TIFF 22 short film review: Sophy Romvari’s ‘IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS’ pulls the run out from underneath you with its intimacy.


IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS

Filmmaker Sophy Romvari features a young woman named Becca Willow Moss as she embarks on a unique journey of self-discovery with others. IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS has the audience eavesdropping on phone conversations. The voices on the other end of the line each desire something different. The men seem to seek romance, while others lean more sexual. Her other calls engage an entirely different demographic; the elderly. These chats revolve around memory, singing, reassurance, and pure love.

Becca has a knack for discovering what motivates each person. She describes herself to people as a multi-faceted artist. A label I covet myself. She is the most genuine and gentle communicator. She is giving and authentic. I remain completely enamored by her.

The cinematography is 90% comprised of closeup shots of mannerisms, objects in the room, Becca’s hair and clothes, and her face as she speaks and listens to those she calls. Combined with the fact that the 11-minute run has us solely inside Becca’s apartment lends to the intimacy already created by her words. It’s a brilliant choice, frankly.

Romvari had me thoroughly engrossed from the very beginning. I could have easily watched a feature-length version of Becca and her callers. Therein lies the irony of IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS. As we get comfortable with the narrative structure, Romvari steps in, via voice only, and asks Becca what she thinks the project’s meaning might be. Her answer takes you aback. While we enjoy the film for unconsciously selfish reasons, Becca has her own motivation that I did not expect. Undoubtedly one of the best short films at TIFF22. It’s about the universal need for human connection. Everyone needs someone to listen. Everyone needs to feel seen.


Short Cuts Programme 06.
Sophy Romvari
CANADA | 2022 | English
11 minutes


Fri, Sep 16
IN-PERSON
Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
5:30pm


Sat, Sep 17
IN-PERSON
Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
9:05am


 

TIFF22 review: Midnight Madness selection ‘THE PEOPLE’S JOKER’ is a trans coming-of-age tale with eye-popping visuals and laughs to spare.

THE PEOPLE’S JOKER

An aspiring clown grappling with her gender identity combats a fascistic caped crusader, in writer-director Vera Drew’s uproariously subversive queer coming-of-age origin story.


Vera Drew‘s TIFF22 Midnight Madness feature, THE PEOPLE’S JOKER, is a visual explosion of mixed media deliciousness. Creatively autobiographical, watching the film is like taking ecstasy while simultaneously receiving an important message. Drew’s script overflows with biting satire about gender politics, comedy, and emotional healing. While we’re busy laughing and wondering how she got away with parodying DC, Disney, and other trademarks, she slyly exposes cyclical and deep-seated trauma.

 

I have to mention Nathan Faustyn by name. He plays Penguin with an unfiltered edge. Faustyn has incredible comic timing, and his chemistry with Vera is perfect. I want to see more of him in anything. Vera Drew speaks truth to power in a raw and undeniably hilarious manner. The writing is fearless, the performance is vulnerable, and her vision as a filmmaker is endlessly engrossing and quirky.

I adored the “bleeping” to avoid deadnaming. It was a quietly powerful device allowing Drew to address it head-on later in the film. Keep your ears sharp for voice cameos from Tim Heidecker and Bob Odenkirk. The original music is super catchy. Stick around through the credits for some extra treats. You’ll finally realize how expansive THE PEOPLE’S JOKER is. Each visual aspect comes from a different creative’s brilliant mind. This wild fandom mash-up is part confessional therapy session and another part cult coming-of-age indie.


United States of America, 2022
English
WORLD PREMIERE
92 minutes
Director
Vera Drew
Cast
Vera Drew, Vera Drew, Lynn Downey, Kane Distler, Nathan Faustyn, David Liebe Hart, Christian Calloway, Griffin Kramer, Phil Braun, Tim Heidecker, Ember Knight, Sarah Sherman
Cinematography
Nate Cornett
Editing
Vera Drew, Vera Drew
Executive Producers
Lindsay Cohen, Brian Alkerton, Bee Frederickson, Leo Kovalik, Jr., Johnee Reyna
Producer
Joey Lyons
Production Company
Haunted Gay Ride Productions
Production Designers
Laura Wheeler, Courtney McIntosh, Amy Smoot, Yesi Rego, Lauren Kezon
Screenplay
Vera Drew, Bri LeRose
Sound
Jake Robinson
Original Score
Justin Krol, Quinn Scharber, Ember Knight, Danni Rowan, Elias and the Error

TIFF 22 review: ‘CHARCOAL’ is a fiery and biting feature debut from writer-director Carolina Markowicz.

CHARCOAL

In her brilliant feature-film debut, writer-director Carolina Markowicz brings TIFF22 audiences a one-of-a-kind dramedy in CHARCOAL (CARVÃO). Irene and Jairo find themselves barely scraping from the money earned from their Charcoal factory, saddled with an ailing father and precocious 9-year-old son, Jean. Suddenly offered money to hide an Argentinian drug kingpin, things get weird for everyone. 

Rômulo Braga plays Jairo with passion, but not for his wife. Jairo is a miserable soul. Braga brings a slovenly and combative manner that breaks in private. 

How do you keep a nine-year-old from spilling the beans? Jean Costa brings the perfect amount of sass to the role of young Jean. His performance is so natural you might think he’s improvising each line. 

Cesar Bordon is Juan. His confusion only matched by his oblivious, holier-than-thou nature. His scenes with Costa are incredibly amusing. But it is his feisty chemistry with Jinkings that you’ll remember most.

Maeve Jinkings plays Irene with slick confidence and a fearless attitude. She is never intimidated by Juan’s presence. On the contrary, she sees him as a nuisance and a necessary means to an end. Jinkings casual delivery under pressure makes Markowicz’s screenplay shine. It’s a real wow.

I was entirely unprepared for the dark humor in this undeniably genius script. You’ll find yourself smirking as Juan prepares for his unexpected pitstop. After his arrival, the hilarity ensues with the utmost seriousness. Almost every scene drips with sarcasm, and it is glorious. One of the best films at TIFF22, CHARCOAL boasts twist after twist. Part satire, part social commentary, do not miss it.


Brazil, Argentina, 2022
Portuguese, Spanish
WORLD PREMIERE
107 minutes
Director
Carolina Markowicz
Cast
Maeve Jinkings, Cesar Bordon, Jean Costa, Romulo Braga, Camila Mardila, Pedro Wagner, Aline Marta
Cinematography
Pepe Mendes


TIFF 22 review: Bill Nighy’s glorious performance in ‘LIVING’ sends a universal message of love and kindness.

LIVING

Director Oliver Hermanus brings TIFF22 audiences LIVING, a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru. This beautifully life-affirming script from Nobel- and Booker Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro captures the heart. The legendary Bill Nighy helms this film as Mr. Williams. A typical mid-level government bureaucrat in 1952, Williams never ruffles any feathers and maintains a routine to the point of soulless monotony. After he receives a terminal diagnosis, he must reassess his years of playing by the rules and learn how to begin living.

