The 16th edition of Film Comment magazine’s annual festival is back with its customarily unpredictable blend of sublime wonders and hard-hitting visions. We’ve got the sublime covered by our Opening and Closing Night selections, a long-awaited must-see from Terence Davies and a revival of the late Chantal Akerman’s utterly delightful Golden Eighties. Among the hard-hitters is a pair of wrenching discoveries from Serbia and Iran and a harrowing yet serene vision of World War I by Damien Odoul, not to mention a two-film spotlight on Charles Bronson taking its cue from our November/December issue. Other revivals include a rare glimpse of Kinks’ singer-songwriter Ray Davies’s 1984 film (also featured in our November/December issue) and a sidebar of restored works by the Polish master Andrzej Żuławski, occasioned by the U.S. premiere of his new film, Comos. Add to that the latest from Benoît Jacquot, Hirokazu Kore-eda, and Alexei German Jr., and, well, what more could a right-thinking cinephile wish for?
Programmed by Gavin Smith.
The 16th edition of Film Comment magazine's annual festival is back with its customarily unpredictable blend of sublime wonders and hard-hitting visions. The sublime is covered by our Opening and Closing Night selections—Terence Davies’s long-awaited Sunset Song and a revival of the late Chantal Akerman’s Golden Eighties—and among the hard-hitters is a pair of wrenching discoveries from Serbia and Iran and a harrowing yet serene vision of World War I. Also featuring new films by Benoît Jacquot, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Alexei German Jr., a spotlight on Charles Bronson, and a sidebar of works by the Polish master Andrzej Żuławski.
Opening NightTerence Davies returns to the territory of hardship, brutal family life, and romantic loss in this story of a young woman who inherits the family farm in northern Scotland on the cusp of World War I. A deeply felt and emotionally devastating passion project for the director, with a wondrous central performance by Agyness Deyn in the lead role.
Closing Night · Chantal Akerman TributeTurning toward the pleasures of popular cinema in the 1980s, Chantal Akerman collaborated with the writer of Desperately Seeking Susan among others on this postmodern passion project, an utterly delightful multi-character musical set entirely in a shopping mall that looks at the romantic longings and tribulations of an assortment of store owners and workers.
From Italian master Marco Bellocchio, FIPRESCI prizewinner Blood of My Blood pairs two haunting stories from the past and the present, bound together by a convent prison. Amid painterly lensing and an expressive score, the film is a gothic, shrewdly comic, and, above all, mystifying tapestry that mines the complexities of Italian life.
U.S. PremiereLéa Sedoux shines as a resentful chambermaid faced with the iron rule of her high-handed provincial mistress, the groping advances of Monsieur, and her attraction to the brooding anti-Semitic gardener (Vincent Lindon) in Benoît Jacquot’s meaty adaptation of Octave Mirbeau’s 1900 novel.
U.S. PremiereSummer 1914. Imagining the war to be “a great spectacle not to be missed,” 19-year-old Gabriel volunteers for the French Army—and is soon engulfed in the horrors of trench warfare in this relentlessly physical depiction of the realities of life and death in the killing fields that earned director Damien Odoul the 2015 Prix Jean Vigo.
Q&A with Philippe GrandrieuxFilm Comment Selects favorite Philippe Grandrieux returns with his latest darkly erotic psychodrama, in which Lenz (newcomer Kristian Marr) searches for a mysteriously missing woman but tumbles into an amour fou with troubled, self-destructive Hélène (Ariane Labed), who seeks oblivion in the murky subterranean world of a brutal sex ring.
This update of The Wild Child for a grim new era won three prizes at last year’s Venice Film Festival. In late-’80s Yugoslavia, a feral boy running on all fours is brought in from the woods of central Bosnia, unable to walk or talk. Sent to a Belgrade orphanage, he slowly acquires the trappings of civilized behavior. But his fate takes a turn for the worse as the Bosnian war looms.
