The Denver Film Society announced the complete feature film lineup for the 41st Denver Film Festival, which runs October 31 – November 11.
Previously announced films that will be featured this year at the festival include “The Front Runner” starring Hugh Jackman, “The Favourite” starring Emma Stone, “The Upside” starring Bryan Cranston and “Vox Lux” starring Natalie Portman.
More recently, it was announced that “Roma,” a film by Academy Award winning director Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”) will have a presentation on November 10. “Roma” follows the life of Cleo, a young domestic worker for a family living in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. “Roma” will be shown in theaters and will be on Netflix in December.
“Roma is a modern masterpiece,” says Festival Director, Britta Erickson. “We are honored to present this film—in a special 4k presentation—in the full Festival lineup for DFF41, along with over 200 of the most compelling and powerful works of cinema from 2018. From the latest in American independent film, to riveting documentaries, to incredible selections from across the vast globe, DFF41 is an opportunity for everyone to find something that truly speaks to who they are as a film-loving audience.”
Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, October 12. Tickets will be available for purchase online at www.denverfilm.org or the DFF41 main box office location at the Sie FilmCenter (2510 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80206).
Festival Ticket Packages are currently on sale. The following packages offer the best discounted prices to attend the Festival.
3 FACES (SE ROKH) / dir. Jafar Panahi / Iran
When actress Behnaz Jafari receives a video of a teenage girl begging for her help before appearing to commit suicide, she and director Jafar Panahi (both playing themselves) embark on a road trip across Iran in hopes of locating the girl unharmed. The result: an enchanting meditation on freedom.
AFGHAN CYCLES / dir. Sarah Menzies / Afghanistan
Some heroes fly, others pedal. This stirring documentary profiles a group of young Afghan women who dare to ride bicycles against all odds—flying indeed in the face of a patriarchal society that continues to insist their place is in the home.
ALL SOUNDS CONSIDERED / dirs. Florence Müller, Goran Vejvoda / France/USA
Made by local filmmakers Goran Vejvoda and Florence Müller, this experimental documentary explores the states of sound and silence, inviting viewers to enter the world of contemporary sonic media with an open ear.
AMÉRICA / dirs. Erick Stoll, Chase Whiteside / USA
Jocular and wrenching by turns, this poignant documentary centers on the plight of a young circus performer in Mexico and his brothers as they put their dreams for life on hold to care for their grandmother, América—who at 93 has more life of her own in her than even advanced dementia can contain.
AMIR / dir. Nima Eghlima / Iran
Amir’s adult sister is determined to to break away from their parents, who are desperate to keep her home. His friend’s ex-wife is threatening to leave with their son. And somehow, Amir has become embroiled in both conflicts. But he faces his own problems in this slice-of-life drama from Iran.
THE ANGEL (EL ANGEL) / dir. Luis Ortega / Argentina/Spain
As unabashedly stylish as its subject purportedly was, this dramatization of the life and crimes of Argentinian robber and serial killer Carlos Robledo Puch (who remains in prison today) examines the perverse sway beauty can hold over our sense of morality. Pedro Almodóvar co-produced.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE / dir. John McPhail / UK/USA
Just in time for Christmas, the apocalypse has begun, and the undead are descending on the sleepy Scottish town of Little Haven. Now teenaged Anna and her friends must fight—not to mention sing and dance—to survive in this zany, candy-colored zombie holiday musical.
ANOTHER DAY OF LIFE (JESZCZE DZIEN ZYCIA) / dirs. Raul de la Fuente, Damian Nenow / Poland/Spain/Germany/Belgium/Hungary
Mixing documentary footage and animation to startling effect, this account of late Polish journalist Ryszard Kapu ci ski’s days on the front lines of the Angolan civil war in the 1970s is as enlightening with respect to a conflict few Americans today understand as it is heart-poundingly engrossing.
THE ARK OF DISPERATA (LA VITA IN COMUNE) / dir. Edoardo Winspeare / Italy
A crumbling village in southern Italy sets the stage for bumbling redemption in this comedy about a woebegone, poetry-loving mayor seeking to revitalize his community with the unlikely help of two would-be mobsters. Waking Ned Devine meets We Bought a Zoo.
AS NEEDED (QUANTO BASTA) / dir. Francesco Falaschi / Italy
This feel-good foodie flick from Italy sustains to the last bite. A kitchen maestro with a bad-boy past emerges from prison hoping to resume his career—but first he must complete his community service by chaperoning a cook with Asperger’s en route to the finals of a top competition.
ASH IS PUREST WHITE (JIANG HU ER NV) / dir. Jia Zhang-ke / China/France
Qiao is in love with Bin, a local mobster. During a fight between rival gangs, she fires a gun to protect him, which earns her five years in prison. Upon her release, she goes looking for Bin to pick up where they left off in this provocative tale of love in a rapidly changing China.
AT WAR (EN GUERRE) / dir. Stéphane Brizé / France
Despite record profits on the backs of their already-struggling labor pool, the managers of Perrin Industries plan to shut down a French factory that employs 1,100. This fiery portrayal of workers on strike puts viewers in the thick of the battle between the little guy and the powers that be.
AURORA BOREALIS (AURORA BOREALIS: ESZAKI FENY) / dir. Márta Mészáros / Hungary
In this thought-provoking drama from Hungary, Mária hovers between life and death when her daughter Olga discovers that her mother has a secret—a secret that takes them all the way back to the war. And we discover that—for families and nations alike—the future depends on our reckoning with the past.