Alex Sharp is Peter Wakeling, the newest member of Mr. Williams’ team. He is the audience’s lens through which to observe Nighy’s reputation. His ability to understand the bigger picture showcases Sharp’s talents. He is simply lovely here. Aimee Lou Woods plays Nighy’s spirited office mate, Margaret Harris. Her young enthusiasm and gentle nature present an intriguing foil for Nighy. Woods displays a wide-eyed honesty that gives way to genuine companionship. She becomes a shoulder to cry on and a replacement for his estranged son. Their chemistry is a delight. 

Bill Nighy gives a quietly profound performance as Mr. Williams. Each beat overflows with complexity, regrets, and thoughtfulness. Nighy breathes life into this role with passing moments. His heartfelt rendition of the Scottish folk song Rowan Tree moved me to tears. It is an award-worthy turn.

A community playground becomes the symbol of a life worth living. An apology for the inconvenience, an offer of assistance, and a kind word; the impact of these seemingly small gestures have a ripple effect. The structure of the script is surprising and relentlessly engaging. I found myself lost in the quiet dignity of it all. 

The sumptuous score from Emelie Levienaise – Farrouch is enveloping. Beautifully framed and lit cinematography from Jamie Ramsey suits this story perfectly. I felt the final shot in my gut.

LIVING is not a boisterous film. It is a story that makes you want to be a better person. It is a lesson in human connection, mutual respect, and taking a breath to enjoy each moment. LIVING speaks volumes about leaving a legacy of kindness.


United Kingdom, 2022
English
CANADIAN PREMIERE
102 minutes
Director
Oliver Hermanus
Cast
Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp, Tom Burke
Cinematography
Jamie D. Ramsay
Editing
Chris Wyatt
Producers
Stephen Woolley, Elizabeth Karlsen
Production Company
Number 9 Films
Production Designer
Helen Scott
Screenplay
Kazuo Ishiguro


TIFF22 review: Marie Clements’ ‘BONES OF CROWS’ is an exquisite cinematic experience of trauma and hope.

BONES OF CROWS

Centuries of trauma reveal themselves on the big screen in the TIFF22 feature film BONES OF CROWS by writer-director Marie ClementsIt’s a visceral but undeniably important watch. The film occurs over the span of 100 years. Watching the Catholic church, aided by the government, nonchalantly discussing the planned eradication of the poor is infuriating. Indigenous children were ripped from the arms of their parents, under threat of incarceration, and placed in residential homes run by severe priests and nuns. Children were stripped of their culture and used as lab rats. The number of children buried in unmarked graves is unfathomable. 

In the film, we bounce in time as unresolved trauma and abuse rear their ugly head through decades. Actress Grace Dove plays Aline Spears beginning at age 16. Once a promising concert pianist, her hopes and dreams were dashed by physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Her memories, accompanied by those of one of her siblings and husband, intertwine to paint a harrowing picture of torture and fear. But, the pain inflicted upon her never extinguishes her soul. As she endures continued racism, Aline has the last word through a chance visit to the Vatican and the legacy of her children. 

While BONES OF CROWS predominantly follows the fallout of one family, their story is tragically universal. Dove carries the weight of the film on her shoulders, reminding the audience of the strength of the Canadian native population. Her unrelenting and raw bravery lets the audience reside in her psyche with a quiet discomfort needed for BONES OF CROWS to succeed as it does.

The beauty and triumph of BONES OF CROWS occur in unexpected moments. The appearance of the titular birds becomes a recurring theme of hope. You cannot ignore the striking cinematography. The film’s finale is a much-needed emotional catharsis. When you hear and feel the song “You Are My Bones,’ co-written by Marie Clements, you won’t be able to hold back any longer. Bones of Crows is a soul-changing film. It’s simply exquisite storytelling. TIFF22 audiences are privileged to experience this first. BONES OF CROWS is a jaw-dropping cinematic experience. 


An epic account of the life of Cree matriarch Aline Spears that spans generations, Marie Clements’ Bones of Crows is a powerful indictment of the abuse of Indigenous peoples as well as a stirring story of resilience and resistance.

This programme contains scenes that may distress some viewers, especially those who have experienced harm, abuse, violence, and/or intergenerational trauma due to colonial practices.

Support is available 24 hours a day for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and for those who may be triggered by content dealing with residential schools, child abuse, emotional trauma, and racism. The national Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available at 1-866-925-4419.


Canada, 2022
English, Cree, ʔayʔajuθəm, Italian
WORLD PREMIERE
127 minutes
Director
Marie Clements
Cast
Grace Dove, Phillip Forest Lewitski, Alyssa Wapanatâhk, Michelle Thrush, Glen Gould, Gail Maurice, Carla Rae, Cara Gee, Rémy Girard, Karine Vanasse, Jonathon Whitesell, Patrick Garrow, Summer Testawich, Sierra McRae, Tanaya Beatty, Joshua Odjick, Alanis Obomsawin


TIFF22 review: ‘MY SAILOR, MY LOVE’ boasts beautifully complex performances.

MY SAILOR, MY LOVE

In Klaus Härö‘s TIFF22 feature, My Sailor, My Love, Grace hires a much-needed housekeeper for her curmudgeonly father, Howard. When Annie enters their lives, the family dynamic reaches a breaking point.

The friction between Howard and Grace slowly comes to light. Grace’s bitterness towards Annie stems from an inability to let her father move on in life. As his lifelong caretaker, her deep-seated resentment proves a daunting hurdle for everyone. Catherine Walker gives a nuanced performance. You can feel the weary weight of the years. Anyone who has cared for an aging family member will recognize emotional exhaustion and perhaps a touch of martyrdom. Walker bears all in the role.

This endearing later-stage love story is as lovely as can be. Annie and Howard’s earnest chemistry come to life with the extraordinary performances by James Cosmo and Bríd Brennan. Beautifully paced histories of their former selves lend to its authenticity. So much of the script occurs in things unsaid.

Brennan plays Annie with a generous disposition. Anyone would be lucky to have her as a scene partner. Her presence fills the screen with warmth. Brennan is spectacular.

Howard exists through the emotional redemption of James Cosmo. Cosmo gives us every bit of himself as a man mired in hurt, fear, and shame. As Howard, he longs for happiness and must come to terms with past regressions to heal. It is an award-worthy turn.

The score from Michelino Bisceglia has a classic elegance. The thoughtful cinematography by Robert Nordström includes breathtaking ariel views and impactful tracking shots. The care and intention are impossible to miss. My Sailor, My Love will capture the hearts of TIFF22 audiences.


