista, charged with transforming some novitiates into a team good enough to win the Clerum Championship—and its considerable cash subsidy.
Riddled with unholy hi-jinx, Velásquez has crafted a divine comedy by merrily merging two of Spain’s fundamental obsessions.
Tribute Nights (3)
CARLOS SAURA TRIBUTE +
SCREENING OF “SAURA(S)”
Carlos Saura is Spain’s greatest living director—and the filmmaker who has had more films in Miami Film Festival’s selection than any other. Saura’s films carved out a space for cinematic dissidence under Franco and would come to explore Spanish history and culture in vivacious and innovative ways, yet the master, now in his 80s, is not inclined to wax nostalgic. Instead, he’s preparing another major new film.
Filmmaker Félix Viscarret lands upon an ingenious tack to celebrate Saura and his vast legacy while he is still with us: hoping to stir up memories, Viscarret projects scenes from Saura’s films, such as The Hunt, Cria Cuervos and Carmen, and then facilitates conversations between Saura and his seven children. The result is a disarmingly intimate exchange about art, life and, above all, love: as the grand master reveals what he considers his real source of pride, you may be surprised—and moved.
Marquee Series (4)
Film screening accompanied by on-stage conversations with major film personalities of the moment, discussing their career and sharing an exciting new work.
GODARD MON AMOUR
French New Wave maestro Jean-Luc Godard is known as one of cinema’s great innovators, an enigmatic iconoclast of tremendous intellect and political conviction. Less known is Godard the man, a human being as susceptible to the vagaries of romantic love, troubled ambition and commercial success as anyone.
Set in 1967, with Paris on the cusp of social upheaval, this new film from Oscar-winning director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) captures Godard at a turning point, with his marriage to actress and collaborator Anna Karina over and a new muse, student activist Anne Wiazemsky, entering his life. Grounded in a stunning lead performance from Louis Garrel (The Dreamers), Redoubtable is a riveting warts-and-all portrait of the artist as a young man seeking to stake his radical claim anew.
THE LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS
(LAS LEYES DE LA TERMODINÁMICA)
Spanish writer-director Mateo Gil (Realive) returns to our Festival with his most inspired and entertaining creation yet, an audaciously imaginative spin on the rom-com that pits a love-struck science savant against the mid-boggling cosmicomic dictates of love and physics.
Tortured by the loss of a son he encouraged to enlist in the armed forces, a small-town church minister and ex-military chaplain Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) struggles with his faith when a pregnant woman (Amanda Seyfried) and her radical environmentalist husband come to him for counseling.
Paul Schrader is one of the finest American writers and filmmakers of the modern cinema. His achievements include writing the screenplay for “Taxi Driver” and directing “American Gigolo”. His latest feature is a fiercely intelligent thriller held together by conflicted religious fury blending exaltation and torment to excavate deep personal history and to reveal present-day anger and pain with wondrous intensity. The result is one of his most profound works in five decades. More than a look back at the past, the film is also solidly rooted in the present in ways that will surprise and perhaps even shock.
Dolphin Man tells the life story of Jacques Mayol, the greatest free-diver in recorded history, whose life became the inspiration for Luc Besson’s cult-movie Le Grand Bleu. It draws us into Mayol’s world, capturing his compelling journey from Japan to Europe, North America and India, while immersing viewers into the sensory and transformative experience of free-diving.
Mayol was the first diver to reach 100 metres below the sea and revolutionized free-diving by introducing yoga and Zen techniques. He traveled across the world, promoting an urgent vision of our need to reconnect with nature.
The film weaves together stunning contemporary underwater photography of the world’s leading free-divers with intimate testimonies of Mayol’s closest friends and family and rare film archive.
CineDwnTwn Galas (3)
Red carpet events featuring the year’s most compelling star-driven works be top-tier directors showcased at the historic Olympia Theater, presented by Downtown Development Authority of Miami.
IN LOVE & IN HATE
(Los que Aman Odian)
Elegantly adapted from Argentine literary giants Adolfo Bioy Caseres and Silvina Ocampo’s eponymous novella, In Love and in Hate whisks us away to a desolate hotel, where the windows are nailed shut, sand storms engulf the lobby, and vacationers gather to eat, drink, swim—and solve a murder.
Doctor Enrique Huberman (Guillermo Francella, star of The Secret in Their Eyes and The Clan) travels to Bosque del Mar in search of rest. Instead he finds Mary, a literary translator with whom he’s tangled in a tempestuous affair. Yet Huberman is not this femme fatale’s only paramour, and as desires flare up so does the specter of death.
Nominated for seven Argentine Oscars, In Love and in Hate, with its delicately foreboding score and opulent inter-war fashions, is equal parts Agatha Christie and Raúl Ruiz, a sumptuous, high-style whodunit.
MY LOVE OR MY PASSION
(El Futbol o Yo)
There are fans and there are fanatics—Pedro Pintos (multi-hyphenate Argentine star Adrián Suar) is, to put it mildly, in the latter category. Pedro devours everything fútbol: any team or league, any time. Which is maybe manageable for a young bachelor, but Pedro is a middle-aged husband and father, and his all-consuming passion has finally taken his job and torn apart his family. Pedro is an addict, so he does what addicts do: he joins Alcoholics Anonymous. He just neglects to mention that it’s soccer, not booze, that’s brought him there.
This clever comedy with a serious undercurrent comes from the prolific Marcos Carnevale, last at the Festival with Inseparables. Co-starring the wonderful Julieta Díaz, My Love or My Passion chronicles a war between personal goals and field goals, fleeting thrills and lasting comforts.
THE SUMMIT (La cordillera)
Nominated for 11 Argentine Oscars—including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor for superstar Ricardo Darín—the latest from Miami Film Festival favorite Santiago Mitre offers a riveting portrait of a fictional president simultaneously embroiled in a corruption scandal and forced to play international hardball on his country’s behalf.
President Hernán Blanco (Darín) is already in trouble when he arrives at a Pan-American oil summit in the Chilean Andes: his lack of high-stakes negotiating experience threatens to undo him, while his daughter’s ex-husband threatens to expose Blanco’s shadier past.
Rather than resort to simple cynicism, The Summit, with its crisp direction and brilliant performances from Darín, Dolores Fonzi (star of Mitre’s Paulina) and Christian Slater, chooses a more complex route, one focused on the flawed humanity that can conspire against the best intentions in any political arena.
Special Culinary Event (2)
Sumptuous stories foodies will love, guaranteed to pique your appetite; paired with a delicious three-course film-inspired meal, at an outstanding local restaurant.
CUBAN FOOD STORIES
Diverse cuisine is rarely counted among the cultural phenomena for which Cuba is celebrated; popular notions of Cuba as a placed defined by deprivation doesn’t help. A richly comprehensive remedy for this misperception, Cuban Food Stories visits every province in the country to sample a culinary legacy grounded in so much more than rice and beans.
Paragons of Cuba’s characteristic adaptability and creativity, the film’s subjects—which include an artist turned restauranteur and nuclear physicist turned fisherman—create mouth-watering meals with ingredients such as coconut milk, cacao, lobster and river shrimp. Until now devoid of franchises and the fraught agricultural practices that often come with a place at the global economic table, Cuba is undergoing a period of sweeping change, making the preservation of its culinary heritage a priority—and making Cuban Food Stories a must-see.
Soiree Series (4)
A memorable evening out, beginning with an inspiring and entertaining film, segueing into a fabulous party.
Incredibly funny, poignant and groundbreaking, this John Hughes-esque coming-of-age, coming out romance, based on Becky Albertalli’s best selling novel, with a screenplay written by Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger (This is Us), perfectly captures all of the foibles of the modern day teenager.
Seventeen year-old Simon’s (Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson) life is a bit complicated: he’s yet to tell his family or friends he’s gay and he doesn’t actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online. When his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight, Simon struggles to hide the truth from his group of friends, including 13 Reasons Why‘s Katherine Langford and X-Men: Apocalypse‘s Alexandra Shipp, as well as his parents. Now change-averse Simon, has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone —without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
MFF After Hours (3)
Knight Competition (7)
A mesmerizing variety of powerful works from around the world, directed by filmmakers who have directed at least one previous Official Selection (feature) of the Festival. Films are eligible for Achievement awards totaling $40,000 in cash, courtesy of Knight Foundation.
ANOTHER STORY OF THE WORLD
(Otra Historia del Mundo)
It is the 1980s, and prankish political activism is alive and well in rural Uruguay. When a new military governor is installed in the town of Mosquitos, pals Milo and Esmail protest by broadcasting discontent on the radio and purloining garden gnomes respectively. The governor retaliates against Milo with extreme prejudice, so Esmail launch a propaganda campaign that seeks justice for his buddy—and offers an alternative history of his nation.
Returning to Miami more than a decade after his excellent feature directorial debut, Guillermo Casanova (Seawards Journey) has crafted a biting satire that uses the conditions of the past to speak to the predicaments of the present, most notably the uses and abuses of fake news and the struggle to wrest control of political narratives from the powers that be.
(Las hijas de Abril)
Mexican maestro Michel Franco (After Lucia) returns to the Festival with this noirish thriller about maternal instincts in extremis.
Youthful yoga instructor April (Julieta’s Emma Suárez) reunites with her long-estranged—and very pregnant—17-year-old daughter Valeria. Charismatic, vigorous and resourceful, April seems an exceptional adjunct, but this perfect little family starts to splinter anew once Valeria’s baby enters the world and April determines to show that grandmother knows best—at any cost.
