THE DEEP BLUE SEA
Terence Davies returns to directing with a poetic and brilliantly executed film about post-war Britain starring Rachel Weisz and Simon Russell Beale. With superb attention to detail, strong performances and an engaging soundtrack, The Deep Blue Sea is the perfect closing night film to this year’s original and broad programme.
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS
Marjane Satrapi, best known for her arresting and charming graphic novel Persepolis, which was also turned into a feature length movie, is back with Vincent Paronnaud as director for her latest graphic novel turned live action film Chicken with Plums. Staying true to the book’s expressive style, it promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s festival.
SARAH PALIN – YOU BETCHA!
Veteran documentary director Nick Broomfield turns his considerable filmmaking skills to republican politician Sarah Palin. With nods to his earlier films such as Tracking Down Maggie, Broomfield travels to Alaska where Palin started her political career. What follows is an intriguing portrait of a woman who is as opportunistic as her nemesis filmmaker.
THIS MUST BE THE PLACE
Cheyenne is an oddball, retired rock star who returns to America to face his father’s worsening illness. His journey turns out to be an offbeat road trip with the need to search for a sense of purpose. Paolo Sorrentino returns with this marvellous and hilarious movie, after the masterly Il Divo. Sean Penn plays Cheyenne in a truly outstanding performance. Not to be missed.
Andrea Arnold’s latest film Wuthering Heights is a radical adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Victorian classic. Radical, because not only are the actors unknown, but the lead playing Heathcliff is black, sparking a tale not just about obsession, desire and class, but also about race and sexuality and how these themes are linked. Beautifully shot and innovatively crafted, Arnold confirms her position as one of the best British filmmakers of our time.
SHOCK HEAD SOUL
Shock Head Soul is an original film from Simon Pummell, using animation, drama and documentary to weave together the story of Daniel Paul Schreber whose memoirs were published in 1903 entitled, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. Schreber was convinced that the only way to save the world was to be transformed into a woman. Pummell’s film is both arresting and insightful, and an interesting mix of reality and fiction, blurring the ever shifting boundaries of what a documentary or fiction film should be.
Andrew Haigh’s film tells the somewhat simple story of two men meeting over the course of a drunken night out and spending a weekend with each other, culminating in feelings much stronger than either of them could begin to expect. Haigh’s film promises to move and charm audiences alike, whilst also making acute observations about the contemporary British gay experience.
THE BLACK POWER MIX TAPE
A stunning documentary film set during and after the civil rights movement in the US, by Swedish filmmaker Goran Hugo Olsson. Olsson discovered reels of documentary footage in the Swedish national television archives surrounding the lives of black Americans, including extensive footage of The Black Panthers, The Nation of Islam, and interviews with figures such as Angela Davies and Stokely Carmichael. Set to a soulful soundtrack with a clear and relevant message about racism and the struggles of black people growing up in the US, this film could not come to the UK at a more important time. With the recent eventful riots in London, some of the issues in this film could literally be transported and applied in a shockingly similar way. This is important, timely and urgent viewing.
Dragonslayer promises to be one of the coolest films at the festival. Having already achieved best documentary at SXSW, Tristan Patterson’s documentary film follows the life of skater Josh (Skreech) Sandoval. An unhinged observation on skate culture and idle youth, Dragonslayer is an original indie film with the potential to achieve cult status.
THE SUN BEATEN PATH
The Sun Beaten Path is the debut film by ethnically Tibetan filmmaker Tony Rayns. His beautiful and thoughtful film tells the story of Nyma who is walking home over a long journey whilst accompanied by an older man who seems like he can’t leave him alone. A quest to find forgiveness and redemption, this film is a spiritual tale about a young man finding himself amidst the tragedies of the past. An inspirational choice for this year’s festival.