Finland, Ireland, 2022
English
WORLD PREMIERE
103 minutes
Director
Klaus Härö
Cast
James Cosmo, Bríd Brennan, Catherine Walker


Film lovers unite! TIFF 2022 is upon us. Here’s what we’re excited to see. #TIFF22

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2022 has arrived! This year there is a little bit (or a lot) for everyone, from In Conversation With Taylor Swift and a screening of All Too Well: The Short Film on 35mm, Viola Davis in The Woman King, to the Midnight Madness world premiere of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. TIFF never disappoints and this year, in its 47th edition, the stars come out to entertain the masses. With so many options, here are a few titles we’re keeping our eyes on.


CHARCOAL (PLATFORM SECTION–WORLD PREMIERE)

Brazil, 2022. In a remote area in São Paulo’s countryside, a rural family who lives beside a charcoal factory accepts a proposal to host a mysterious foreigner. The home soon becomes a hideout as the so-called guest happens to be a highly wanted drug lord. The mother, her husband and child will have to learn how to share the same roof with this stranger, while keeping up appearances of an unchanged peasant routine.

Writer-director Carolina Markowicz has had many of her short films play the festival. This will be her feature debut and I cannot wait to experience her storytelling in long form.


BONES OF CROWS (Contemporary World Cinema, World Premiere)

 

Unfolding over 100 years, BONES OF CROWS is a feature film told through the eyes of Cree Matriarch Aline Spears as she survives a childhood in Canada’s residential school system to continue her family’s generational fight in the face of systemic starvation, racism, and sexual abuse.

We’re all aware by now of the horror stories of the children forced to live in Canada’s residential schools. So much so that the Pope apologized for the abuse the children endured after innumerable graves were discovered on the former grounds. Bones of Crows is a vastly important story.

*This program contains scenes that may distress some viewers, especially those who have experienced harm, abuse, violence, and/or intergenerational trauma due to colonial practices.

Support is available 24 hours a day for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and for those who may be triggered by content dealing with residential schools, child abuse, emotional trauma, and racism. The national Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available at 1-866-925-4419.


BROTHER (Special Presentations, World Premiere)
Propelled by the pulsing beats of Toronto’s early hip hop scene, BROTHER is the story of Francis (Aaron Pierre) and Michael (Lamar Johnson), sons of Caribbean immigrants maturing into young men. Director Clement Virgo expertly tackles themes of masculinity, identity and family as a mystery unfolds during the sweltering summer of 1991, and escalating tensions set off a series of events that change the course of the brothers’ lives forever.

Writer-director Clement Virgo brings TIFF audiences a tale more relevant today than ever. A study in grief, Brother is bound to impact viewers is a visceral manner.


DALÍLAND (Gala Presentation, World Premiere, **Closing Night**)
Mary Harron’s DALÍLAND is both a coming of age story and a searing, funny and sympathetic portrait of crisis in the late life of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Experienced through the eyes of young gallery assistant James Linton (Christopher Briney) as he is invited into a glamorous new world, audiences will uncover the true Dalí (Sir Ben Kingsley) – the complex, flawed, and deeply human man behind the brilliant paintings, wild theatrics, and iconic mustache and explore his especially tempestuous relationship with Gala (Barbara Sukowa), his wife and muse.\

Sir Ben Kingsley releases Dali from an enigmatic caricature and humanizes the genius, his life, and his work.


THE PEOPLE’S JOKER (Midnight Madness, World Premiere)
After years numbing herself with irony and an inhalant called Smylex, an unfunny aspiring clown grapples with gender identity, first love, and old foes all while founding an illegal comedy theater in Gotham City. It’s a queer coming-of-age Joker Origin story. Completely unlicensed by DC and Warner Brothers. Starring and directed by Vera Drew (“Beef House,” “Who Is America”) and featuring the work of 200 independent artists on three separate continents, all made during a global pandemic!

A queer coming-of-age satire and multi-media extravaganza, this mashup of fandoms I never knew I needed.


MY SAILOR, MY LOVE (Contemporary World Cinema, World Premiere)
MY SAILOR, MY LOVE is a heart-warming drama on timeless love and forgiveness. Howard (James Cosmo) is a retired sailor and widower, his daughter Grace (Catherine Walker) hires a caregiver Annie (Bríd Brennan). Reclusive and stubborn, Howard rejects Annie’s company, but eventually opens his heart and gives final love a chance.

A raw and compelling family drama, My Sailor, My Love is teeming with complexity and outstanding performances.


THE WOMAN KING  (World Premiere — Gala Presentations)

Synopsis: The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar®-winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for…

Listen, if you tell me that Viola Davis is starring in a film, my butt is in a seat. Based on a true story? Well, that’s solidly in Davis’ wheelhouse, but really what isn’t? This is one highly anticipated film already.


ALLELUJAH (SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS)

This glorious reunion of Oscar winner Judi Dench and director Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal) is a spirited homage to the idiosyncrasies of old age and the noble fortitude of health-care workers everywhere. Adapted by Heidi Thomas from Alan Bennett’s stage play, Allelujah assembles a stunning ensemble of veteran British actors, including Jennifer Saunders, David Bradley, and Derek Jacobi.

There is every chance this will be an absolute crowd pleaser. The premise alone has me making up scenarios in my head of pure shenanigans. With a hell of a cast, Allelujah cannot go wrong.


FIXATION (Contemporary World Cinema)

Maddie Hasson (Malignant) plays a young woman committed to an unorthodox institution by a pair of enigmatic doctors (Genesis Rodriguez and Stephen McHattie).

Another feature debut from a female filmmaker, Mercedes Bryce Morgan brings to life an ambitious physiological thriller that will mesmerize with wild production design. I don’t think any of us are ready for such treatment. (pun intended)


LIVING (CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA)

In this exquisitely realized remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru, director Oliver Hermanus teams with Nobel- and Booker Prize–winning author Kazuo Ishiguro to renew a classic. LIVING is the story of an ordinary man, reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadow existence, who at the eleventh hour makes a supreme effort to turn his dull life into something wonderful – into one he can say has been lived to the full

The magnificent Bill Nighy helms this film about humanity and mortality. With Mothering Sunday vets, cinematographer Jamie Ramsay and production designer Helen Scott, Living will undoubtedly be a feast for the eyes.

THE LOST KING (SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS)

Synopsis: In the archaeological find of a century, the remains of King Richard III — presumed scattered over 500 years ago — were discovered beneath a parking lot in Leicester in 2012. The search had been conceived and motivated by an amateur historian, Philippa Langley, whose passion and unrelenting research were met with skepticism. THE LOST KING is the inspiring true story of a woman who refused to be ignored and who took on Britain’s most eminent historians, forcing them to rethink the legacy of one of the most controversial kings in England’s history. A tale of discovery, obsession, and stolen glory (both then and now), THE LOST KING is a magical adventure illuminated by one woman’s growing sense of purpose.