Following his characters from the idyll of Puerto Vallarta to the maze of Mexico City, Franco’s cool, unwavering gaze draws us helplessly in, while Suárez brilliantly provokes our sympathies before propelling us along a chilling trajectory right out of Greek tragedy.
THE LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS (LAS LEYES DE LA TERMODINÁMICA)
Spanish writer-director Mateo Gil (Realive) returns to our Festival with his most inspired and entertaining creation yet, an audaciously imaginative spin on the rom-com that pits a love-struck science savant against the mid-boggling cosmicomic dictates of love and physics.
Set in Barcelona, The Laws of Thermodynamics tracks the tumultuous romance between Manel and model-turned-actress Elena. Gliding seamlessly back and forth through space and time, the film takes us on a whirlwind tour of seduction and ecstasy, heartbreak and regeneration.
Featuring an (inter)stellar cast that includes Maria (and the Others) star Vito Sanz and Palm Trees in the Snow ’s Berta Vazquez, The Laws of Thermodynamics balances scenes of romantic bedazzlement with witty commentaries from science experts—though can anyone explain the gravitational pull of the object of one’s desire?
SERGIO AND SERGEI (Sergio y Sergei)
In 1992 the Soviet Union collapsed. Among those left in limbo are Havana university professor Sergio and Soviet cosmonaut Sergei. Sergio was already struggling to provide for his family when the end of the USSR—Cuba’s main financial supporter—left he and his countrymen in newly dire straits. Sergei, meanwhile, is abandoned in space when the funding to bring him back evaporates. When Sergio, who’s also a ham radio enthusiast, chances upon a channel in direct contact with the MIR space station, he and Sergei become friends—and draw the interest of the authorities.
Ernesto Daranas Serrano (Conducta) returns to Miami with this clever, crowd-pleasing comedy about connections between individuals marginalized by history and politics, one of them stuck on an island, the other stuck in orbit: on Earth as it is the heavens.
A SORT OF FAMILY
(Una especie de familia)
Upon learning that a child she plans to adopt is soon to be born, Malena (Spanish actress Barbara Lennie) travels from Buenos Aires to Argentina’s Misiones Province brimming with hope. It is only upon arrival, however, that Malena is informed of the biological mother’s demands for much more money than was agreed upon, prompting Malena to petition her estranged husband for help—inciting a legally and ethically thorny journey in which numerous small compromises are dwarfed by a deep-seated maternal impulse.
This sensitive, intelligent drama from director Diego Lerman stands poised at the intersection of biological instinct and social responsibility, raising difficult questions and sustaining our conflicted sympathies. The stakes are high for everyone in A Sort of Family, though the character with the most to lose or gain is the one who doesn’t yet have a voice.
Time Share (Tiempo Compartido)
Fresh from its triumphant Sundance debut, R.J. Mitte (Breaking Bad) and Luis Gerardo Méndez (Club of Crows) star in this ingeniously creepy comedy from Mexican writer-director Sebastián Hofmann (MFF’13’s Halley) about two men who begin to suspect that their idyllic getaway is part of a nefarious conspiracy.
Pedro and Andrés settle into their tropical resort hotel, seeking nothing more than some chill time with their respective families. But it quickly becomes evident that something is seriously amiss at this branch of the Everfields International Family, an American hospitality conglomerate. The men see something that no one else does: Everfields is secretly scheming to take their families away—and they’re not going to take this lying down.
Crafting major entertainment from a chilling premise, Hofmann follows his unlikely heroes as they embark on a valiant crusade to rescue their loved ones from a paradise built in hell.
THE WARNING (EL AVISO)
Adapted from Paul Pen’s eponymous novel by crack screenwriters Chris Sparling (Buried) and Jorge Guerricaechevarría (Cell 211), this intricate, inventive thriller pivots between points in time to chronicle a terrible curse that threatens the life of an innocent.
2008: A man is shot in a convenience store in a seemingly random act of violence. But was it random? As the victim lays in coma, his math-whiz best friend begins to decipher a history of eerily similar events occurring in the same location. 2018: a bullied boy receives an anonymous warning that should he enter that convenience store on his tenth birthday he will surely die.
With its echoes of 12 Monkeys , To Steal From a Thief director Daniel Calparsoro’s return to Miami is a bravura display of suspense, high emotion and bold revelation.
Knight Made in MIA Award (9)
Courtesy of the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, this category features a $10,000 cash prize, is open to any film – short or feature, documentary or narrative – in the Festival’s Official Selection that features a qualitatively/quantitatively substantial portion of its content (story, setting and actual filming location) in South Florida, from West Palm to the Keys, and that most universally demonstrates a common ground of pride, emotion, and faith for the South Florida community.
Carl the dreamer, with a poet deep inside, has become a very successful businessman. Sofia is bohemian, an artist who pushes boundaries and provokes thought. A ‘friend request’ is made. In one day Carl and Sofia make their case to each other and to the audience, explaining how their relationship unfolded.
LATINEGRAS: THE JOURNEY OF SELF-LOVE THROUGH AN AFROLATINA LENS
“Identity is a journey.” This first-person documentary follows Miami-based artist, scholar and filmmaker Omilani Alarcón’s on journey of self-actualization through history and heritage in both her native Puerto Rico and the continental US.
Filled with candid, lively interviews with women of both Latin American and African descent, Latinegras offers empowerment through knowledge and solidarity. Drawing inspiration from icons like Celia Cruz and Afro-Peruvian poet Victoria Santa Cruz, Alarcón examines the slow but steady evolution of latinegra representation in popular culture, while reminding us of the dark legacy of slavery and the problematic etymologies of terms like “mulatto” or “Creole.”
Latinegras is a celebration of cultural complexity and the importance self-love, prompting each of us to look deep into ourselves and discover what it is that makes beautiful.
Love In Youth
The thrall and ache of first love is piercingly invoked in Key West writer-director Quincy Perkins’ tender, resonant fiction feature debut.
Heather has left home to start college. She finds herself grappling with challenges common to any freshman: money management, self-discipline, focus… and a crippling crush. Eric is a charismatic boy with some precarious habits. He thrives on the attention of this pretty, innocent girl. As their romance deepens, Heather finds herself submitting to Eric’s penchant for petty theft, while suffering the pangs of falling for someone whose heart seems as capricious as the tides.
Few filmmakers capture youthful ardor with such immediacy. “It’s supposed to hurt,” Heather tells Eric while administering his first tattoo. “That’s love. Love hurts.” Love in Youth reminds us of that exquisite pain—and of how it changes us forever.
MAKE LOVE GREAT AGAIN
Mexican-born director Aaron Agrasanchez’s second feature is a pointed comedy about transnational lovers in a dangerous time. Set in Miami during the Trump ascendancy, Make Love Great Again pits adorable newlyweds Chris and Natalie against a pair of unduly suspicious federal agents charged with approving the verity of their marriage. Chris is American, Natalie’s a Mexican in the US on a student visa; their nuptials can grant her that coveted permanent residency—but only if their love story seems credible.
Darting between fun and tumultuous flashbacks and the unnerving weirdness of Chris and Natalie being interrogated about their intimacy, Make Love Great Again is about how sometimes you need to lie in order to tell the truth—and how, with a little luck and tenacity, love trumps all.
Knight Documentary Achievement Award (21)
Candid, thought-provoking feature-length documentaries examining social issues, diverse cultures and influential people compete for an audience-voted $10,000 cash achievement award, courtesy of Knight Foundation.
6 WEEKS TO MOTHER’S DAY
This big-hearted yet unobtrusive documentary invites us to visit Moo Baan Dek, known in English as Children’s Village. Nestled in the jungles of Kanchanaburi, Thailand, and housing 150 under-privileged children, the Village offers what by any standard is a progressive education: the students select their own fields of study and even maintain their own judiciary process to address complaints within their community.
6 Weeks to Mother’s Day follows staff and students as they go about their various activities and prepare for Mother’s Day, when they plan a special display of gratitude for Rajani Dhongchai, known to the kids as Mother Aew, who is ailing yet remains tirelessly devoted to the institution she co-founded 35 years ago. Mother Aew’s achievement is inspiring—and evidenced in the face of every child that passes through her care.
ABOVE THE DROWNING SEA
The story of a terrifyingly arduous journey that is only too resonant today, Above the Drowning Sea, narrated by Juliana Margulies, chronicles the dramatic escape of Jews from Europe on the eve of the Second World War.
As Nazism spread, Jewish refugees sought safe harbor from the coming Holocaust. No place would accept them—except the distant city of Shanghai. Still, to flee Europe required an elusive Chinese visa. Enter Ho Feng Shan, the Chinese Consul in Vienna who braved both the Gestapo and his own government so as to play a pivotal role in bringing the refugees to safety.
Above the Drowning Sea is a documentary with the sweep and stakes of a historical epic. It is at once heroic and harrowing—and a cautionary tale for our troubled times.
AMIGO SKATE, CUBA
Skateboarding is as much a passion as a leisure activity—but to skate in Cuba requires a level of ardor, we Americans know nothing about. Vanesa Wilkey-Escobar’s debut documentary tracks a transnational effort led by Miami’s own Rene Lecuor, founder of Amigo Skate, to get Cuban skaters the gear and space they need.
The journey is uphill: the only current skate-park in Havana is built on a drainage ditch and the Cuban government is reluctant to recognize skateboarding—an American invention—as a valid sport. What’s more, negotiating with government officials demands a demonstrative respect for authority that can feel antithetical to those whose credo is founded in skate culture’s outlaw mentality.