BACK HOME (POWRÓT) / dir. Magdalena Łazarkiewicz / Poland
20-year-old Urszula has managed to escape from her pimp and return, beaten and bruised, to her home. But everyone in her conservative community—including her parents, siblings, and priest—seem determined to punish her sins both real and imagined in this grim study of a pious Polish town.
BATHTUBS OVER BROADWAY / dir. Dava Whisenant / USA
On assignment to scour bargain-bin vinyl for a Late Night with David Letterman segment, comedy writer Steve Young discovered a long-lost genre: the corporate musical. His fanboy obsession unfolds in this rollicking documentary, with appearances by Letterman, Martin Short, and Jello Biafra.
BECOMING ASTRID (UNGA ASTRID) / dir. Pernille Fischer Christensen / Sweden/Denmark
This charming biopic acquaints viewers with Swedish author Astrid Ericsson as a young adult—before she became Astrid Lindgren and created the flame-haired, supernaturally strong, and internationally beloved children’s-book character Pippi Longstocking.
BEHIND THE CURVE / dir. Daniel J. Clark / USA
At once highly entertaining and deeply unsettling, Daniel J. Clark’s journey into the center of the Flat Earth movement—where the conspiracy theory’s charismatic true believers dwell among the scientists who have a few choice words for them—couldn’t be timelier.
BEING FRANK: THE CHRIS SIEVEY STORY / dir. Steve Sullivan / UK
Meet the real-life oddball whose story inspired the 2014 black comedy Frank. Over the course of two decades, almost-famous musician turned provocateur in papier-mâché head Chris Sievey lost himself in the very performance art that garnered him a cult following. This is his tragicomic truth.
BEN IS BACK / dir. Peter Hedges / USA
Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges star with Courtney B. Vance in this emotionally complex, character-driven drama about a day in the life of a family surprised on Christmas Eve by the return from rehab of their 19-year-old son, an addict whose past—if it is past—continues to haunt them all.
BET ON REVENGE (KINCSEM) / dir. Gabor Herendi / Hungary
Which is sweeter—love or revenge? That’s the rub in this ripping Hungarian period drama about a dashing rake named Ern whose nemesis—a baron who killed Ern ’s father and usurped the family estate—is now his rival in a horse race. But will humiliating his foe meaning losing the baron’s daughter?
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM / dir. John Chester / USA
Hard lessons await John and Molly Chester as they leave Los Angeles to build a biodynamic farm amid the Ventura County foothills in this eloquent, exquisitely shot documentary, which stands a testament to the power of Mother Nature and the human spirit alike. And also to the awesomeness of pigs.
BIRDS OF PASSAGE (PÁJAROS DE VERANO) / dir. Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra / Colombia/Denmark/Mexico
This epic follow-up to Embrace of the Serpent (DFF38) depicts the origins of the Colombian drug trade. When an indigenous family begins selling marijuana to Americans in the 1970s, greed and passion collide and a fratricidal war breaks out, risking lives—and ancestral ways of life
BIRDS WITHOUT FEATHERS / dir. Wendy McColm / USA
Wendy McColm directs and stars in this poignant dark comedy about six misfits in desperate search of connection, including a would-be Instagram star, a stand-up with stage fright, a struggling self-help guru, and a Russian pesudo-cowboy obsessed with Jeff Goldblum.
BLACK MOTHER / dir. Khalik Allah / USA
Part cinematic baptism, part audiovisual love letter to Jamaica, this artistic and evocative documentary offers a collective portrait of the island’s inhabitants as they ruminate on their own lives, struggles, and feelings for their homeland.
BLOSSOM VALLEY (VIRÁGVÖLGY) / dir. László Csuja / Hungary
In this audacious, genre-bending road movie from Hungary, bored 20-year-old Bianka decides to steal a baby. Now she only needs a getaway plan and a willing father figure—whom she finds in Laci, a mentally disabled but gentle soul who’s determined to protect his newfound family on the run.
BORDER (GRÄNS) / dir. Ali Abbasi / Sweden/Denmark
In this grippingly surreal romantic thriller co-adapted by the author of Let the Right One In from his own work, deformed Tina’s uncanny sense of smell makes her popular at her job in customs—if nowhere else. Then she meets Vore. He’s the right one, but is letting him in dangerously wrong?
BOY ERASED / dir. Joel Edgerton / USA
Teenager Jared is the loving, dutiful son of a Baptist preacher (Russell Crowe) and an equally devout wife (Nicole Kidman)—until, that is, he’s outed and forced into a gay-conversion program in Joel Edgerton’s emotional adaptation of Garrard Conley’s namesake memoir.
BREAKING THE BEE / dir. Sam Rega / USA
This utterly enchanting documentary explores the two-decade sweep of the Scripps National Spelling Bee by Indian-American children on both the cultural and individual level: What drives these young phenoms, and what do their trials and triumphs reveal about the American democratic experiment?
BUDAPEST NOIR / dir. Eva Gardos / Hungary
The title says it all in this crime story from Hungary set in 1936, replete with dead ingenues, dead politicans, nefarious politicians, and a cynical reporter forced to navigate the seedy underbelly of the city to find out who’s standing between him and the truth—and why.
BURNING / dir. Chang-dong Lee / South Korea
In this slow-burning romantic thriller from South Korea (with nods to The Great Gatsby), an introvert’s frustrations are exacerbated by his entrance into a love triangle with a spirited young woman and her wealthy, mysterious boyfriend—only to come to a boil when she disappears.