My husband and I are history nerds. We’ve seen the documentary of this very story and it was nothing short of fascinating. For those who may not know the vile things said about King Richard III, it’s rather shocking. Sally Hawkins is the perfect choice to capture Philippa Langley‘s determined journey to uncover the truth.

MOVING ON (GALA PRESENTATIONS)

Synopsis: Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star in this fusion of audacious comedy and bracing drama about estranged pals who are reunited when a beloved mutual friend dies, leaving her widower the target of a revenge plan.

Perhaps some of the most notable chemistry we’ve seen between two women in years bounds off the screen when Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda work together. These two powerhouse ladies bring heart and humor to a story much more complex than at first sight. TIFF audiences are bound to cheer for Moving On.


ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE (Discovery)

Based on the book by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, two teenage Mexican-American loners in 1987 El Paso explore a new, unusual friendship and the difficult road to self-discovery.

Another female director’s feature debut (in case anyone is counting and cheering along with me), Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is more than a queer coming-of-age story. You’d never guess Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales were first-time leads. Lin-Manuel Miranda joins a powerhouse team of producers after narrating Sáenz‘s audiobook in 2013 and then reading writer-director Aitch Alberto’s screenplay. He knows a little something about quality writing, so his seal of approval is huge.


TIFF 2022 runs from September 8th to the 18th.

For more information on the fest, visit tiff.net


Review: ‘1982’ is a cinematic wonder.

Visually stunning cinematography heightens the emotional stronghold of 1982. The film is unusually relevant as the war in Ukraine threatens the everyday lives of children and adults in the region. As news of the Lebanon war is a constant din in the film, elementary school children navigate love, exam anxiety, friendship, and all that encompasses those complex feelings. 

Mohamad Dalli plays Wissam with genuine star quality. His performance feels effortless as he attempts to confess his love for classmate Joanna. Miscommunications lead to natural hurt feelings and aggression toward his best friend and scene partner Ghassan Maalouf. The two boys have brilliant chemistry. Add on the object of Wissam’s affection in actress Gia Madi. Their energy is movie magic. 

1982 keeps you on the edge of your seat, heart in your throat from beginning to end. The harrowing juxtaposition of war deliberately creeps up on you. All eyes are on the skies as teachers and students notice the increased activity of planes and then smoke. The intense sense of dread is consuming. All while these kids are just trying to be kids. The film speaks to the resiliency of children. There are many parallels for American audiences, as school shootings fill parents and students with dread. The script has a universality that will touch every single viewer. It might seem like an unusual suggestion, but I believe this is a film that can be and should be, watched with the entire family. With a final touch of much-needed, childlike whimsey, 1982 is a glorious cinematic triumph. 


The award-winning Lebanese film “1982” which is opening exclusively in select theaters beginning June 10th in New York (at the Quad Cinema), followed by Los Angeles (at Laemmle Royal & other locations) on June 24th. The film will then expand into additional theaters nationwide throughout the summer.

About the filmmakerOualid Mouaness is an award winning Lebanese-American writer, director and producer. Liberian born to Lebanese parents, Mouaness grew up between Beirut and Monrovia. His work traverses narrative and documentary feature films, music films, music videos and commercials. Mouaness has produced nine feature length films (docs & narratives): notably, the indie film “Kitchen Privileges” (SXSW 2000) that he co-produced and edited, the acclaimed documentary ‘RIZE’ (Sundance 2005) which was shortlisted for the Oscars in 2006, as well as the South African LAIFF Audience-award-winning documentary “I Am Thalente” (2015), and most recently the experiential documentary “Max Richter’s Sleep” (2020) that had its world premiere at IDFA 2019 and its North American premiere at Sundance 2020. His short film “The Rifle, The Jackal, The Wolf and the Boy” was shortlisted for the Oscars in 2017. His straddling of life in diaspora with a window into life in Lebanon brings a heightened understanding and nuance to his work. He’s a Sundance Institute Fellow and has called Los Angeles home for over two decades. He completed his undergraduate studies in Journalism and Theatre in Beirut and holds an MFA in Film from the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. “1982” is Oualid’s directorial feature film debut.

IFC Midnight trailer debut: ‘A BANQUET’ dishes out family and fear this February.

A BANQUET

Directed by Ruth Paxton
Starring Sienna Guillory, Jessica Alexander, Ruby Stokes,
and Lindsay Duncan

Synopsis
Widowed mother Holly (Sienna Guillory) is radically tested when her teenage daughter Betsey (Jessica Alexander) experiences a profound enlightenment and insists that her body is no longer her own, but in service to a higher power. Bound to her newfound faith, Betsey refuses to eat but loses no weight. In an agonizing dilemma, torn between love and fear, Holly is forced to confront the boundaries of her own beliefs.


Opens in Select Theaters, on Digital Platforms
and VOD on February 18th


About the Director
Ruth Paxton is a Scottish filmmaker who graduated in 2007 with an MA in Film and TV from Screen Academy Scotland having gained her honours degree at Edinburgh College of Art. Her award-winning shorts have been exhibited and nominated in competition at numerous international events and prominent film festivals. Winner of Best Woman Director at the 12th London Short Film Festival for her film PULSE, and nominated one of Canongate Books 40 Scottish Storytellers of The Future; artists anticipated to dominate the next 40 years of creative life in Scotland. In 2019 Screen Daily featured her as one of ‘Six emerging Scotland based Directors you need to know.’ A BANQUET is Ruth’s debut feature, a psychological horror produced by Tea Shop Productions and Riverstone Pictures. The film is represented by HanWay Films, and was recently acquired by IFC Films for North America. It was selected for the Great 8 showcase at Cannes Marche presented by BFI, BBC Films and the British Council, and will have its World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival 2021, in the Discovery section.


Directed by: Ruth Paxton
Written by: Justin Bull
Produced by: Leonora Darby, Nik Bower, James Harris, Mark Lane, Laure Vaysse
Director of Photography: David Liddell
Edited by: Matyas Fekete
Starring: Sienna Guillory, Jessica Alexander, Ruby Stokes, Kaine Zajaz, Lindsay Duncan
Runtime: 97 mins


IFC MIDNIGHT
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Review: ‘THE HUMANS’ is a living, breathing tableau of the American family.

THE HUMANS

Erik Blake gathers three generations of his Pennsylvania family to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls and eerie things go bump in the night, the group’s deepest fears are laid bare.