Filled with thrilling sequences of skate virtuosity, Amigo Skate, Cuba presents a fascinating case of cooperation overcoming culture clash—and a universal portrait of freedom on four little wheels.
Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of the band Imagine Dragons, had a major hit with the song “Believer.” This intimate documentary follows him as his own beliefs are tested and he takes a public stand for LGBTQ rights in the face of opposition from the Mormon Church in which he was raised.
As a straight man, Reynolds scarcely had to confront bias against the LGBTQ community. But when we married singer Aja Volkman, who wasn’t raised Mormon, his mind was opened. Her close friends, a lesbian couple, voiced their dismay over Mormons campaigning against the legalization of gay marriage. We watch Reynolds give himself an education and reach out to the gay Mormon singer Tyler Glenn of the band Neon Trees (known for the hit “Everybody Talks”). Reynolds and Glenn join forces to stage the LoveLoud music festival in Utah.
Reynolds is a compelling figure, far more self-questioning than most people, let alone rock stars. His quest in Believer is a model for people trying to bridge differences across divides of religion, sexual orientation, gender and more.
Gassan Abbas and Shlomi Eldar were both at a crossroads. Abbas was once an Israeli sit-com star, while Eldar was an Arab Affairs correspondent for the national news. Things changed: Abbas, a Palestinian, is no longer getting roles, while Eldar’s reportage is ushered to the margins of the daily news. Where does life take these men now?
Eldar’s first documentary was the impossibly moving Precious Life, which screened at the Festival in 2011. His follow-up is only stronger, wiser and more personal. Foreign Land tracks the mid-life detours of two extraordinary men, placing emphasis on their encounter with someone who lost everything to Israel’s ongoing conflict yet refuses to succumb to hate. This is an incisive and important film about taking distance to see things more clearly, and knowing when it’s time to start afresh.
THE FOREIGNER’S HOME
In 2006, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison was invited to the Louvre to guest-curate “The Foreigner’s Home,” an exhibition that assembled a dazzling array of artists to address questions of Otherness. This alternately harrowing and inspiring film fuses recordings from that history-making project with hauntingly beautiful animation, archival materials representing a troubled global history of inequity, and a new interview with Morrison, who is, as always, wise and incisive.
Executive-produced by the late Jonathan Demme, who directed the screen version of Morrison’s Beloved, and narrated by Miami-based Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, The Foreigner’s Home brings together street artists, deliciously disruptive slam poets and revered icons like Killer of Sheep director Charles Burnett to impart a greater understanding of art’s power to eliminate the social barriers that would seek to divide us by class, race, gender and creed.
GLADESMEN: THE LAST OF THE SAWGRASS COWBOYS
Buoyed by stunning natural imagery, accessible science and a colorful cast of characters, this timely documentary explores the vibrant culture of Florida’s airboaters, the men and women who have navigated the Everglades for generations—and whose way of life is on the cusp of vanishing.
With its dizzying diversity of flora and fauna, the Everglades constitute Florida’s most emblematic terrain, supplying much of our drinking water and attracting visitors from all over the world. The increasingly precarious state of the Everglades’ ecosystem has prompted the world’s largest environmental restoration project—an initiative that seeks to ban the use of private airboats. While restorationists clearly articulate the urgency of curbing the impact of airboats, members of the Airboat Association of Florida claim the ban is hypocritical. Gladesmen provides a platform for advocates on both sides of this contentious issue.
IN SEARCH OF VOODOO:
ROOTS TO HEAVEN
This directorial debut from two-time Academy Award-nominated Beninese-American actor Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) takes us on a personal journey of spiritual reclamation. Demonized by Christianity, scarred by colonialism and crudely misrepresented in Hollywood movies, we in the West know nothing about voodoo. It is time to tell the story from an African perspective.
With In Search of Voodoo, Hounsou returns to his West African birthplace to visit sacred sites, witness rituals and interview scholars, adepts and politicians, who provide an accessible survey of voodoo’s rich history and reliance on nature as a guiding force in the lives of its practitioners. Filled with majestic imagery and soul-stirring encounters,In Search of Voodoo helps to dispel decades of misconceptions—while speaking to that voice in every one of us that calls us home.
Within the walls of Swaziland’s Likhaya Lemphilo Lensha orphanage a great adventure is unfolding. Guided by South African storyteller Gcina Mhlophe, the children of Likhaya Lemphilo Lensha are collectively conceiving the story of Liyana, a heroic Swazi girl who faces harrowing obstacles on her journey to recover her stolen brothers.
Winner of the Los Angeles Film Festival’s documentary award, Liyana fuses handsomely photographed live-action footage with riveting animation, alternating between scenes of young imaginations at work and scenes that bring their story to life. Drawn from the boys’ personal experiences with abuse, abandonment, robbery and rape, Liyana’s journey is ferociously fraught. Yet it’s also inspiring: for every terror overcome Liyana grows stronger, propelling her to find safety and forge a whole new family.
LOTS OF KIDS, A MONKEY
AND A CASTLE
Drawing upon material compiled over many years, prolific Spanish actor Gustavo Salmerón’s feature directorial debut is a winsome, freewheeling family portrait. The fundamental dynamics of the Salmerón clan will resonate, while their eccentricities — most especially those of its larger-than-life matriarch Julita — will astonish and delight.
As a newlywed, Julita made three wishes: she wanted lots of kids, a monkey, and a castle. Julita got them all. The six children arrived in quick succession, the monkey was acquired from an advertisement, and the castle was purchased with a windfall inheritance. That castle, over time, comes to house an unruly labyrinth of bizarre bric-a-brac. Despite her children’s pleas, Julita refuses to part with any of it — until dwindling finances force the Salmeróns to move to a more modest abode.
Basking in Julita’s inexhaustible playfulness, Salmerón has created a boisterous, hilarious, profoundly affectionate film that penetrates the core of what it means to hold on to a sense of wonder.
LOVE MEANS ZERO
Nick Bollettieri ran America’s most famous tennis academy near Tampa, Florida, producing multiple champions — including several who would become fierce rivals. Was Bollettieri a genius or a tyrant, a father figure or a huckster? There are no simple answers.
Filmmmaker Jason Kohn, a protégé of Errol Morris, delivers a complex and humorous exploration of the highs and lows of Bollettieri’s epic career. Built into the narrative of Love Means Zero are several of the gripping tennis matches that proved to be key turning points when Bollettieri’s loyalties shifted between his pupils. Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, and Boris Becker figure prominently in this tale. We also hear from former students-turned-champions Kathleen Horvath and Carling Bassett.
Bollettieri, now in his eighties, is notoriously unsentimental. But Kohn has a good-natured way of probing deeper to unwind this tale of ego, money, and competition to find the human core. This film is a grand slam winner.
The MUSIC OF THE SPHERES
(La música de las esferas)
Cuban artist and filmmaker Marcel Beltrán’s eloquent nonfiction feature pays homage to his parents’ enduring love while pondering his country’s turbulent history.
Beltrán’s father Mauricio and mother Regina met in the 1980s. Equally committed to socialist ideals, they started a life together, even though Regina’s father rejected Mauricio on account of his race. Beltrán draws out what was sacrificed as his parents forged into the austerity of the 1990s, simultaneously confronting the fraught politics of family and nation both.
Visiting old friends and old haunts, The Music of the Spheres functions as a travelogue of the past, one steeped in the hues and sounds of memory: the patter of rain; love-letters; painterly images; moments of silence, as though what matters is not what can be uttered but, rather, those things that can only be felt.
A celebration of cultural confluences on and off the court, Nuyorican Básquet chronicles the dramatic story of the Puerto Rican national basketball team’s participation in the 1979 Pan American Games.
Boasting a totally unique approach to the game, the Puerto Rican team had the curious distinction of being composed largely of players born in New York City, which generated questions about the nature of diasporic identity. Regardless of their birthplace, these ferociously talented nuyoricans became a source of fascination and pride for Puerto Rico during a time of high political tensions.
Shifting energetically between new interviews with athletes and experts and fantastic archival materials showing off the team’s dazzling technique and teamwork, Nuyorican Básquet is a thrilling, colorful testament to the ability of sports to dissolve boundaries and a loving homage to that magical Puerto Rico-NYC alchemy.
“Operation Odessa” was the code name for a federal task force investigating Russian gangsters in Miami. This film gains candid interviews with key figures on both sides of the operation to tell an outrageous true crime story. It’s loaded with colorful characters and absurd details that evoke the novels of Elmore Leonard or Carl Hiassen.
At the center of the tale is the Jewish Ukranian mobster Ludwig Fainberg, known as “Tarzan.” He was a linchpin between Russian and Colombian mobsters, from his position as the proprietor of Porky’s strip club in Hialeah and Babushka restaurant in North Miami. He teamed with Juan Almeida, a high end car and boat dealer, who specialized in speedboats for drug runners, operating out of the Fort Apache Marina. Filmmaker Tiller Russell skillfully combines their interviews with FBI surveillance recordings to revisit an era of sting operations, gangland betrayals and outlandish stunts culminating in the attempt to buy a Soviet submarine for a Colombian drug cartel. “Operation Odessa” hits the jackpot of crazy South Florida stories.
OUR NEW PRESIDENT
Composed entirely of found materials, this jaw-dropping documentary from Maxim Pozdorovkin—co-director of MFF ’15 selection The Notorious Mr. Bout—tracks the 2016 US election through the lens of Russian mainstream news, which is to say, Russian propaganda.