THE BUTCHER, THE WHORE AND THE ONE-EYED MAN (A HENTES, A KURVA ÉS A FÉLSZEM) / dir. János Szász / Hungary
Budapest, 1925: A gruesome—and atrociously amateur—murder has been committed in cold blood. The players: a butcher, a prostitute, a husband, and a mysterious one-eyed man. The instigators: love, passion, carnal pleasure, money, betrayal. The aftermath: greedy and vengeful ineptitude.
THE BUTLER (KAMERDYNER) / dir. Filip Bajon / Poland
In this romantic epic from Polish director Filip Bajon, the shifting fortunes and steadfast passions of the von Krauss family unfold against a backdrop of world wars spanning five decades.
BUTTERFLIES (KELEBEKLER) / dir. Tolga Karaçelik / Turkey
From the chrysalis of a wacky road comedy emerges a butterfly of a family drama—beautifully fragile and strange—as three siblings return to the dusty Turkish village of their youth to reunite with a father they haven’t seen in decades. (These days their family nest contains some rare chickens.)
CALL HER GANDA / dir. PJ Raval / USA/Philippines
When a transgender Filipina is murdered by a U.S. Marine, three women—a lawyer, a journalist, and a grieving mother—take justice into their own hands. This fierce, piercingly emotional investigative exposé follows them as they challenge some of the most powerful institutions in the world.
CAM / dir. Daniel Goldhaber / USA
In this psychological thriller set in the world of Web porn, ambitious camgirl Alice (The Handmaid’s Tale’s Madeline Brewer) discovers she has a doppelgänger with similar ambitions—to replace Alice in her own life. A meditation on identity in the social-media age, penned by a former camgirl.
CANIBA / dir. Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel / France/Japan
Issei Sagawa murdered and cannibalized a woman in 1981, yet he’s been a free man for 32 years. Now old and infirm, he’s cared for by his brother Jun. This relentlessly close-up documentary reveals the nuances of their relationship—by turns competitive, deeply loving, resentful, and oddly paternal.
CAPERNAUM (CAPHARNAÜM) / dir. Nadine Labaki / Lebanon
After struggling to survive on the streets of Beirut, 12-year-old Zain sues his parents for giving birth to him in this blistering drama from Nadine Labaki (Caramel, DFF30), which explores poverty, abuse, and abandonment through the eyes of a distinctly un-childlike child.
CHAINED FOR LIFE / dir. Aaron Schimberg / USA
The Elephant Man meets The Player in this exhilaratingly strange yet moving meta-satire about two actors—one a starlet, the other a gentle soul with a severe facial deformity—exploring their roles and their lives together on the creepy hospital set of an exploitation-horror film.
THE CHARMER (CHARMØREN) / dir. Milad Alami / Denmark/Sweden
A dashing Iranian man proves willing to use all the tools at his disposal to secure permanent residence in Denmark. As his visa nears expiration, he desperately searches for a Danish wife in this intense and chilling drama.
CHILDREN OF MEN / dir. Alfonso Cuarón / USA/UK/Japan
Following this Sci Fi Film Series screening of Alfonso Cuarón’s dystopian classic starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore, Dr. Vincent Pitturro (MSU) and Dr. Nicole Garneau (DMNS) will lead a discussion to break down the science behind the scenes.
COLD WAR (ZIMNA WOJNA) / dir. Paweł Pawlikowski / Poland/France/UK
Wiktor and Zula meet amid the post-war ruins of Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia, and Paris in this lush romantic drama filmed entirely in black and white. Complicated by politics, their own character flaws, and tragic twists of fate, theirs is an impossible love story for impossible times.
CONVENTION / dir. AJ Schnack / USA
Grab your backstage pass and take a whirlwind, downright complicated ride behind the scenes of one of the largest and most important events in the history of not only Denver but the nation: the 2008 Democratic National Convention, from the buildup to the nomination of Barack Obama.
DAUGHTER OF MINE (FIGLIA MIA) / dir. Laura Bispuri / Italy/Germany/Switzerland
In this study of a familial rather than romantic love triangle set on the Italian island of Sardinia, 10-year-old Vittoria falls under the thrall of a charismatic but troubled young woman to whom she bears a striking resemblance—far more than she does to the mother who has so lovingly raised her.
DEAD PIGS / dir. Cathy Yan / China
Pork is the unifying force in modern China—at least according to this now-dark, now-off-the-wall comedy from writer/director Cathy Yan, in which five characters (including a rural pig farmer and a dubious American developer) collide in a contemporary Shanghai showdown.
DIANE / dir. Kent Jones / USA
Elderly Diane (Mary Kay Place) is aggressively selfless—she spends most of her time serving meals to the homeless and checking in on ill friends and family—but her exhausting routine is slowly revealed to be her penance for a long-ago transgression in this exquisitely solemn character study.
DIOR AND I / dir. Frédéric Tcheng / France
Get an exclusive look inside the high-pressure world of fashion circa 2013 as then-artistic director for Christian Dior, Raf Simons, creates his first haute couture collection for the iconic fashion house—with the considerable help of the seamstresses who realize his vision down to the last detail.
DOG (CHIEN) / dir. Samuel Benchetrit / France/Belgium
In this sharp-fanged French/Belgian tragicomedy, Jacques is stripped of everything: his job, his family, his home, and his new pet. Having already paid for training sessions and at a loss for answers, he decides to attend them himself—as the dog. You can’t help but sympathize as you squirm.
DOGMAN / dir. Matteo Garrone / Italy/France
In this dark crime drama from Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah, DFF31), gentle pet groomer and petty criminal Marcello has the wide, wet eyes of a spaniel, and like a dog, he’s eager for everyone to love him—from his teenage daughter to the local thug Simone. But how far will he go to keep the peace?