I wish I had seen Stephen Karam‘s stage version of The Humans. As a theatre major/lover, I could immediately feel the weight of the dialogue; subjects that feel mundane, long pauses fill the air, then the delicious, sharp back and forth. Karam developed his Tony-award-winning script for the screen and every single second of it is authentic. The most magical part of The Humans for a kid that grew up in the Connecticut burbs and then attended a theatre conservatory on the Upper West Side is the specificity to every detail of the sets and sound editing. Now 41, owning a co-op a block away from school, I realize how immune I’ve become to the sounds of a clanking and hissing radiator or the banging footsteps of the neighbors overhead. It is only when I visit home for the holidays that I notice the birds chirping or the silence of a neighborhood with picket fences. And yet, The Humans taps into a universality of the American family. There is something so familiar about the generational divides that appear around a dinner table; the brazen backtalk of the youngest adult, the words of wisdom, often misconstrued, from the parental units. Relationships are rubbed raw by alcohol or exhaustion. It’s a visceral discomfort that is highlighted brilliantly in this film. 

Karam’s use of sound, in particular, makes The Humans a genre-bending ride. Don’t be confused when your heart sounds and you think you’ve mistakenly turned on a horror film. The deliberate panic-inducing score and sound editing exacerbate buried secrets in The Humans. Karam’s carefully curated script is a masterclass in storytelling. He clearly understands the natural rhythm of familial banter. Each character experiences an arc over a few hours. The Humans plays in real-time. The blocking is coordinated chaos, and I mean that in the highest regard. The camera sits quietly, like an observer in an adjacent part of the apartment. Speaking of, in seeing photos of the two-story unit set from the Broadway run, I am even more impressed at the similarities in the film. With the cramped spaces down to the water stains on the walls, the production team deserves all the awards. 

The cast is superb. Amy Schumer stuns in the role of eldest daughter Aimee. The quiet anguish in her eyes and understanding tones of an adult kid attempting to maintain peace resonates immediately. Her performance has an authenticity that will make you take notice. Steven Yeun is a gentle pleaser as youngest daughter Brigid’s (Beanie Feldstein) boyfriend. He is attentive and honest, with perfectly played outsider energy. It should be no surprise to anyone paying attention to Yeun’s roles since leaving The Walking Dead. His talents are limitless. Dementia takes hold of matriarch Momo, played by the legendary June Squibb. While she technically has little dialogue, each syllable has weight. You’re fully aware of her importance. 

Beanie Feldstein as a musician and wide-eyed optimist, Brigid gives us the know-it-all baby of the family, please treat me as an adult vibe we need. You know her character. Feldstein’s delivery is chef’s kiss. Reprising her Tony Award-winning role as Deirdre is Jayne Houdyshell. The underlying pain is precisely masked by good humor and sass. This behavior comes with a breaking point. I could have sworn I was listening to my mother tell stories about her day. Houdyshell doesn’t take any shit. She’s loving but refuses to be a doormat.

Richard Jenkins‘s performance is immaculate. Karam tapped into the plight of the middle-class white man. From working the same job for decades, sending his kids to college, and entering the next phase of life feeling like the rug has been pulled from underneath him. What you aren’t expecting is the PTSD aspect to loom so large. As someone who experienced 9/11 in college and was downtown two days prior, that day hits differently, more so if you lived through it here in Manhattan. That trauma is key to who Erik has become. It is part of his very essence. Jenkins’s physicality is a story unto itself. He is outstanding. 

The Humans is the perfect film to watch with your family. Its nuance will bowl you over. The Humans is timeless and completely relatable. It’s a snapshot of what kitchen tables have looked like for years. Do not overlook this one. 


RELEASE DATE: In Theaters November 24 and on Showtime


From writer/director Stephen Karam and starring Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, Amy Schumer, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun, and June Squibb.


TIFF 2021 review: ‘THE WHEEL’ is a raw portrait of devotion.

THE WHEEL

Synopsis: 

Albee and Walker, a young couple on the brink of divorce, rent a mountain getaway to save their fledgling marriage. Before long, their personal drama creates tension between their newly engaged AirBnB hosts — Ben & Carly — leaving us to wonder if either couples’ relationships will survive the weekend.


When you’re in love, real-world consequences and logic quickly fall by the wayside. Add in trauma to that sequence, and almost all bets are off. TIFF 2021 audiences got to ride an emotional rollercoaster, or perhaps, in this case, a literal Ferris Wheel. The film focuses on an attempt to repair the marriage of Albee and Walker. In doing so, Ben and Carly confront issues lurking within their impending nuptials. As secrets are revealed, reality comes knocking.

Nelson Lee, as Ben, gives us a slick, and a tad aloof, performance. He’s the backboard we need for Albee’s ceaseless attitude. Trent Atkinson‘s smart script allows Lee to play many sides of a perfectly flawed man. Bethany Anne Lind, as Carly, is the bright savior figure. Lind wears her heart on her sleeve in an attempt to get to the root of her guests’ issues. Perhaps, to her own relationship’s detriment. Amber Midthunder plays Albee with a fire that is accosting. Breaking through her wall is precarious and revealing. Midthunder walks a thin line between entitled Gen Zer and trauma survivor. You’ll be captivated by her interactions with every cast member. Taylor Gray breathes life into Walker. His vulnerability drives this story like a freight train. He’s so committed to making Albee and Walker’s relationship work. Their pain is palpable. Gray evokes a visceral response. I could not fathom someone being so unequivocally devoted to what appears to be a toxic relationship.

There’s an honesty to this script that will be a gut-punch for viewers. It will undoubtedly force you to confront your relationships. Atkinson wrote the characters of Albee and Ben to have more similarities than at first glance. He did the same with Carly and Walker, creating engrossing dynamics. There are some profound moments between these cast members. Their overall chemistry is the stuff of dreams. Ignoring all else in THE WHEEL, the final scene is one 10 plus minute take of raw emotion. It is the culmination of everything we think we know and we watch as Gray and Midthunder process those feelings in real-time. I hope people take notice of this feat. It’s a bold and beautiful choice by director Steve Pink. I think it pays off in spades as an extraordinary catharsis.


 

THE WHEEL — Directed by Steve Pink | Written by Trent Atkinson

Contemporary World Cinema — Acquisition

Produced by Amber Midthunder, Taylor Gray, Steve Pink, Josh Jason, Molly Gilula

Executive Produced by Josh Jason, Jeremy Hartman

Starring Amber Midthunder, Taylor Gray, Nelson Lee, Bethany Anne Lind, Kevin Pasdon


TIFF 2021 review: ‘ALL MY PUNY SORROWS’ is a soulful navigation of familial darkness.

ALL MY PUNY SORROWS

Based on the international best-selling novel by Miriam Toews, All My Puny Sorrows is the poignant story of two sisters-one a concert pianist obsessed with ending her life, the other, a writer, who in wrestling with this decision, makes profound discoveries about her herself.