Apocalyptic prophecies, racist analyses of Obama’s posture, suggestions that Hilary Clinton was cursed by a mummy, has dementia and oversees a secret pedophile ring: the fake news is piled as high as Ostankino Tower, which broadcasts all the major Russian networks. Pozdorovkin sets the tone through astonishing footage of media czar Dmitry Kiselyov informing his team that the time of unbiased reportage is over and, from now on, “editorial policy will be based on our love of Russia.”
Fascinating, alarming and bleakly hilarious, Our New President is a vital report from the frontlines of today’s information wars.
The Oldies (Los Viejos)
What is old age? What are all these years? These questions, posed by a charismatic elderly vocalist named Zaida, permeate Rosana Matecki’s poetic, compassionate and wise new documentary.
The Oldies follows Santa Clara, Cuba residents Zaida, Bringuez and Cándido as they struggle to stay passionately engaged in life and art at an age when simple tasks can be challenging. The film brims with warmth and intimacy: Zaida singing while cooking, Bringuez playing “Summertime” on the saxophone, Cándido examining his collection of antique photographs.
Zaida explains that she has been performing for 58 years, yet every time feels like the first time, “because to truly sing you have to surrender yourself.” Surrender to The Oldies and you will discover what it means to greet every day, every year, every passage of life, with curiosity and grace.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is only the second woman every appointed to the Supreme Court. As she turns 85 this year, she remains a key liberal voice on the court. In recent years, she’s written strongly worded dissenting opinions on conservative-leaning decisions. She’s been embraced by a younger generation of feminists who dubbed her The Notorious R.B.G.
In the documentary RBG, filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West gain close access to Ginsburg, even covering her workout routine. Ginsburg and her close associates trace her history as a pioneering woman lawyer who fought important sex discrimination cases for the ACLU in front of the Supreme Court before she joined the bench herself.
At the heart of the film is a moving love story between Ruth and her husband Martin Ginsburg. They met at university. Martin was far ahead of his time in supporting his wife’s career. This film feels perfectly timed for today’s renewed battle for gender equity.
THE REST I MAKE UP
One of America’s greatest playwrights, Maria Irene Fornes was born in Havana, moved to the US in her teens, and rose to prominence in the 1960s Off-off Broadway scene with her wildly innovative, endlessly playful approach to language and form. She has won nine OBIEs, been nominated for a Pulitzer and transformed countless lives as an educator. Fornes was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 20 years ago, but, as this alluringly intimate documentary reveals, she retains her charisma and wonder.
Featuring glowing testaments by the likes of John Guare, Paula Vogel and Lanford Wilson, The Rest I Make Up tracks director Michelle Memran’s journey of meeting Fornes in New York, escorting her on a visit to Cuba, following her relocation to Miami, and listening to her reminiscence about past loves, such as Susan Sontag. This is a story of dizzying artistic heights, enduring grace, and unexpected friendship.
Three Identical Strangers
In 1980, their story was a news sensation. Triplets Eddy, Bobby and David had been separated at six months old and adopted by different families. They grew up within 100 miles of each other around New York City, but never knew of each other’s existence. They only met by accident in their college years and then enjoyed a period of brief fame. Madonna cast them in a movie. They opened a SoHo restaurant called Triplets. But that’s only where this story begins.
Filmmaker Tim Wardle teams with the producers of The Imposter (that won Miami’s 2012 Documentary Award) to uncover fascinating twists and turns in the triplets’ story. They grew up in differing economic circumstances – one affluent, one middle class, one blue collar – that raises questions about what’s the greatest influence on a person – nurture or nature? Three Identical Strangers was among the most talked about documentaries at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
WHEN THE BEAT DROPS
Helmed by world-class director-choreographer Jamal Sims, When the Beat Drops immerses viewers in the growing culture of bucking—and if you’re unfamiliar with this hyper-athletic, wildly creative dance phenomenon, prepare to be electrified.
Atlanta has recently become an LGBTQ haven, but when Anthony was growing up there as a heavy-set, gay black kid with a love of dance, the Gate City was a harsh place. Nevertheless, talent and tenacity prevailed, and Anthony spearheaded a buck sensation, launching flash buck performances in clubs. Anthony’s crew, comprised largely of other gay African-American men, grew into a family and, eventually, a national movement incorporating fierce competitions and becoming a force of education and affirmation.
There are bumps on the road—like a small-town Alabama Christmas parade that outraged spectators—but the story Sims so deftly tracks is ultimately one of triumph, artistry and togetherness.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) has a gift for illuminating underappreciated figures in popular culture. His new film focuses on Fred Rogers, the minister turned television host, who stressed values of love and acceptance.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? will delight and surprise anyone who grew up on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Neville uncovers extensive behind the scenes footage dating back to the show’s nationwide debut in 1968 through Rogers death in 2003. Neville interviews key figures from the series including the black actor Francois Clemmons who kept his homosexuality hidden at a great personal cost. The film examines how Rogers took on topics of racism, homophobia, and disabilities. Over the years, he was spoofed by Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live and attacked by Fox News for his message that “everyone is special.”
Ultimately, the film asks: what is the legacy of Mister Rogers for our current times?
HBO Ibero American Competition (16)
Open to Ibero-American films in the Official Selection, competing for a jury-selected cash Achievement Award of $10,000, courtesy of HBO.
Five years after his film about author Florbela Espanca, Portuguese writer-director Vicente Alves do Ô returns to literary portraiture with this transfixing depiction of the poet Al Berto as a young man navigating a time of sweeping transition for his country.
It is 1975, and Al Berto has returned to his hometown of Sines after studying aborad. Squatting in the mansion taken from his family during the revolution, Al Berto and his friends begin cultivating a bohemian scene in Sines, one rife with flamboyant displays of artistic and sexual freedoms—and stoking the ire of local conservatives.
Based on the journals of Alves do Ô’s own late brother João Maria, a friend and lover of the legendary poet, Al Berto evokes its period in exquisite detail and pays tribute to the boldness of youth in the face of oppressive reactionary forces.
As Cotopaxi spews ash, issuing an eerie penumbra over Quito and threatening to erupt, a young woman confronts dormant familial conflicts in Ecuadorian writer-director Juan Sebastián Jacome’s poignant new drama.
Desperate for a place to store her things as volcanic disaster looms, Caridad turns to her long-estranged Galo father for help. Galo abandoned Caridad’s mother long ago and is eager to make amends, but questions concerning the nature of his transgressions linger, straining communication between father and daughter and casting grave doubts over the possibility of reconciliation.
Alternating between the stunning spectacle of Cotopaxi and the uneasy intimacy of Caridad and Galo’s reunion, Ashes deftly balances the grandiose and the personal, juxtaposing events beyond our control with matters that can only be resolved by having the courage to break the silence and reach out.
BINGO: THE KING OF THE MORNINGS
Bingo the clown is the wacky, loveable host of a hugely popular Brazilian television show, bringing laughter and joy to millions of children. Under the make-up and colorful costume, however, Bingo is Augusto Mendes, a man possessed by inner demons and an insatiable appetite for narcotics and sex.
A wild-ride of fiction based on the life of Arlindo Barreto, the Brazilian actor who was “Bozo The Clown”, Oscar-nominated editor Daniel Rezende’s feature directorial debut explores the outlandish discrepancies between Mendes’ public and private personas. Grounded in an electrifying lead performance from Vladimir Brichta, Bingo: The King of the Mornings is a shocking, endlessly fascinating whirl through the entertainment industry’s hedonistic excesses, and a richly detailed portrait of ambition, desperation and decadence.
A tender, playful look at the intimate lives of the elderly, this third feature from Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza finds the director looking both abroad and backward in time for inspiration. Set in Havana in 1994, Candelaria concerns a septuagenarian couple whose wearying routine is alleviated by the unexpected appearance of a novel piece of technology.
Victor Hugo works in a cigar factory; Candelaria is a hotel laundress and singer. When Candelaria comes upon an abandoned camcorder she and Victor Hugo start to discover its possibilities for posterity, expression—and the revival of romance. The camera’s lens becomes an extension of Victor Hugo’s eye, allowing him to really see his wife for the first time in years—at least until the camcorder is stolen, an event which leads the couple into territory neither could have imagined.
Roiling with grief, shot-through with a piercing vision, the latest from Dominican filmmaker Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias has already scooped numerous accolades on its way to becoming one of the new Dominican cinema’s definitive statements.
Following a Santo Domingo gardener as he journeys to his home village to pay his respects to—and possibly avenge—his murdered father, Cocote is a story of competing convictions: religious beliefs, familial loyalties and the drive toward upward mobility in a corrupt society clash in scenes of furious confrontation and ecstatic worship. The arresting camerawork alternates between lyricism and starkness, shadow and light, while the seemingly simple story yields an expansive portrait of class disparity and rough justice. Electrifying, dynamic and restlessly inventive, Cocote represents the vanguard of Latin American cinema in 2018.
THE ETERNAL FEMININE (Los adioses)
Some four decades after her untimely demise, Rosario Castellanos remains one of Mexico’s most important literary figures. The author of numerous volumes of poetry and essays and a trio of beloved semi-autobiographical novels, Castellanos, a member of the legendary Generation of 1950, was not only a prolific author but also a pioneer: in a stringently male-dominated literary scene, she provided an insistent female voice.