AN ELEPHANT SITTING STILL (DA XIANG XI DI ER ZUO) / dir. Hu Bo / China
Three troubled souls in a small Chinese town are united by the rumor of a nihilistic circus elephant in a city not far away. Over the course of a single day, they seek to escape their woes by making a pilgrimage to see their existential hero in this crushing indictment of contemporary society.
EMMA (IL COLORE NASCOSTO DELLE COSE) / dir. Silvio Soldini / Italy/Switzerland
In this bittersweet Italian romance, ad man Teo is a womanizing workaholic who has no intention of getting serious with Emma, the blind divorcée he’s nevertheless seducing. But the road to true love and heartbreak alike is paved with no intentions.
ETERNAL WINTER (ÖRÖK TÉL) / dir. Attila Szász / Hungary
In this Hungarian retelling of a true story, the lives of the prisoners in a 1940s Soviet labor camp have been reduced to coal mining and trying not to freeze to death, if only for the sake of their families. Admittedly, anguished Irén is finding warmth in a fellow internee’s arms for her own sake.
EUPHORIA (EUFORIA) / dir. Valeria Golino / Italy
Two brothers—one a flashy, drug-fueled marketing hot shot, the other a humble schoolteacher—come to terms with illness, death and one another amid the timeless splendor of Rome in director Valeria Golino’s moving and often funny family drama.
EVERYBODY KNOWS (TODOS LO SABEN) / dir. Asghar Farhadi / Spain/France/Italy
Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, and Ricardo Darín star in this suspenseful tale of love and betrayal, secrets and lies set during a wedding amid the vineyards of Spain. Two-time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, DFF34; The Salesman, DFF39) directs.
FALSE CONFESSIONS / dir. Katrine Philp / Denmark/Germany
Would you plead guilty to a crime you didn’t commit? Innocent people do it all the time—but one defense attorney is determined to fight unjust interrogation methods that elicit anything but the truth. This gutsy documentary follows her to examine the all-too-real consequences of false confessions.
THE FAVOURITE / dir. Yorgos Lanthimos / Ireland/UK/USA
Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Olivia Colman star in this period drama about three women with the fate of 18th-century England in their hands. Queen Anne is ill, but the war with the French must go on; enter Lady Sarah and her cousin Abigail, who have their own motives for royal servitude.
THE FIREFLIES ARE GONE (LA DISPARITION DES LUCIOLES) / dir. Sébastien Pilote / Canada
In this sweet coming-of-age story from Quebec, Léo defiantly refuses to think about her future—or at least to talk to the adults in her life about it. Between her prickly mother and mythic yet absent father, the only bright spot in her life is Steve—her underachieving, reclusive guitar teacher.
FRIDAY’S CHILD / dir. A.J. Edwards / USA
Tye Sheridan delivers a strong performance as an 18-year-old orphan who emerges from a group home ill-prepared for the world. Living in a dump and working nights in a construction yard, he stumbles on plenty of trouble—and a little love—in this gritty drama from writer/director A.J. Edwards.
THE FRONT RUNNER / dir. Jason Reitman / USA
Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, and J.K. Simmons star in Jason Reitman’s closely observed portrait of one of the headiest scandals of our time, foreshadowing our current predicament in political journalism: the news of the affair that brought Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential bid to an ignominious end.
GENERAL MAGIC / dir. Sarah Kerruish, Matthew Maude / USA/UK
From smartphones and touchscreens to e-commerce and emojis, the geniuses of General Magic invented it all. The only problem? They did it before most of us even knew what the Internet was. This fascinating documentary takes you behind the scenes of the world’s most successful failed company.
GENESIS (GENEZIS) / dir. Árpád Bogdán / Hungary
Inhumanity on the one hand, redemption on the other: That’s what’s at stake in this visually stunning Hungarian drama about the young Roma victim of a hate crime as well as the lawyer and the girlfriend of one of the suspects—both of whom have their own tragedies to contend with.
GHOSTBOX COWBOY / dir. John Maringouin / USA
The American Dream has been outsourced to Shenzhen, China, and a washed-up tech entrepreneur is there to live it, by hook or by crook—probably both—in this mesmerizingly off-kilter slice of cinéma vérité from John Maringouin (Running Stumbled, DFF29; Big River Man, DFF32).
GOOD LUCK / dir. Ben Russell / France/Germany
This visual gut punch of a documentary captures the hardships and, believe it or not, the hopes of workers at both a state-owned copper mine in Serbia and an illegal gold-mining operation in Suriname, putting a face on the human toll exacted by global economic turmoil.
THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA / dir. Donal Mosher, Michael Palmieri / USA
Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is home to two spectacles: passion plays and drag shows. This exuberant documentary explores the divide—and overlap—between Christian and civil liberties, faith of one kind and faith of another, as evangelicals and queens alike pull back the curtains on their lives.
THE GREAT PRETENDER / dir. Nathan Silver / USA
Regular fest guest Nathan Silver’s trademark knack for erasing the seams between life and art, truth and delusion is on wicked display here as in Actor Martinez (DFF39), as an autobiographical play becomes a stage for the cast and crew’s own romantic drama in five darkly funny acts.
GREEN BOOK / dir. Peter Farrelly / USA
Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali star in this period dramatic comedy, based on a true story, about a tough guy from the Bronx who becomes a chauffeur for a famous black pianist on tour in the segregated South. Thus begins a road trip that will open their eyes to truths both dark and golden.