Depression, religion, and feminism uniquely intersect in All My Puny Sorrows. Flooded with grief and emotion, two sisters are forced to confront their devastating past and come to terms with the inevitable future. Yoli is a writer steeped in her own perceived mediocrity and exists in the shadow of her renowned concert pianist sister. Elf has money, a supportive husband, and fame. Not yet recovered from their father’s suicide, she is determined to take her own life, with or without Yoli’s assistance. Two different paths emerge from the same childhood experiences. Is it too late to save each other?

Director Michael McGowan‘s screenplay pays full tribute to novelist Miriam Toews‘ original text by keeping these characters unapologetically demonstrative and smart. The film swiftly takes an ax to the patriarchal religious structure. That’s really the smallest part of deconstructing preconceived notions in this story. All My Puny Sorrows is about the reclamation of power and what that looks and feels like for each of the Von Riesen family members: dad included. Well-read audiences may connect on a different level. Ironically, the heavy literary aspect might also be the film’s downfall, with some viewers unable to discern between quotes and original dialogue. It will either win or lose audiences in its verbosity. I’m hoping that’s not the case, as those moments are akin to poetry.

Amybeth McNulty, who I adored as the titular character in Netflix’s Anna With an E, shows us a completely different side of her nature. She plays Yoli’s unfiltered teen daughter. She’s an exceptional scene partner for Alison Pill. Mare Winningham, as matriarch Lottie, is a spark plug. The no-nonsense, tongue-in-cheek way of communicating is refreshing and funny. Sarah Gadon, as Elf, is determined to convince Yoli to assist in her suicide. Gadon is soft, resolute, and somehow totally powerful. Alison Pill plays Yoli with the fierceness she deserves. She’s a writer with grand notions of rescue, and yet also a pragmatic understanding of the familial darkness. Her sporadic narration gives us insight into their Mennonite upbringing. Pill’s vulnerability and volatility make All My Puny Sorrows a massive success. The nuance of this performance is captivating. Gadon and Pill’s scenes are electric. There is a palpable sense of sadness and honesty in this film that will surely be a gut-punch for many. People will be talking about this one.


You can find out more about TIFF 2021 at

https://www.tiff.net/

Review: ‘Enemies of the State’ takes the courtroom drama into the digital age.

ENEMIES OF THE STATE

ENEMIES OF THE STATE is a documentary thriller that investigates the strange case of Matt DeHart, an alleged hacker and whistleblower, and his former Cold War spy parents who believe they are at the center of a government conspiracy and are ready to do anything to save their son from prison. This stranger-than-fiction story takes audiences on a wild ride of unexpected plot twists and bizarre discoveries in an artistic and cinematic documentary that blurs the line between reality and paranoia. With extraordinary access to all lead characters and key sources, this film presents many contradicting viewpoints as it attempts to solve a mystery that has kept attorneys, activists and journalists occupied for over a decade.


If an innocent man was sitting in front of you, would you even know it? This is a question I asked myself several times throughout Enemies of the State, Sonia Kennebeck’s propulsive new documentary. Years ago, movies made these kinds of questions easy on us: there’s that old western stereotype of the gunslinging hero wearing the white hat, staring down a villain dressed in black. These days, our digital lives have complicated that confrontation. In a world where stories of hackers, deep fakes, and police corruption flood the headlines, who can truly be trusted?

Enemies of the State’s subject is Matt DeHart. Through one lens he is an online activist, presumed hacker, whistleblower, and WikiLeaks courier. Through another, he is a convicted felon, guilty of soliciting child pornography from multiple victims. We will meet Matt’s supporters – family, friends, and online activists who all suggest these charges amount to little more than a government cover-up. We also see the case from law enforcement and hear the testimonials of the alleged victims. Who to believe?  This is Law and Order meets Mr. Robot.

In a film where nothing is certain, Kennebeck’s balanced direction is welcomed. Pains are taken to give equal air time to protagonists on each side of the conflict, to keep the viewer in check. I naturally found myself empathizing with DeHart’s family early in the film. In the immediate next scene, the camera lingers on the variety of medals on Detective Brett Kniss’ walls – as if to say, “You don’t want to believe this guy? He’s an Eagle Scout!”

I found the re-enactment scenes, featuring actors supported by authentic audio clips, robotic and less compelling. While robotic may indeed have been Kennebeck’s intention, sections in which the audio played simply over a black background were more resonant and unsettling.

Ultimately, the question of DeHart’s guilt or innocence depends on trust. Do you trust Matt’s family, his friends, or the FBI? Enemies of the State doesn’t take it easy on you – that answer is probably going to change a few times over the course of 103 minutes. I won’t give away where I landed – I’ll just say the image of the empty chair at the end of this film stuck with me long after the screen faded to black. Don’t understand? Just trust me.


In Theaters and On-Demand
July 30, 2021

Directed by: Sonia Kennebeck (National BirdUnited States vs. Reality Winner)
Produced by: Ines Hofmann Kanna, Sonia Kennebeck
Executive Produced by: Errol Morris


*OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2020 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL*
*OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2020 DOC NYC*

*OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2021 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL*


Review: Political allegory ‘The County’ milks it for all it’s worth.

presents

The County

After the global success of his Un Certain Regard winner RAMS, director Grímur Hákonarson returns to his native Iceland with another humanist farmland fable. Bitterly funny and deeply affecting, THE COUNTY plays out a timely political allegory against a jaw-dropping natural landscape, aided by a brainy, tenacious anti-heroine and Hákonarson’s dry Nordic humor.

Inja is left in the lurch with a nearly bankrupt dairy farm after the sudden and suspicious death of her husband. Under the thumb of the local Co-op, she discovers the shady dealings of those in charge and the effects on her fellow farmers. As she pushes back on social media, life gets more complicated. Inja becomes the Co-op’s target. Once our leading lady has had enough of patriarchal monopoly, her response is so satisfying you’ll be unable to repress a smirk. She must convince her neighbors there’s a better way than living in fear. The County is cinematically stunning. The script is brimming with unexpected moments. It’s one we can cheer for.

What I loved about this film was watching the tenacity of a woman pushed past the breaking point. Using wit and pure gumption, Inga helps a community that’s being taken advantage of. Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir‘s performance is out of this world. She is funny, powerful, gutsy, and yet completely vulnerable and grounded. The film doesn’t simply rely on the natural cinematic landscape but smartly uses its scope to tell this story. The script has a beautiful flow to it.  The ending is celebratory in a refreshing way. The County perfectly portrays the passion of a woman in her pursuit of doing what’s right.

THE COUNTY is written and directed by Grímur Hákonarson, and stars Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir, Sigurður Sigurjónsson, and Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson.

THE COUNTY opens in theatres and virtual cinemas nationwide Friday, April 30th, 2021.

Review: ‘Like A House On Fire’

LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE

Dara returns home to reconnect with her husband and her young daughter, whom she left two years earlier. When she arrives, she discovers that a woman who is seven months pregnant has taken her place and that her daughter no longer recognizes her. LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE tells the story of a woman’s struggle to regain the life she left behind.