This evocative bio-pic from director Natalia Beristáin (She Doesn’t Want to Sleep Alone) focuses on a pair of pivotal moments in Castellanos’ life: her time as an introverted university student looking for route to belonging and her tempestuous relationship with philosopher Ricardo Guerra.
Featuring engrossing performances from veteran actors Karina Gidi, Daniel Giménez Cacho and After Lucia’s Tessa Ia, The Eternal Feminine apprehends the essence of a woman whose life and work continue to fascinate and inspire.
The FUTURE AHEAD
(El futuro que viene)
The virtues and vagaries of long-term friendship are explored with affection and knowingness in Argentine writer-director Constanza Novick’s winsome debut. Tracing their relationship from early adolescence through adulthood, The Future Ahead offers equally resonant portraits of Florencia (Pilar Gamboa) and Romina (Dolores Fonzi, also seen at the Festival in Wind Traces), women whose fierce bond ensures that their lives continue to intersect—even when jealousy threatens to push them apart.
Produced by New Argentine Cinema icon Lisandro Alonso (last at the Festival in 2009 with Liverpool), The Future Ahead points to a bright future for Novick, whose sensitivity to the myriad ways that love, work, ambition and motherhood can both complicate and fortify a friendship suggests a filmmaker with a surfeit of rich stories waiting to be told.
(Temporada de Caza)
Following his mother’s death, troubled teenager Nahuel (Lautaro Bettoni) spins his grief into acts of fiery aggression—acts that force him to swap his Buenos Aires home for the desolate Patagonian farm belonging to his father Ernesto (German Palacios) and his new family. The situation makes for chilly tensions that only time—and a willingness to truly connect—can thaw.
Winner of the Venice Critics’ Week Audience Award, Natalia Garagiola’s feature debut exudes emotional intelligence, particularly with regards to prickly masculine codes. The film benefits enormously from Garagiola’s close attention to her actors: Bettoni’s Nahuel roils with the inner torment of adolescence, while Palacios movingly uncovers the vulnerability underneath Ernesto’s taciturn comportment. Hunting Season may have a gruff exterior, but it’ll hit you in the heart.
KILLING JESUS (Matar a Jesus)
This spookily confident, semi-autobiographical feature debut of Colombian director and co-scenarist Laura Mora is a tense, absorbing drama that probes the troubled nature of grief, the ethics of revenge and the limits of empathy.
Set in Mora’s hometown of Medellín, the story is thrust into motion on a wave of pure trauma: 22-year-old Paula witnesses her father being shot to death in front of their home. Paula initially tries to stifle her sorrow with distractions, but an unexpected encounter with her father’s killer sets Paula on a course of retribution—one she may not be able to abscond from.
Killing Jesus complicates simplistic distinctions between victim and perpetrator, calling into question the way we process crime and punishment in a society teeming with corruption.
THE LAST SUIT (El último traje)
At 88, Abraham Bursztein is seeing his place in the world rapidly disappear. His kids have sold his Buenos Aires residence, set him up in a retirement home and are even trying to convince him to amputate his disabled limb. But Abraham survived the Holocaust, made a successful life in a foreign land, and isn’t about to quietly fade away. Instead, he’s planned a one-way trip to the other side of the world.
Writer-director Pablo Solarz renders Abraham’s odyssey as much a journey through the past as a geographical one. With its klezmer-driven score, evocative cinematography and fleet pacing, The Last Suit approaches its weighty themes with a light reverence, showing how any trip truly worth taking is a trip that will change us—no matter how far along we are in life’s journey.
Twelve-year-old Pedro roams the streets with his friends, raised by the violent urban atmosphere around him in a working class district of Caracas.
After Pedro seriously injures another boy in a rough game of play, single father Andrés decides they must flee to hide.
Andrés will realize he is a father incapable of controlling his own teenage son, but their situation will bring them closer than they have ever been.
ON THE SEVENTH DAY (En el séptimo día)
A smart, big-hearted portrait of migrant life anchored by Fernando Cardona’s beautifully contained lead performance, On the Seventh Day follows José, a hardworking undocumented deliveryman who plays soccer every Sunday with his fellow Mexicans in Sunset Park. When his boss insists he work on the day of a pivotal play-off, José finds himself torn between staying true to his buddies and securing a stable life for his wife and soon-to-be-born child.
Though set in Brooklyn, McKay’s latest is, in a sense, a border drama—one that understands the plurality of borders migrants face as they struggle to forge roots in a new country. José’s dilemma may sound slight, but it speaks to larger issues about what it means to be a good family man, a good friend and a good American.
THE RIVER (El río)
Flowing with intrigue, beauty and brutality, Bolivian writer-director Juan Pablo Richter’s feature debut transports us to a seemingly placid rural locale where a teenage boy gets pulled into dangerous waters.
Sebastián leaves a fraught situation in the city to live with his long-estranged father Raphael, who resides on a ranch adjacent to a jungle-lined river. Sebastián is a scrapper, and Raphael seeks to channel those unruly energies through activities like hunting. But as life in this pastoral setting begins to reveal its true nature, Sebastían finds himself struggling against a current of corruption, humiliation and violence in which women are currency.
Eschewing stylistic pyrotechnics in favor of eerily mounting tensions, Richter proves himself a keen observer of toxic masculine codes and the bracing velocity with which innocence can suddenly be washed away.
THE SKIN OF THE WOLF
(Bajo la piel de lobo)
Shifting seamlessly from a study in solitude to a love story grounded in sabotage, writer-director Samu Fuentes’ spellbinding debut speaks volumes with an invigorating paucity of words.
Set in the pre-industrial past, The Skin of the Wolf centers on Martinón, the sole inhabitant of an otherwise abandoned alpine hamlet. Martinón comes down the mountain but twice a year to sell animal hides and stock up on supplies. One day he’s convinced to take a wife, a decision intended to soften his calloused soul—but in some ways his real struggle is only just beginning.
Featuring gorgeous widescreen photography and transfixing performances from Ruth Diaz, Irene Escolar and Spanish box-office megastar Mario Casas, Skin is an eerily resonant variation on Beauty and the Beast, blending wilderness survival tale and fable to create something strikingly unique.
Alluring, mysterious and brimming with lush atmospherics, Tigre—co-winner of our 2017 Knight Encuentros post-production award—transports us to the swampy labyrinth of Argentina’s Parana Delta, where friends Rina and Elena connect, rendezvous with their children and strategize ways to keep developers from invading their remote island refuge.
A work of poetic concision, with its emphases placed firmly on complex relationships and an evocative sense of place, Tigre is an all-too-rare examination of the desires and insecurities of women “of a certain age” navigating their roles as mothers, lovers and landowners. With its sultry setting inevitably recalling Lucrecia Martel’s La cienaga, Silvina Schnicer and Ulises Porra Guardiola’s feature debut can be regarded as a contribution to Argentina’s growing body of regional cinema, but by the end of Tigre we’re left with no doubt that we have experienced something truly fresh and strikingly original.
WIND TRACES (RESTOS DE VIENTO)
Mexican writer-director Jimena Montemayor Loyo’s hauntingly atmospheric second feature stars the formidable Dolores Fonzi (also seen at the Festival in The Summit and The Future Ahead) as the matriarch of a family working through a torrent of grief and addiction.
In the wake of husband’s death, Carmen finds herself succumbing to alcohol and its promise of oblivion. Unable to either process her own grief or help her children through theirs, she tells her son and daughter that their father will return—an illusion heightened by the appearances of a strange creature.
Wind Traces wends through a labyrinth of magic and loss, handling overwhelming emotion with delicacy and intelligence and displaying an acute understanding of the sometimes spectral nature of childhood trauma.
Jordan Ressler Screenwriting Competition (13)
Screenwriters from all feature films in the Festival that have a first-produced feature screenwriter credited, compete for a jury-selected cash prize of $10,000, courtesy of the family of the late Jordan Alexander Ressler.
Actor-director Cory Bowles (Trailer Park Boys) takes on police brutality and racial profiling with a stark satirical edge in his debut feature, Black Cop. Timely, to be sure, but Bowles also brings a new slant to these realities by framing the film through the eyes of a police officer known only as Black Cop (emerging talent Ronnie Rowe Jr. excels in this complex role).
Held by some as a race traitor for joining the police while still facing racism in his daily life, Black Cop finally has enough of the violence he’s forced to endure because of the color of his skin. Bowles satirical genius lies in Black Cop’s next move: he begins to police the white people of his town the way the Black residents are.
Combining a mix of real and staged protest footage, direct address monologues and verité style encounters with the police, Black Cop confronts injustice head on—and asks its audience to do the same.
Something sinister is brewing in the small island town of Jersey. Four young girls have been brutally murdered, and the killer is still roaming free. And then there’s Moll. With a history of mental illness and a mother that keeps her on a tight leash, she’s starting to crack under the strain of it all. Suddenly, a newfound liberation comes in the form of Pascal. Quiet, brooding, and a little dangerous, Moll instantly gets swept up in a passionate romance with the outsider, who happens to be a prime suspect for the murders.
Part forbidden romance, part murder mystery, and part psychological thriller, Beast is a wild ride that constantly subverts your expectations. Featuring an intense breakout performance from Jessie Buckley as the troubled Moll, first time writer-director Michael Pearce has crafted a visceral and utterly captivating picture about the darkness we bury deep inside us – and what happens when it begins to claw its way out.