HELL IS WHERE THE HOME IS / dir. Orson Oblowitz / USA
A quartet of friends heads to a remote desert retreat for the weekend, where they’re startled by a late-night knock at the door. The choice they make next sets the scene for the rest of this intense (and gory) thriller, in which no one is quite who they appear to be.
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK / dir. Barry Jenkins / USA
From the director of Moonlight, this adaptation of a James Baldwin novel deftly and deeply probes the dreams deferred of a young, pregnant Harlem bride-to-be whose modest hopes for the future are dashed by the imprisonment of her fiancé for a crime he didn’t commit.
THE IMAGE BOOK (LE LIVRE D’IMAGE) / dir. Jean-Luc Godard / Switzerland/France
Living film legend Jean-Luc Godard celebrates and deconstructs the moving image—in every sense of the phrase—with this montage of found footage, which he alternately manipulates and comments on both as such and as it relates to the real world, plumbing the paradoxical depths of surfaces.
IN A RELATIONSHIP / dir. Sam Boyd / USA
In what he calls a “deliberately simple story,” Sam Boyd’s debut rom-com examines 20-something love over the course of a Los Angeles summer, as two couples experience all the angst, insecurity, humor, and frustration of being in a relationship. Emma Roberts co-stars.
IN THE AISLES (IN DEN GÄNGEN) / dir. Thomas Stuber / Germany
In the Aisles unfolds as both a poignant romance and a deft sketch of modern-day, working-class Germany, where shy loner Christian yearns for the affection of the lovely but married Marion against the less-than-seductive backdrop of the warehouse supermarket in which they work.
INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT: THE STORY OF WAX TRAX! RECORDS / dir. Julia Nash / USA
Wax Trax! began in Denver, but it belongs to every child of the post-punk era. Pulsing with the energy of the bands it championed, including Ministry and Front 242, this engrossing documentary captures the meteoric rise and poignant fall of the Chicago record store and its namesake indie label.
INTO THE OKAVANGO / dir. Neil Gelinas / USA/Angola/Botswana/Namibia/South Africa
This gorgeous National Geographic documentary follows a scientific expedition in search of the source of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. During the four-month journey, the team encounters marauding hippos, peat bogs, minefields, and devastating bushfires that threaten the Delta’s survival.
THE INVISIBLES (DIE UNSICHTBAREN – WIR WOLLEN LEBEN) / dir. Claus Räfle / Germany
In 1943, Goebbels infamously declared Berlin “free of Jews.” He was off by about 1,700. This riveting docudrama weaves together the stories of four real-life survivors whose young lives depended on the paradox of hiding in plain sight—from posing as Aryans to joining the resistance.
JAN PALACH / dir. Robert Sedlácek / Czech Republic
On January 16, 1969, in Prague’s Wenceslas Square, student activist Jan Palach set himself on fire to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. This trenchant biopic covers the months of tumult leading up to his final, revolutionary cri de coeur.
JUMPMAN (PODBROSY) / dir. Ivan I. Tverdovskiy / Russia/Lithuania/Ireland/France
Due to a rare illness, abandoned child Denis is immune to physical pain—even the torments his fellow orphans inflict—until, that is, his mother turns up to “save” him from his plight. It’s out of the frying pan, into the fire in this tense drama from rising Russian talent Ivan Tverdovsky.
JUPITER’S MOON (JUPITER HOLDJA) / dir. Kornél Mundruczó / Hungary/Germany
When refugee Aryan is gravely injured in an attempt to flee his homeland, he inexplicably rises into the air, escaping the bloody chaos below to become an object of exploitation—and renewed faith—in this metaphysical Hungarian thriller.
LADYWORLD / dir. Amanda Kramer / USA
In this Lord of the Flies–inspired thriller, a birthday party devolves into chaos when a mysterious earthquake traps eight the teenage guests in the house. As paranoia takes hold and a survival-of-the-fittest mentality sets in, the girls face the limits of their friendship and their sanity.
THE LAST RACE / dir. Michael Dweck / USA
As much a poignant ode to community as it is a thrill ride, this documentary portrait of a small-town stock-car racetrack—and the blue-collar drivers who’ve formed a family there—also examines the impact of real-estate development on the lives we struggle to build beyond its reach.
LETO / dir. Kirill Serebrennikov / Russia
This loose biopic of two Soviet rockers—Zoopark’s Mike Naumenko and Kino’s Viktor Tsoi—is a moody black-and-white meditation on the Leningrad music scene in the early 1980s, whose rebels struggled to channel the mutinous spirit of Western punk under an acutely repressive system.
LITTLE WOODS / dir. Nia DaCosta / USA
For years, Ollie has helped the residents of Little Woods, North Dakota, gain illegal access to Canadian medication. When she’s caught and put on probation, she decides to go straight—only to face the ways in which her own family needs her illicit support in this haunting, hard-knocks drama.
LOVELING (BENZINHO) / dir. Gustavo Pizzi / Brazil/Uruguay
A mother’s love knows no bounds—and neither does her anxiety—in this heartfelt and humorous family drama about the oldest son of a close-knit but sometimes chaotic Brazilian family leaving the nest for opportunities overseas.
MARIA BY CALLAS / dir. Tom Volf / France
Through never-before-seen video footage, audio recordings, and other archival material, legendary opera singer Maria Callas tells her story in her own words—decades after her death. This transcendent portrait also captures Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Liz Taylor, and other leading lights of her era.
MEOW WOLF: ORIGIN STORY / dir. Morgan Capps, Jilann Spitzmiller / USA
Frankenstein’s monster takes many forms. Here’s the compelling inside story of Meow Wolf, the scrappy group of Santa Fe artists whose struggles to control their collective vision have only grown with the wild success of their large-scale exhibitions. With Game of Thrones’ George R.R. Martin.