It’s impossible to verbally express the complexities of Motherhood. It is a battle of extreme highs and lows. It arrives with ceaseless bouts of irrational fear and unsolicited advice. It is completely unpredictable. The singular constant is an innate, unconditional love you feel for another human being. Like A House On Fire is a film that engulfs the viewer all those emotional states at once.

Sarah Sutherland gives a nuanced performance as Dara. She is lost in guilt and confusion.  She is delicate and vulnerable. You will live in her anxiety. It radiates effortlessly from her pores. Writer/director Jesse Noah Klein affords Sutherland a coming-of-age story. It’s a breathtaking watch.

Like A House On Fire dives headfirst into fear, redemption, and self-actualization. With a quiet score, and intimate cinematography, including thoughtful close-ups, this film will burrow a hole into your heart. The script tackles forgiveness and cyclical parenting in smart ways. Everyone’s trauma is explored which is merely one of the shining aspects of this film. It’s the flaws that make the performances resonate. Like A House On Fire is an important film. It is your duty as an audience member to listen to Dara. This script can be a teachable moment.

LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE was written and directed by Jesse Noah Klein and was produced by Fanny Drew, Sarah Mannering, and William Woods.  The film stars Sarah Sutherland and Jared Abrahamson.  The film has a running time of 84 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA.

Game Theory Films will release LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE on March 30th on digital platforms including iTunes/Apple TV, Vimeo on Demand, and Amazon Direct.

For more information, go to: www.gametheoryfilms.com

Review: ‘DAVID’ is hilariously layered.

DAVID

David needs help. So does David.

If you tell me Will Ferrell is in it, I’ll watch it. If you say it also stars William Jackson Harper, umm, yeah I’m there. I’ve seen Ferrell in a few roles that require him to play the straight man. Stranger Than Fiction, Everything Must Go, and Winter Passing being the closest. Here he is tasked with portraying a therapist to a suicidal patient played by Harper. The two exchange incredibly powerful (if not brief) back and forth before they are interrupted by someone else in Ferrell’s life. Bursting into the session and causing nothing but chaos, three people trapped in a room against, perhaps, their better judgment, are simply trying to navigate boundaries and the consequences of crossing them. Harper is exactly what we need him to be here. He’s always solid with an ability to connect with a viewer. Ferrell is exceptional. He is charming and helpful and honest. The surprise performance comes from Fred Hechinger. His manic energy bursts off the screen and really wreaks physical and emotional havoc. It’s fantastic. The awkward dynamic writer/director Zach Woods places us in the middle of is comedy gold. But underneath is an honest message of love. This short will surprise you with its charm.

Cannes Film Festival – Short Film Competition 2020
Toronto International Film Festival – Official Competition 2020

USA / 2020 / 11 / Fiction

CAST
Therapist – Will Ferrell
David – William Jackson Harper
David – Fred Hechinger
Andy Doan – Corey Jantzen
Referee – Sebastian Vale

CREW
Director – Zach Woods
Screenplay – Brandon Gardner & Zach Woods
Production – Freestyle Picture Company, Ways & Means
Producers – Kevin Chinoy & Francesca Silvestri, Zach Woods, Andrew Porter
Cinematography – Andre Lascaris
Editing – Nick Paley

Review: ‘Girl With No Mouth’ has so much to say.

GIRL WITH NO MOUTH

In Girl With No Mouth, a group of children who suffer from deformities due to a toxic explosion, embark on an adventure in a war-torn post-apocalyptic region. The Turkish production comes from Can Evrenol, director of the successful TIFF Midnight Madness selection Baskin, and the horror film Housewife (currently available on Shudder).

This beautifully shot film tells the tale of a ragtag group of deformed children running from the evil Corporation responsible for their plight. Each is missing a key feature on their face, making for creative ways to communicate with one another. Captain finds Peri (our titular character) after she has fled her corrupt uncle’s clutches. With her father murdered and her uncle tracking her down to kill her, she escapes alongside her newfound friends. Captain is without eyes, Yusuf is missing his nose, and little Badger has no ears. This band of “Pirates” protects each other in search of sanctuary. Peace is coming, which means The Corporation must find any remaining children and destroy “the evidence” of wrongdoing.

Each child brings a different strength to their journey. Captain is a master tracker and relies on his heightened hearing to map. Peri uses science. Yusuf cooks and Badger scavenges. They happen upon an adult who is not a complete psychopath. The widow of the man responsible for all the agony caused by The Corporation. With her help and Peri’s engineering, can our group reach safety in time? The script is carefully crafted by director Can Evrenol and Kutay Ucun. There is undoubtedly a Peter Pan and The Lost Boys vibe to it. Add the tragic post-apocalyptic aspect and it goes from enchanting to unbelievably thrilling. You would never think this is the kind of film that would come from the director of Baskin. I’m so happy this film is now on people’s radars. I think it truly extraordinary.

This cast is outstanding. Their chemistry is pure magic. The film’s cinematography is simply stunning combined with a fantastic script, Girl With No Mouth is a captivating take of resilience and guts. You will be rooting for these kids. Their ingenuity and spirit are what hold you tightly to your seat. The finale strikes a gorgeous balance between heartbreaking and triumphant. Girl With No Mouth speaks volumes in a year where death and capitalism reign supreme. This film will have you cheering out loud at your screen. Do not sleep on this one.

 Girl With No Mouth is due to release on Blu-Ray, DVD and VOD across North America on December 8th via Indiecan Entertainment

 

INDIECAN ENTERTAINMENT focuses on independent, low-budget films. As a distributor, Avi Federgreen follows the same principle that earned him his reputation as a filmmaker; bringing audiences films they want to watch. Aside from the traditional distribution route, INDIECAN leans heavily on digital delivery. INDIECAN helps films find more opportunities with audiences through TV, Netflix, iTunes, websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. The jarvee provide the best tools to improve the growth of your social media platform.  INDIECAN’s vision is to not only support Canadian production but to encourage the viewing of quality independent films by North American audiences. Indiecanent.com

Review: ‘The Twentieth Century’ is a satirical feast for the eyes.

Aspiring young politician Mackenzie King (Dan Beirne) dreams of becoming the Prime Minister of Canada. But his romantic vacillation between a British soldier and a French nurse, exacerbated by a fetishistic obsession, may well bring about his downfall. In his quest for power, King must gratify the expectations of his imperious Mother, the hawkish fantasies of a war-mongering Governor-General, and the utopian idealism of a Québécois mystic before facing one, final test of leadership. Culminating in an epic battle between good and evil, King learns that disappointment may be the defining characteristic of the twentieth century!