On July 18, 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy was driving around Chappaquiddick Island when he accidentally drove his car off a bridge, resulting in the death of 28-year-old campaign aide Mary Jo Kopechne. It was a tragedy that quickly morphed into a scandal when a team of spin doctors went to work to protect the Kennedy brand, at the expense of the truth.
Handled with great restraint and insight, director John Curran paints a vivid picture of the Chappaquiddick Incident, following every moment and decision that led to Kennedy not reporting the accident for 10 straight hours. Powered by a quietly arresting performance from Jason Clarke, Chappaquiddick is not only a fascinating piece of history, but an astute character study of a deeply flawed political figure who carried the burden of a dynasty on his shoulders.
It takes a particularly skilled filmmaker to realize that moving slowly and deliberately can often be more thrilling than the alternative. First time feature director Xavier Legrand, who won the prestigious Best Director award at the 2017 Venice Film Festival, is such a filmmaker. In Custody, he takes a bare bones plot about something as seemingly simple as a family custody battle and turns it into riveting, edge-of-your-seat cinema that will have your heart beating out of your chest.
Miriam and Antoine are ending their marriage. Miriam claims that her former husband is abusive, and that her son doesn’t want to see him. Antoine dismisses these claims, as he appears calm and collected before the judge. Then it happens: the two are granted joint custody. What follows is an extraordinary slow-burn dissection of domestic abuse; a window into a man with two faces, and those that have to endure both sides.
From Where We’ve Fallen
An ensemble drama as exquisitely crafted as a precious jewel, this debut feature from Chinese director Wang Feifei draws together several characters at a seaside resort, each of them searching for something yet struggling to connect.
Sanqing is in love with her tutor, Sun, and hopes their escape will fortify the relationship. Sun, meanwhile, drops hints that he wants to break it off but finds he can’t let go once Sanqing begins stoking his jealousy with the mysterious Wang, who seems haunted by the recent suicide of an acquaintance.
With its echoes an Antonioni, From Where We’ve Fallen moves between arresting images—a woman standing in a rising tide, a pair of crystal high heels, an lonely hotel hallway in the wee hours—to unravel a tantalizingly tangled narrative of dreams, desperation and desire.
Summer, 1976. A bourgeois German family gathers to mark the passing of their elderly matriarch. At their countryside home, the days are meant to unfold with quiet leisure. But, like the hazy heat that suggests an inevitable storm, conflicts between the family members can’t be contained.
In this multi-generational milieu—the devoted but pensively sad older Ilse; the middle-aged couple Bernd and Eva; single mother Gitti who has kept her sensuality; the frolicking but also ever-observing kids, Jana and Inge—writer-director Sonja Maria Kröner’s camera seamless shifts between points of view. Laden with an inescapable sense of melancholia, in The Garden Kröner leaves, as her characters do, much of the drama unspoken and lingering in the air.
HEAVEN WITHOUT PEOPLE
It’s Easter in Beirut and, as many matriarchs do on this holiday, Josephine has gathered her family to celebrate. It’s no small feat given the sprawling nature of her family, many of whom haven’t shared a meal together in years. While the lunch gets off to a joyfully ruckus start, bit-by-bit the façade of the happy family gathering begins to fall away. The result is an astute meditation on the complexities of human nature and a slice-of-life portrait of Lebanese society.
A renowned theatre director and social activist in Lebanon, Lucien Bourjeily’s feature debut builds on his desire to dig into taboo topics to forge space for discourse—even if, as we see in Heaven Without People, that can come at a great cost.
IZZY GETS THE F*CK ACROSS TOWN
Izzy is the textbook definition of a mess. She wakes up hungover from a one-night stand, puts on her stained clothes from the night before and plans to start yet another aimless day. That is, until she finds out that her ex is getting ready to celebrate his engagement to her former best friend. Izzy has to make it to the other side of town to break them up, and nothing will stand in her way.
Further proving that she’s one of the most promising new actresses working today, Mackenzie Davis plays Izzy with a manic energy that that is utterly electrifying. Featuring a killer supporting cast made up of Carrie Coon, Haley Joel Osment, and Alia Shawkat, Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town is a chaos-filled ride through Los Angeles, one that introduces a bold new voice in indie cinema.
Miami’s own Blake Jenner is the star, scenarist and co-producer of this absorbing drama about a disenfranchised young man’s struggle to balance the temptations of crime with his ambitions for a better future. Billy Forsetti (Jenner) came of age with a dearth of prospects and an abundance of angst. His friends introduce him to the fast thrills and easy money of carjacking, while a budding romance plants in Billy’s mind the possibility of a different life, one grounded in love, faith and legit work.
Sensitively directed by Jenner’s Glee cohort Bradley Buecker, Juvenile is a tale of youth in peril and a society that can’t afford to let its citizens slip between the cracks.
Mary Goes Round
Like Anne Hathaway’s character in Rachel Getting Married, the heroine of Mary Goes Round has found herself at a crossroads: after a particularly brutal binge that lands her with a DUI–and on YouTube–her boyfriend calls it quits. Mary (Aya Cash deftly inhabits this complex character) also loses her job as (ironically) a substance abuse councilor. With no where to go, Mary returns to her hometown of Niagara Falls, Ontario, forcing her to face her estranged father.
Loosely based on events from writer-director Molly McGlynn’s own life, Mary Goes Round doesn’t shy away from diving into the difficult questions around addiction, family and the wounds we try to hide—all with comic flourishes. Far from reveling in tragedy, McGlynn finds tenderness and humor in life’s darkest moments, suggesting there’s a way forward if we have the courage to face past and begin to heal.
Set in his hometown of Ordos, Inner Mongolia, writer-director Zhou Ziyang’s debut is a tough-minded tale of a family warring against a patriarch whose corruption is symptomatic of larger societal ailments.
Eager to feed his gambling addiction, spoil his mistress and play the poo-bah, Lao Yang steals the funds his children raised for his wife’s surgery. Everyone has been struggling in the years since Ordos invested in an ostensibly prosperous modernization project, and Lao’s ruthless transgression sets off a dispute that threatens to tear the already stressed-out family apart.
Drawing upon compellingly complex performances and strikingly emblematic images, Zhou is so good at balancing the intimate with the social in this story that feels as akin to great midcentury American drama as to the mounting troubles of modern China.
Diving into the mind of a tortured writer may not be new terrain, but rarely is the subject matter taken through the lens of a middle-aged housewife—and rarely is this type of narrative spun with such audacious, gripping intensity. Ana Urushadze’s astoundingly assured feature debut centers on a Georgian author, who also happens to be a mother, Manana (played with an unforgettable intensity by Nata Murvanidze). In the process of writing her novel, she has grown distant from her family and is eventually forced to choose between them and her work. She decides to pursue the world she’s woven in her head, but soon finds that fact and fiction are increasingly difficult to distinguish.
At times eerily surrealist and at others darkly comic, Scary Mother is a haunting and subversive portrait of contained creativity trying to break free—and the consequences of what happens when it does.
Sometimes nothing can seem more alien than life on Earth—especially if we’re talking about life in the Earth. Icelandic visual artist and filmmaker Hlynur Pálmason’s beguiling Winter Brothers follows Emil and Johan, two brothers whose work takes them deep into a Danish limestone mine, a locale rendered as weird and wondrous as a fairy-tale netherworld. Life aboveground, meanwhile, features more familiar conflicts: Emil’s toxic homebrew may have made a co-worker fatally ill, while Johan’s decision to sleep with the object of Emil’s long-brewing desire sparks a fraternal fracas.
Pálmason’s winter wonderland is by turns eerie and odd, beautiful and forbidding, and from start to finish utterly captivating. In short, Winter Brothers is one of the most uniquely imaginative feature debuts in recent memory and well worth burrowing into.
Zeno Mountain Award (7)
The universal distinction of the three features and four short films that make up this year’s Zeno Mountain Award candidates is that they are all illuminating, wonderful films. And all of them showcase unique characters who surprise and delight us with their zest for life.
Chandler is an emerging porn star trying to make it big in Toronto. Meaghan is a socially attuned empath and aspiring actor making experimental art films in LA. They both happen to have cerebral palsy, and are sick of society’s normative standards of beauty getting in the way of their dreams. A raw, intimate portrait of two people’s distinct journeys on their first attempts to shift the social perceptions of sexuality and disability.
Cinema 360º (15)
A vibrant and dynamic selection of narrative works, from both accomplished and emerging filmmakers around the world, includes an international selection of dramas, comedies, suspense thrillers, and innovative docudramas.
Based on scenarist and star Osamah Sami’s memoir Good Muslim Boy, this delightful rom-com from Down Under is at once heartwarming and hilarious, rousing and irreverent.
The film follows the misadventures of Ali (Sami), the son of a beloved local cleric, as he tells one whopper of a lie, tries to wriggle free from an arranged marriage, falls in love, stars in a theatrical comedy about Saddam Hussein, pretends he’s going to medical school, stains his family’s name and, in a memorable moment of amorous desperation, teaches himself to operate a tractor. Set within Melbourne’s Muslim community, Ali’s Wedding is a relentlessly diverting exploration of what can happen when the imperative to uphold tradition clashes with the dictates of the heart.
Isabelle Huppert and Kim Minhee explore the quieter side of the Cannes Film Festival in Hong Sangsoo’s lovable wisp of a character study. Huppert’s comic vein is not tapped often enough, and here she’s relaxed and ironic as the faux-naive tourist. In a cafe, she sociably (and quite funnily) introduces herself, “It’s my first time in Cannes,” she says since we all know she has won two best actress awards at the Festival.