METAMORPHOSIS / dir. Nova Ami, Velcrow Ripper / Canada
Could the global environmental crisis be an opportunity for enlightenment and change? This stunningly beautiful documentary aims to capture both the monumental havoc humankind has wreaked and our extraordinary capacity for redemption.
MR. SOUL! / dir. Melissa Haizlip / USA
In the post–civil rights era, the public-television variety show SOUL! celebrated black literature, music, and politics. Its host and producer, Ellis Haizlip, had his own story to tell. This intimate portrait of a charismatic soul also captures a critical moment in our cultural evolution.
NAPLES IN VEILS (NAPOLI VELATA) / dir. Ferzan Ozpetek / Italy
After her lover is murdered, Adriana starts to see him everywhere among the living—and this thriller, like the decadent and mysterious streets of Naples in which it’s set, begins to take unexpected turns. As the police investigation advances, Adriana’s own secrets can no longer be ignored.
NETIZENS / dir. Cynthia Lowen / USA
This punch-packing documentary delves into the experiences of three women whose lives have been transformed by online harassment—including Gamergate target Anita Sarkeesian—and the courageous battle they’re waging to show the Internet just what “social-justice warrior” really means.
NON-FICTION / dir. Olivier Assayas / France
Alain is a publisher struggling to adapt to the digital era while juggling a troublesome author and a stale marriage in Olivier Assayas’s voluble French romp, powered by the friction between what people talk about and what’s actually happening to them. Guillaume Canet and Juliette Binoche star.
NUMBER 37 / dir. Nosipho Dumisa / South Africa
Randall has got it rough in this South African thriller inspired by Rear Window: The recently crippled small-time criminal is confined to a wheelchair in his Cape Town apartment, and the violent loan shark he owes knows it. A pair of binoculars may prove to be his salvation—or his undoing.
OF FATHERS AND SONS / dir. Talal Derki / Germany/Syria/Lebanon
This remarkable documentary offers a chilling glimpse into the lives of a radical Islamist family at a universal turning point: adolescence. At their father’s bidding, brothers Osama, 13, and Ayman, 12, are being trained as Jihadi fighters. But how does that square with their dreams for the future?
OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR / dir. Richard Attenborough / UK
Richard Attenborough’s 1969 screen adaptation of playwright Charles Chilton’s 1963 World War I musical satire stars a who’s who of British thespians, including Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Susannah York, and Dirk Bogarde.
OLD BOYS / dir. Toby MacDonald / UK/Sweden
Cyrano de Bergerac goes to British boarding school in this charming update of the classic French comedy set in the 1980s, starring The End of the F***cking World’s Alex Lawther as an egghead who’s helping the handsome but dim-bulbed school hero to pursue a beautiful girl. Or is he?
ON HER SHOULDERS / dir. Alexandria Bombach / USA
Young Nadia Murad dreamed of opening a beauty salon in her native Iraq. Instead, she survived genocide, escaped sexual slavery, and became—at all of 23 years old—a voice for the Yazidi community, one known to UN dignitaries and encamped refugees alike. This is her extraordinary story.
ONE DAY (EGY NAP) / dir. Zsófia Szilágyi / Hungary
Anna spends her time working, ferrying her kids around, and suspecting her husband of having an affair. There’s also a broken sink pipe and that letter from the mortgage company…This unrelenting, blisteringly realistic drama from Hungary spans 36 hours in a day of her life.
PANIC ATTACK (ATAK PANIKI) / dir. Pawel Maslona / Poland
A woman encounters two exes in one night, a couple gets the worst seats on an airplane, a bride gives birth at her own wedding, and a teenager gets stoned for the first time in this Polish social satire disguised as a darkly humorous, multipart character study.
PERFECT / dir. Eddie Alcazar / USA
A young man with a violent past enters a mysterious clinic where’s he given the chance to transform himself, body and mind, via surgical implants. But they come at a great cost in this artsy sci-fi horror co-exec-produced by Steven Soderbergh, with music by Flying Lotus.
PHANTOM COWBOYS / dir. Daniel Patrick Carbone / USA
Over the span of eight years, this lyrical documentary follows three adolescent males in the California desert, the West Virginia woods, and the sugarcane fields of Florida, respectively, as they seek to discover what it means to be a boy, a man, and a human being in present-day America.
PIG (KHOOK) / dir. Mani Haghighi / Iran
Who’s Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? becomes Who’s Killing the Great Directors of Iran? in this outré comedy about a filmmaker beset, in his view, by treachery: His leading lady has strayed, his family’s patience with him has worn thin, and—worst of all—he hasn’t been murdered.
PITY / dir. Babis Makridis / Greece/Poland
The protagonist of this black-as-tar comedy from Greece is a man who feels happy only when he is unhappy—a man with a need for pity so bottomless that he’s willing to do anything to elicit it from others. Such is the absurd life of the Lawyer, for whom the world is not quite cruel enough.
THE PLACE / dir. Paolo Genovese / Italy
A nameless man sits in a diner each day, accepting visitors whose dreams he can make come true. To each, he assigns a task; upon its completion, he’ll grant their wishes. But to what lengths are they prepared to go? That’s the existential question at the heart of this Italian drama.
POSTCARDS FROM THE 48% / dir. David Nicholas Wilkinson / UK
Made by and featuring voters who elected to remain in the European Union, this enlightening documentary about Brexit explores why 48 percent of United Kingdom residents have continued their fight against the momentous decision—against all odds.