If you are a cinephile with any sense of humor, The Twentieth Century will delight you to no end. It’s Monty Python meets golden era Hollywood musical mixed-media delicious. (It’s basically the most appropriate mouthful I can begin with… nudge, nudge, wink, wink) It’s the wackiest and most wonderful way to jump headlong into the holiday season in 2020. It’s easy to see why it won three Screen Canada Awards and jury accolades at TIFF and Berlin. Writer, director, and editor Matthew Rankin gifts us with one of the most unique and visually lush cinematic experiences. The attention to detail is flawless and the writing will bedazzle you. While I find the plot difficult to properly describe, that’s all the more reason to watch. I guarantee you have never seen anything akin to The Twentieth Century, ever.

The complete and total commitment from these actors is to be applauded. The laugh out loud absurdity of the dialogue fraught with overt sexual innuendo is pushed gleefully further with a large percentage of the cast being performers in drag. The scenery often consists of sharp-angled, backlit, triangular towers sometimes wrapped with black & white political iconography. I fully expected a Fred Astaire dance number but was too distracted by the fetish shaming and the nationalist propaganda. It simply goes from weird to completely batshit. Performances across the board are magic. Fun fact: The film is (loosely) based on a true story! What, what, what?! While I know zero about the dynamics of the Canadian government and identity, I can say that The Twentieth Century stands out from a line of great indie films that arrived on the scene this year. Even without the national connection, the story screams a global political familiarity in your face all while making you merrily cringe in fits of laughter. It’s one of a kind.

Arriving in Virtual Cinemas on November 20, 2020!
Runtime: 90 Minutes
English Language
Color
Not Rated
🏆 Winner of the Best Canadian First Feature Film Award at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival
🏆 Winner of Best Film at the 2019 Los Cabos International Film Festival
🏆 Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival
🏆🏆🏆 Nominated for eight Canadian Screen Awards and Winner of three

Review: ‘Entwined’ is a dark and intoxicating fairy tale.

Panos, a city doctor, relocates to a remote Greek village to offer his services to the underserved community. It’s love at first sight when he sees Danae, who lives in isolation and with a mysterious skin condition. Determined to cure her, Panos will soon discover Danae is not the helpless princess he thought she was, and time is of the essence for both of them.

With a haunting score, Entwined is often the most effective when you have you don’t know what’s happening. Danae keeps you under her spell with her childlike innocence and otherworldly dialogue. Is she a princess held captive and pure from outside influence? She is positively enchanting. For Panos, that’s precisely the problem. In his attempt to be her hero, he falls victim to the mystery in the forest. Speaking of the woods, they are an entire character in Entwined. As is the ever-burning fire in Danae’s isolated cabin. But is he truly trapped?

Performances are lovely. Anastasia Rafaella Konidi’s work lies somewhere between an 11-year-old girl and a centuries-old seductress. Prometheus Aleifer is everything we need him to be. He is brave, soft, and swept away by the mystery of this young woman. Director Minos Nikolakakis uses a mix of mythology and horror folklore to capture the audience. The cinematography and sound editing add to both the menace and beauty. Bravo to the makeup team for creating such horrifically beautiful pieces that cover Anastasia Rafaella Konidi‘s body. The script’s cyclical nature will both frustrate and fascinate, most likely as intended. Entwined is aptly named. This will become more apparent as you watch. While I was able to predict a major plot point, I did not mind it. The ending was a complete surprise. You, too, will fall under the spell of this irresistible film.

ENTWINED 

OPENING IN VIRTUAL THEATERS FRIDAY, AUGUST 28 WITH A NORTH AMERICAN VOD RELEASE TO FOLLOW ON SEPTEMBER 8 ON ALL MAJOR PLATFORMS.

VIRTUAL THEATERS (August 28)-Including: Los Angeles (Laemmle), New York (Alamo On Demand), Philadelphia (Philadelphia Film Society) and major cities.

VOD (US & Canada) (September 8): Including: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu,  Direct TV, Dish Network and all major cable providers.

*****Official Selection: Toronto International Film Festival and many more.******

DIRECTOR: Minos Nikolakakis

WRITTEN BY: Minos Nikolakakis, John De Holland

CAST: Prometheus Aleifer, Anastasia Rafaella Konidi and John De Holland 

Panos (Prometheus Aleifer), a city doctor, relocates his practice to a remote village and quickly falls for Danae (Anastasia Rafaella Konidi), who lives in isolation with a mysterious skin condition. Determined to find Danae a cure, Panos learns of her dark secret and that all is not what it seems.

RT: 89 minutes; Color; Language: Greek with English subtitles; Rating: Not Rated (Horror/ Fantasy)

Distributed in North America by: Dark Star Pictures

Review: ‘The Shadow of Violence’ in Theaters Only July 31st!

SYNOPSIS: In the dark underbelly of rural Ireland, ex-boxer Douglas “Arm” Armstrong (Cosmo Jarvis, Hunter Killer) has become a feared enforcer for the drug-dealing Devers family. When his ruthless employers order him to kill for the first time, his loyalties are tested in this powerful thriller costarring Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) and Ned Dennehy (“Peaky Blinders”).

ONLY IN THEATERS: July 31, 2020

Under the structure of a crime thriller, this film is truly a redemption story. After seeing Cosmo Jarvis in the leading role, I can no longer imagine any other actor owning this role with such a tender precision. His physical presence has an ominous feel but at the core, he’s a gentle giant with emotional, and perhaps physical, PTSD. While The Devers family uses Douglas’ strength and stature to intimidate, their psychological abuse of him is pervasive and perhaps more effective than any threat of physical harm.

Now for the story’s most gripping aspect; a father/son connection, or lack thereof. Douglas’ son Jack is on the spectrum. As a mother of a young boy also on the spectrum, this story grabbed me immediately. The juxtaposition of him and Jack cannot be ignored. The script highlights trauma and the feeling of inferiority. It is grounded writing and extraordinarily acted. The Shadow of Violence is a perfect title. The tense action scenes keep the heart pumping. Seriously, nothing short of gripping sequences. The success of the film ultimately lies in family dynamics and letting go of guilt. You will undoubtedly be touched by this story. We all want better for our children than we had for ourselves.

TITLE: THE SHADOW OF VIOLENCE

ONLY IN THEATERS: July 31, 2020

DIRECTOR: Nick Rowland

WRITER: Joe Murtagh

CAST: Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, Niamh Algar, Ned Dennehy

SYNOPSIS: In the dark underbelly of rural Ireland, ex-boxer Douglas “Arm” Armstrong (Cosmo Jarvis, Hunter Killer) has become a feared enforcer for the drug-dealing Devers family. When his ruthless employers order him to kill for the first time, his loyalties are tested in this powerful thriller costarring Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) and Ned Dennehy (“Peaky Blinders”).

RUN TIME: 101 minutes

RATING: R

GENRE: Thriller

DISTRIBUTOR: Saban Films