Q&A with Ross LipmanA “making-of” about the 1964 collaboration between Samuel Beckett, Buster Keaton, and director Alan Schneider on the short dialogue-free Film (also screening), Notfilm is an investigation of both the cinematic medium and the nature of human consciousness. Screening with: Film (Alan Schneider, 22m)
Delicate, graceful, and beautifully acted, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest exploration of family ties centers on three twentysomething sisters who take in their teenage half-sister after the death of their estranged father. Before long, the siblings’ unresolved feelings about being abandoned by their parents and the frustrations that burden their unfulfilled lives finally come into the open.
U.S. PremiereA wrenching drama about so-called honor killing, in which a family maintains a conspiracy of silence across several generations, haunted by the shared knowledge of the murder, Kianoush Ayyari’s fable-like exploration of the nature of complicity makes for a powerful commentary on life in Iran, and the structure and inner workings of totalitarianism itself.
This offbeat musical by songwriter and Kinks lead singer Ray Davies revisits the themes of his songs of modern discontent and nostalgia and features nine original Davies compositions, camerawork by Roger Deakins, and an early appearance by Tim Roth.
Aleksei German Jr.’s Berlinale prize winner is a visually stunning portrait of near-future Russia filmed in elaborate sequence shots that is, of course, also a meditation on today’s Russia: torn apart by delusions of grandeur, corruption, an unquestioning belief in authority, and a fatal passion for the past that goes hand in hand with an obsession with the future—making for an empty present.
This special live edition of The Film Comment Podcast will cover the art and craft behind the films of the moment, including a focus on Terence Davies—the director of the Film Comment Selects Opening Night selection Sunset Song—and the late lamented New Wave legend Jacques Rivette. The conversation will be moderated by the magazine’s editors and contributors.
Spotlight on Andrzej Żuławski
On the occasion of the U.S. premiere of his latest feature, Cosmos, we’re pleased to spotlight the work of legendary maverick director Andrzej Żuławski, featuring a selection of new digital restorations of his landmark Polish films, including his debut, The Third Part of the Night, and his towering film maudit, On the Silver Globe.
Restorations courtesy of the Polish Film Institute. Presented in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York, with additional support from the Polish Film Institute. Organized by Florence Almozini. Special thanks to Andrzej Żuławski; Paolo Branco, Alfama Films; Polish Cultural Institute New York; Polish Film Institute.
U.S. Premiere · Q&A with actor Jonathan Genet, composer Andrzej Korzyński, and film scholar Daniel BirdŻuławski’s first film in 15 years, which won him Best Director at Locarno, is a Witold Gombrowicz adaptation suffused with the director’s trademark freneticism as it follows a failed law student whose reality mutates into a whirlwind of tension, histrionics, foreboding omens, and surrealistic logic.
Q&A with composer Andrzej Korzynski & film scholar Daniel Bird; intro by camera operator Andrzej JaroszewiczA hellish tour of late 18th-century Poland and a meditation on the soul in the crucible of madness, Żuławski’s thoroughly unhinged period film tracks a murderous nobleman who is roped into a frenzied killing spree by a black-clad Satanic proxy.
Q&A with composer Andrzej Korzynski & film scholar Daniel BirdThe first feature by Żuławski, and one of the most remarkable directorial debuts of all time, draws on his father’s life in Nazi-occupied Poland to craft a delirious portrayal of the chaos wrought upon the psyche by the horrors of war.
Spotlight on Charles Bronson
This underrated thriller ranks among the highlights of Charles Bronson’s ’70s superstardom phase. Bronson plays a pilot hired to rescue a tycoon’s son (Robert Duvall) from a Mexican prison, aided by the imprisoned man’s wife (Jill Ireland) and an assortment of cohorts played by Randy Quaid, Sheree North, and Alan Vint. Featuring John Huston as Mr. Big.
The best from Charles Bronson’s European phase, this stylish, small-scale Hitchcockian thriller by the director of Purple Noon sees Bronson as a mysterious American playing cat and mouse with a young woman (Marlène Jobert) who has killed and disposed of the body of a man who raped her.
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