A PRIVATE WAR / dir. Matthew Heineman / USA/UK
Based on the true story of Marie Colvin, this electrifying drama stars Rosamund Pike as a passionate, (almost) death-defying war correspondent whose career took her to battlegrounds around the world—while taking a profound toll on her personal life. Jamie Dornan and Stanley Tucci co-star.
PROSPECT / dir. Zeek Earl, Chris Caldwell / USA/Canada
Damon and his daughter, Cee, mine gems on a toxic alien moon, but they’re not the only ones with hopes of striking it rich. Between the menacing competition and her father’s snowballing greed, Cee is forced into an uneasy alliance with a treacherous rival in this atmospheric sci-fi thriller.
RAFIKI / dir. Wanuri Kahiu / Kenya/South Africa/Germany/Netherlands/France
Teenage girls Kena and Ziki long for something more than marriage and motherhood; their ambition and independence unites them as they navigate conservative Kenyan society. But when their friendship blossoms into love, they know they will have to make hard choices in this moving coming-of-age drama.
THE RESCUE LIST / dir. Alyssa Fedele, Zachary Fink / Ghana
This engrossing exposé of child slavery hinges on a team of social workers in Ghana, whose efforts to rescue and rehabilitate young boys caught (sometimes literally) in the net of the Lake Volta fishing industry unfold as a disquisition on bravery, resilience, and the meaning of family.
ROLL RED ROLL / dir. Nancy Schwartzman / USA
This gripping documentary investigates the notorious 2012 rape case that brought the entire town of Steubenville, Ohio, to a standstill from which it has yet to emerge. Who protected—or failed to protect—whom and why? On that question, there’s more than enough heartbreaking blame to go around.
ROMA / dir. Alfonso Cuarón / USA
Celebrated auteur Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También) bases Mexico’s submission to the 2019 Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film loosely on his own childhood to craft a black-and-white, yet profoundly colorful, family saga–meets–slice of working-class life in 1970s Mexico City.
RUST (FERRUGEM) / dir. Aly Muritiba / Brazil
The budding relationship of teenagers Tati and Renet is derailed when a video of Tati having sex with her ex-boyfriend is leaked to their classmates. The consequences are dire in this wrenching Brazilian disquisition on coming of age in the digital era.
THE SAINT BERNARD SYNDICATE (SANKT BERNHARD SYNDIKATET) / dir. Mads Brügger / Denmark
In this fresh Danish comedy, director Mads Brügger delivers cinematic riches to everyone but his protagonists—two bumbling entrepreneurs who aim to bring “canine capitalism” to China by building Saint Bernard breeding centers in Chongqing. They expect great fortune; their cookies say otherwise.
SHOPLIFTERS (MANBIKI KAZOKU) / dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda / Japan
There’s honor among thieves. But there isn’t always justice. Renowned Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s piercing, fiercely tender portrayal of a poor but loving family of petty criminals scraping by on borrowed time won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
SIR / dir. Rohena Gera / India
Widowed domestic worker Ratna inhabits a tiny room in her employer’s home in Mumbai. Despite her growing—and mutual—attraction to heir Ashwin, both know the barriers between them are insurmountable in this tale of forbidden romance from India.
SOFIA / dir. Meryem Benm’Barek / France/Qatar
Premarital sex is a crime in Morocco. Sofia, 20, has committed it. When, after nine months of pregnancy denial, she gives birth, she’s forced to reckon with a patriarchal system that protects the semblance of honor over the real thing—and reckon with it she does in this sociorealist drama.
SORRY ANGEL (PLAIRE, AIMER ET COURIR VITE) / dir. Christophe Honoré / France
Jacques is trying to maintain his sense of humor despite the turmoil that surrounds him. Enter Arthur, a much younger man eager to escape his provincial life, who becomes smitten with him in this poignant snapshot of intergenerational cruising, courtship, and courage in 1993 Paris.
STYX / dir. Wolfgang Fischer / Germany/Austria
Rike needs a vacation. So the big-city paramedic sets out for Ascension Island on her yacht—only to hit a storm that lands her at the watery doorstep of a sinking refugee boat. In this timely, seat-gripping drama, she must help where the powers that be—the coast guard and Mother Nature alike—won’t.
SWIMMING WITH MEN / dir. Oliver Parker / UK
In this heartfelt dramatic comedy based on a true story, bored and possibly cuckolded accountant Eric (Rob Brydon, The Trip) is circling the drain of life—until, that is, he’s thrown a most-unexpected rope in the form of a synchronized swimming team for middle-aged males.
THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME (A CASI TUTTE BENE) / dir. Gabriele Muccino / Italy
In this stormy Italian drama, what begins as a polite family reunion on the Italian island of Ischia quickly becomes tense and then explosive as rough seas trap the guests under a single roof for the duration of the storm.
THE THIRD WIFE / dir. Ash Mayfair / Vietnam
May is just a child when she’s married to a wealthy man in this quiet, sensual, and beautiful drama set in 19th-century Vietnam. As her husband’s first two wives welcome her with open arms, she soon discovers the ties—and troubles—that bind women when their fertility determines their fortunes.
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING / dir. Tom Donahue / USA
In the midst of the #MeToo movement, this rallying cry of a documentary takes an urgent look at women’s roles in the entertainment biz, onscreen and off, from the perspective of some of today’s greatest talents—including Meryl Streep, Sandra Oh, Tiffany Haddish, exec producer Geena Davis, and more.
TYREL / dir. Sebastián Silva / USA
Being an outsider is awkward at best, scary at worst. Tyler isn’t new to the game, but his discomfort upon realizing that he’s the only black man at a weekend getaway of white guys (where being called by the wrong name is just the beginning) becomes ever more oppressive in this unsettling drama.