From The Red Shoes to Black Swan, ballet has inspired some of cinema’s most sumptuous dramas about the confluence of art, ambition and discipline. With Darling, Danish director Birgitte Stærmose has delivered a juicy, suspenseful and arresting contribution to this lineage.
Following a victorious tenure abroad, Darling’s titular prima ballerina returns to Copenhagen to headline a production of Giselle. Her homecoming promises to be less than graceful, however, as sundry secrets loom over the rehearsals, such as a career-threatening ailment or the Royal Danish Ballet director’s past liaisons with Darling—something Darling would not want Frans, her husband and Giselle’s choreographer, to discover.
Working from Kim Fupz Aakeson’s crackerjack story, Stærmose stages both punishing physical exertion and psychological distress with equal panache, keeping us on point right up to the final curtain call.
The Death of Stalin
“VEEP” goes to the Soviet Union in Armando Iannucci’s biting send-up of the Soviet dictator and his band of scheming sycophant ministers who vie for power after his demise in 1953.
Hilarious plotting, clumsy jostling for power and idiotic hijinks follow the supreme leaders death. All of the top lackeys have been suddenly turned into a bunch of scared and malicious children — milquetoast Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), wiseguy Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), bewildered Molotov (Michael Palin), thuggish Zhukov (Jason Isaacs), and depraved Beria (Simon Russell Beale), with Stalin’s drunken son Vasily (Rupert Friend) and jaded daughter Svetlana (Andrea Riseborough) off to the side.
The Death Of Stalin is superbly cast, and acted with icy and ruthless force by an impeccable ensemble tour-de-force. In the hands of one of the funniest and most distinctive political satirists of our time, it is not hard to see comparisons to events unfolding in a different capital today.
GRACE AND SPLENDOR
(DONAIRE Y ESPLENDOR)
A joyously irreverent rom-com that plunges us headlong into the collective madness of Carnaval, this second feature from Panamanian writer-director Arturo Montenegro (The Cheque) might be thought of as Romeo & Juliet with fireworks, plumage and some seriously ribald humor.
The devastatingly handsome Esplendor and the irrepressibly adorable Donaire (social-media megastars Patrick Vollert and Gaby Garrido) first meet at the airport, having just returned from their respective journeys abroad. Denizens of Las Tablas, he lives on Calle Arriba, she on Calle Abajo, a geographical detail that pits their families in hostile opposition. But Carnaval is coming, elaborate celebrations are being organized, monarchs will be crowned, and such wild festivities have a way of sprouting romance in the most unlikely circumstances.
Award-winning director Mohamed al-Daraji’s The Journey takes on one of the most challenging topics: what pushes someone to become a suicide bomber? Filmed on location in Iraq at the Baghdad Central Train station, the tightly wound drama unfolds around the stoic Sara (newcomer Zahraa Ghandour carries the part with an unforgettable magnetism), who arrives at the bustling locale with a deadly plan. When the fast-talking and suave businessman Salam discovers her intentions, she takes him hostage in the first of several encounters that, over the course of the day, will force Sara to revaluate her plan and, more pressingly, her beliefs.
In a political charged moment, The Journey reminds us that the toll of terrorism is global, refuses simplistic sensationalism, and asks us to consider a way forward out of violence through dialogue.
Kiss me Not
Any number of problems can come up on a film shoot—but what happens when the star of the movie won’t kiss her co-star? This is the issue that Tamer is facing on the set of his debut feature: he cast the stunning Fagr (played by rising Egyptian star Yasmine Rais) for her past work in racy roles, but mid-production she suddenly becomes devout. This conundrum becomes a battle of wills that speaks to much larger societal issues regarding religion, empowerment, and even film culture itself.
In a mockumentary form, director and writer Ahmed Amer examines Fagr’s motivations, Tamer’s frustrations and weaves in beautiful footage from classic Egyptian films to create a hilarious satire that pushes the envelop in examining the contemporary contradictions of a complex country.
LIFE IS A BITCH
A riveting tale of ordinary people pushed to extremes, the latest from Brazilian director Julia Rezende hits the ground running, with old friends Clivia and Regina arguing over, of all things, whether or not to kidnap a millionaire. These ladies aren’t the criminal type, but times are tough, jobs are hard to find and harder to keep, and life is expensive—especially if you’re planning a wedding. When Clivia’s beau Vladimir finds himself newly unemployed the pressure builds to the point where a seemingly absurd scheme starts to make sense, but can these amateur abductors pull it off?
Fusing gritty Rio de Janeiro locations with slick, fluid camerawork, Rezende ratchets up the tension, building to a bracing climax while never losing sight of the all-too-real stakes for her crew of troubled souls.
Racer and the Jailbird
RACER AND THE JAILBIRD is a movie that has it all: love, crime, sex, and action, all wrapped up in a taut and twisty thriller-come-romance from the Belgian director of BULLHEAD and THE DROP (both of which starred Matthias Schoenaerts) and was the country’s official submission for Best Foreign Language Film to the Academy Awards.
The Racer is Bénédicte, known as Bibi (Adèle Exarchopoulos), an outgoing, young racing driver and the daughter of a wealthy construction magnate. The Jailbird is Gigi (Matthias Schoenaerts), a handsome playboy with, it seems, time and money to burn, but there is still much more to him than meets the eye.
It may seem obvious from the onset; they fall in love despite her initial resistance. However, when Bibi finds out what Gigi is up to on one of his weekends away – and when one of those weekends goes disastrously wrong – their relationship hangs in the balance and it is put to the test.
Having served a year in prison, 24-year-old Keith (McCaul Lombardi) is negotiating with the possibility of starting life anew or sliding into the felonious habits that brought his life to a deadening halt. Drifting between his watchful father (Jim Belushi), various old friends and a bevvy of persuasive local hoods, Keith must decide between reverting to the man he was and the man he could be.
Set in the working-class waterfront of his native Baltimore, this fourth feature from Matthew Porterfield (I Used to Be Darker) exudes the director’s masterly evocation of place and sensitivity to the ways family and community impact an individual psyche. This handsomely rendered recidivism drama is foregrounded by beautiful performances from Belushi, who seems to only get better with age, and Lombardi, who makes an indelible impression in his first leading role.
International stars Alexander Fehling (Inglorious Basterds) and Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) are featured in this perfectly paced slow-burn drama about love, survival and what it means to be a family.
Aaron is German; Lea is French. They have been a couple for two years and Aaron has grown close to Lea’s eight-year-old son Tristan. Perhaps too close: Tristan already has a father and Lea worries the situation could become confusing. The three journey to a cabin high in the Italian Dolomites so Aaron can show Tristan his favorite mountain, but a series of potentially catastrophic mishaps challenges the faith and courage of everyone involved.
Writer-director Jan Zabeil keeps his camera close enough to feel intimate while giving his actors space to breathe real life into every scene—and find their way through this spectacular and forbidding landscape.
UNDER THE TREE
It starts with a tree. Two couples, different as can be, take part in the usual snide gossip regarding those who live next door. But when a confrontation centered around Inga and Baldvin’s tree, which is casting a shadow on their neighbors Konrad and Eybjorg’s porch, comes to a boiling point, things go from childish to catastrophic.
Iceland’s official submission to the 2018 Academy Awards, Under the Tree is a pitch-black comedy of manners. Filled with acerbic wit and expertly crafted pacing and plot escalation, it’s a stark reminder of how hard it can be for us to let the small things go, sometimes to the detriment of humanity.
A VIOLENT MAN
MMA aspirant Ty (former NFL running-back Thomas Q. Jones) is spoiling for a fight. He gets more than he bargained for when he takes down an ostensibly undefeatable champion in a sparring match. Ty boasts about it to Victoria (Denise Richards), an sports writer looking for a scoop. Ty and Victoria wind up at her place… and Victoria winds up dead. Did the ferocity that makes Ty formidable in the ring get the better of him in bed?
With its powerhouse cast—Oscar nominee Bruce Davison and Jim Jarmusch regular Isaach De Bankolé also feature—director Matthew Berkowitz’s second outing speaks to the power of film noir to shine a light on the base impulses brewing below our civilized exteriors. Ty’s amiability masks a profound aggression—but does that make him a killer? Or are more methodically corrupt forces at work in this riveting tale of violence and desire?
In the latest from Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir, Shadi (Saleh Bakri) returns home to his native Nazareth for his sister’s wedding. After living abroad in Europe, Shadi has a different take on life than his more conservative father, Abu Shadi (Mohammad Bakri)—and Abu Shadi doesn’t miss a moment to subtly let his son know his way is the better one.
With these often comic tensions simmering, the pair set out to honor their “wajib” (duty) and personally invite neighbors and friends to the forthcoming nuptials. As the day wears on, however, the gulf between the two men becomes increasingly apparent, and they are forced to face not only each other but also themselves.
Played by real-life father-son duo, the Bakris bring a profound realism to this quietly funny drama, which shows that while life’s forces can change us, some bonds—family, home and identity—remain the same.
Special Presentations (9)
IN THE MORNING
Set in Brooklyn, In The Morning is a searing journey through the lives of nine smart, fiercely articulate New Yorkers. Friends: Harper, Ravi, Fez, Bly and Amara gather to bid farewell to one of their own moving abroad, and debate the compromise and loss of their youthful ideals regarding marriage, fidelity, life and love. Two lovers: Malik and Cadence, meet to ceremoniously end a whirlwind romance that has collapsed under the weight of fears, obligations and regrets. A couple: Zuri and Leal, sift through the remains of their broken relationship as they try to make a life altering decision. They begin to come to terms with their disintegrated trust, and the possibility of renewal. For everyone, life will be indelibly altered in the morning.