ULAM: MAIN DISH / dir. Alexandra Cuerdo / USA
The American restaurant industry can be cutthroat. It can also be uplifting. That goes double for chefs seeking to bring immigrant cuisines and cultures to the table. This stirring documentary follows the visionaries at the center of the new Filipino food movement, including Eggslut’s Alvin Cailan.
UNITED SKATES / dir. Tina Brown, Dyana Winkler / USA
One by one, the lights are dimming on the last remaining roller rinks in the United States—leaving a community of thousands in the dark. This documentary, by turns pumped-up and poignant, pulls you onto the floor to see—and into the struggle to save—what’s left of African-American skating culture.
THE UPSIDE / dir. Neil Burger / USA
Based on a true story, this buddy comedy starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, and Nicole Kidman chronicles the unlikely friendship between Phillip, a paralyzed Park Avenue billionaire, and ex-con Dell. They’re an odd couple if ever there was one—but they’re about to get a fresh start in life.
VIOLENCE VOYAGER / dir. Ujicha / Japan
Young Bobby and Akkun stumble upon an amusement park only to discover it’s run by a deranged scientist with a terrifying ulterior agenda. Though a marvel of gekimation—a type of animation involving paper dolls—this Japanese adventure is definitely not for kids.
VOX LUX / dir. Brady Corbet / USA
As teenagers, sisters Celeste and Eleanor survived a seismic tragedy; in making music about their experience, Celeste became a star. But now, as an adult (played by Natalie Portman) with a teenage daughter of her own, Celeste is struggling anew—faced once again with an act of terrifying violence.
WE ARE COLUMBINE / dir. Laura Farber / USA
After 20 years, the story of the Columbine High School massacre is as timely as ever—and for some of the former students who lived it, the pain as fresh. Directed by one of those alumni, this documentary sensitively examines their search for closure as well as the related issues today’s teens face.
WE ARE NOT DONE YET / dir. Sareen Hairabedian / USA
In this cathartic documentary by filmmaker Sareen Hairabedian, 10 U.S. military vets scarred by PTSD put their faith in the healing power of art as they prepare to stage a courageous live performance of collaborative poetry under the direction of renowned actor Jeffrey Wright.
THE WEIGHT OF WATER / dir. Michael Brown / USA
Erik Weihenmayer is blind. That hasn’t stopped him from climbing Mount Everest. And it’s not going to stop him from kayaking through the whitewater rapids of the Colorado River either. This sensitive documentary explores what it truly means to look fear square in the eye.
WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS / dir. Jon Kasbe / USA
As Kenya cracks down on the illegal ivory trade, poachers risk not only universal moral outrage but incarceration and even death. Why do they do it? This stunning documentary takes place on the front lines of wildlife conservation, bringing rangers and hunters alike into movingly sharp focus.
THE WHISKEY BANDIT (A VISZKIS) / dir. Nimród Antal / Hungary
Take a wild ride with the antihero of this thriller, based on a true story, about Attila Ambrus—a pro hockey player in Budapest who lived a double life as “the Robin Hood of the Eastern Bloc,” holding up some 29 banks in six years and garnering the adoration of the Hungarian public in the process.
THE WILD PEAR TREE (AHLAT AĞACI) / dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan / Turkey/France/Germany/Bulgaria
Returning home after college, a young man seeks to reconnect with his family and friends in this extended meditation of the inevitability of compromise and the shifting perspectives of age, Turkey’s selection for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Oscars.
WILDLIFE / dir. Paul Dano / USA
With co-writer Zoe Kazan, acclaimed actor Paul Dano makes a whopping directorial debut with this gorgeous adaptation of a Richard Ford novel, set in midcentury Montana, about a teenaged boy coming of age amid the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan star.
THE WOLF HOUSE (LA CASA LOBO) / dir. Cristóbal León, Joaquín Cociña / Chile
Banished from her home and pursued by a wolf, Maria finds shelter and relief in a home inhabited by pigs—but events quickly take a twisted turn in this Chilean fable made wondrous through stop-action animation, painstakingly crafted with paper, paint, tape, and other objects come to life.
WOMAN AT WAR (KONA FER Í STRIDÍÐ) / dir. Benedikt Erlingsson / Iceland/France/Ukraine
Complete with a Greek chorus of sorts, Icelandic filmmaker Benedikt Erlingsson’s supremely quirky follow-up to the acclaimed Of Horses and Men (DFF37) centers on an eco-saboteur whose mission to thwart the building of a new metal refinery is vexed by another quest: to become a mother.
WOMAN’S NAME (NOME DI DONNA) / dir. Marco Tullio Giordana / Italy
Single mother Nina is grateful to have secured a job at a local nursing home—until, that is, she becomes the victim of both her supervisor’s sexual advances and the resolute complicity of her co-workers, priest, and boyfriend in this intense and timely Italian drama.
THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET/ dir. Jeremy Workman / USA
For over six years, Matt Green has been on an unusual quest: to walk every block in New York City. To complete this 8,000-mile journey, he has left his job and his home, couch-surfing and spending pennies a day. Why? He’s still finding out as he turns the kaleidoscope of modern life step by step.
WRESTLE / dir. Suzannah Herbert, Lauren Belfer / USA
Hoop Dreams goes to the mat in this closely observed, deeply affecting coming-of-age-documentary about four members of a high-school wrestling team in Huntsville, Alabama, who—at the behest of their tough-love coach—face challenges far beyond a shot at the State Championship.