Reel Music (5)
Narrative and documentary films with music-themed content. Magical moments, haunting melodies, genius performances… all emanating from a masterful combination of music and film.
“Music is freedom.” These words, spoken by founder, director and vocalist Gustavo Aguado, speak volumes about the enduring power of Guaco, the Venezuelan super-group that has been thrilling listeners and for decades. Formed in 1968 in Maracaibo, the 17-member outfit, with their sprawling diversity of sources and inspiration—gaita, salsa, pop, jazz—is gloriously impossible to pigeonhole.
This vibrant documentary from Alberto Arvelo—last at the Festival with To Play and to Fight—functions both as a history and a portrait in present-tense, following the band as they rehearse in the studio and tour Japan and the US. Brimming with performance and interviews, Guaco: Semblanza is an electrifying musical journey that will enrich your sense of what Latin music can be—and infuse your body with rhythms that will keep you moving long after the credits roll.
I TITA, A LIFE OF TANGO (Yo Soy así, Tita de Buenos Aires)
An alluring melodrama inspired by the life of actress, singer and dancer Tita Merello, I Tita, a Life of Tango takes this fascinating figure from the golden age of Argentine cinema and gives her the sweeping treatment she deserves.
Born Laura Ana Merello, our resourceful, charismatic heroine goes from a childhood of destitution and tragedy to find ardent lovers, opulence and renown in Buenos Aires’ cabarets and concert halls and, eventually, the cinema, where she would enjoy a long and diverse career, leaving her indelible mark on such films as Morir en su ley, Los isleros and The Bastard.
Assembling a seductive audiovisual ambiance from the clothes, architecture and music of old Buenos Aires, writer-director María Teresa Costantini and her meticulous collaborators bring Tita’s wild life and times to vivid life.
INDESTRUCTIBLE: THE SOUL OF SALSA (INDESTRUCTIBLE, EL ALMA DE LA SALSA)
This beautifully bewitching musical odyssey takes us from Madrid to various locales all over the Americas in search of the sundry sources of that divine tradition we call salsa.
Director David Pareja follows Spanish flamenco singer Diego “El Cigala” as he embarks on a journey prompted by his late wife and manager, who had long dreamed of their making a salsa record. With stops in Cali, Havana, Punta Cana, San Juan, Miami and New York,Indestructible doesn’t miss a beat, enlisting the likes of Omara Portuondo, Larry Harlow and the Fania All-Stars as our guides. Their stories are endlessly fascinating, but the backbone of this documentary voyage is the music itself, played in studios, on stages and in streets by El Cigala and some of the world’s finest practitioners.
ME, MY FATHER AND THE CARIOCAS – 70 Years of Music in Brazil
What is the sound of Rio de Janeiro? For those who know that singular city’s musical vibe, the answer is undoubtedly The Cariocas, the legendary vocal group that popularized bossa nova. This documentary traces the history of modern Brazilian music through the evolution of The Cariocas, from its origins in the golden age of Radio Nacional to its vibrant present incarnation.
Directed by Lúcia Veríssimo, daughter of Cariocas conductor Severino Filho, Me, My Father and The Cariocas brims with intimate interviews that only a trusted insider could glean. Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso: Veríssimo’s subjects read like a who’s who of Brazilian music royalty, making this a vital artifact that will inform and inspire music lovers for years to come.
A NIGHT OF CALYPSO
(Una Noche de Calipso)
Calypso came into the American consciousness largely through the success of the great Harry Belafonte in the 1950s, but this gorgeous musical tradition can be traced back to the mid-19th century at least, when its unique rhythmic sway and intricate melodies emerged in the heart of the Caribbean.
This musically irresistible and culturally vital documentary from Fernando Muñoz offers a history of calypso by profiling one of the last active Panamanian calypso ensembles, Grupo Amistad, as they mount a truly glorious concert. Through rehearsals, interviews and, most of all, the music itself, A Night of Calypso functions as a call to ensure that this dynamic genre, with all its aesthetic, social and political history intact, survives, thrives, and is passed onto the next generation.
Cinema & China (3)
Three generations of women grapple with the vagaries of love in this profoundly wise new film from Taiwanese writer-director-star Sylvia Chang.
After her mother passes, Huiying (Chang) determines that her parents should be buried together. The hitch is her father’s first wife, who has tended his grave for years, flatly rejects the arrangement, refusing to leave her perch upon the grave and enlisting a horde of angry villagers to help her cause. Thanks to Huiying’s TV producer daughter’s video of the event, the interfamilial fracas makes the local news. Meanwhile, Huiying’s campaign to unite her parents’ remains begins to reflect on her own marital doldrums.
With lush cinematography from Mark Lee (In the Mood For Love), uniformly exquisite performances and sympathies to all involved, Love Education speaks to universal longings and anxieties about impermanence, authenticity and the dictates of the heart.
WALKING PAST THE FUTURE
Following the fate of a family of migrant workers seeking a place to call home in modern China, this heartrending new film from writer-director Li Ruijun (River Road) incisively examines urgent social concerns through the lens of a handful of elegantly drawn characters.
It’s been over 20 years since the Yangs left their impoverished hometown of Gansu in search of employment in faraway Shenzhen. But opportunities there have evaporated and the Yangs return to Gansu—only to discover that the land they once owned no longer belongs to them. Their daughter Yaoting, meanwhile, stays in Shenzhen, where she assembles motherboards in a factory while finding consolation in social media. Both generations struggle to envision a brighter future—but they come to realize that, no matter what, they will always find strength in each other.
Specially curated for program for film fan families to enjoy together.
FISHTRONAUT THE MOVIE
Based on the hit Brazlian television series, this animated 3D feature offers wave after wave of fun and adventure for the whole family while imparting a deeply important message about environmental responsibility.
Fishtronaut dons his reverse scuba gear to venture out of his underwater comfort zone and into the oxygenated world, where he joins his friends Marina and Zeek the Monkey to travel to the big city and investigate the disappearance of Doctor Green, Mac and Billy. The city, however, appears inexplicably abandoned and this loveable trio’s mission turns out to be far more mysterious than they anticipated.
With its colorful imagery and lively music, Fishtronaut is as diverting as it is instructive, helping viewers to understand the importance of making choices that will help keep our world beautiful and inhabitable for generations to come.
HOME TEAM (Mi Mundial)
Based on the Latin American best-seller by former fútbolista Daniel Baldi, Uruguayan director Carlos Andrés Morelli’s feature debut follows an adolescent soccer prodigy poised for big-league success—so long as his hubris don’t get in his way.
Everyone knows Tito is a whiz on the field, but his father insists he place equal emphasis on his studies. That balance topples, however, once an agent pegs Tito as a major talent and convinces the family to uproot from their rural Nogales home and relocate to Montevideo. Will Tito fulfill his dream? Or will his focus on fútbol to the detriment of everything sabotage his goals?
Fueled by big-hearted performances—especially from Néstor Guzzini, star of MFF ’13 selection So Much Water—Home Team is a cautionary tale that understands both the thrill of the game and the importance of seeing life’s big picture.
LILA’s BOOK (El libro de Lila)
The border that divides storybooks from everyday life dissolves in Colombian writer-director Marcela Rincón González’s marvelous animated adventure about a very special girl trying to find her way home.
Lila is a character from a children’s book who accidentally winds up caught in the world of her readers. The only person who can help Lila return to her rightful place is Ramón, the book’s owner, but he’s grown up now, has stopped reading and, most problematic of all, has lost his sense of wonder. Lila and her new pal Manuela are determined to convince Ramón of Lila’s plight, but in order to retrieve Lila’s book they must traverse the treacherous Desert of Lost Memories.
Lila’s Book is a tale of faith, memory and mystery, moving between worlds to discover the beauty of friendship and the comforts of coming home.
Adapted from a celebrated series of graphic novels by co-director Arthur de Pins, this fiendishly entertaining animated feature images the one place in this world where monsters can feel free from persecution. Located in an industrial town in Northern France, Zombillénium is an amusement park overseen by werewolves, vampires and, of course, zombies, all of whom pretend to be ordinary folks in monstrous guises. It’s shady business as usual until a health and safety inspector—and amateur guitar wizard—begins scouring the grounds for a code violation and finds something rather more satanic than stray hair in the candy floss.
With its instantly charming character design, dazzling sense of movement and twisty plot, Zombillénium generates a ghoulishly good time out of one man’s descent into a teeming monster mash.
IMDbPro Shorts Competition (25)
Short films that have held their world premiere after March 20, 2017 and are 30 minutes or less, and that have not been or will not be scheduled for public consumption through any form of public broadcast (including internet) or commercial theatrical engagement in the US prior to March 20, 2018, are eligible to compete for a jury-selected cash prize of $2,500, courtesy of IMDbPro.
TOM IN COUCHLAND
A dude is sucked into the couch after searching for his remote. He meets a talking cookie, quarter, and sock who want to kill his remote and trap him in the couch forever. He is chased and launches on a couch spring to escape. Just as he is about to be caught by a giant sock monster, he wakes up from his crazy dream and is reunited with his remote once again.
From the Vault (3)
Iconic films that deserve another theatrical viewing and opportunity to leave their mark
Engaging, on-stage conversations with film industry leaders on how to best navigate new filmmaking frontiers