The Florida Project Cert 15
Best Director: 2018 London Critics Circle Film Awards
Director: Sean Baker
Cast: Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe
USA English 111 minutes
UK release date: Nov 2017
This film tells the story of a precocious six year-old and her ragtag group of friends whose summer break is filled with childhood wonder, possibility and a sense of adventure while the adults around them struggle with hard times.
“The Florida Project is a song of innocence and of experience” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“The Florida Project is one of the best films about childhood made anywhere in recent years” – Geofrey Macnab, The Independent
I Am Not A Witch cert 12A (subtitled)
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer: 2018 BAFTAs
Director: Rungano Nyoni
Cast: Maggie Mulubwa, Gloria Huwiler, Henry B.J. Phiri
Zambia English, Bemba subtitles 93 minutes
UK release date: Oct 2017
In a remote Zambian village, a nine-year-old girl is accused of being a witch and given a stark choice. Nyoni was apparently inspired by real-life reports of witchcraft accusations in Zambia. Yet for all its factual grounding, I Am Not a Witch is also a work of fairytale invention.
” [Rungano Nyoni’s] ability to blend cruel humour, pointed satire and empathetic anger to produce something touched by tragic transcendence is astonishing” – Mark Kermode, Observer
“…an extravagant flight of fancy that functions equally well as an anthropological curiosity, engrossing drama, feminist allegory, tart political satire and dire warning against xenophobia.” – Tara Brady, The Irish Times
Cold War (Zimna wojna) cert 15 (subtitled)
Best Director: 2018 Cannes Film Festival
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Cast: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot
Poland Polish subtitles 84 minutes
UK release date: Aug 2018
Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, two musicians of differing backgrounds and temperaments begin an almost impossible romance. Pawlikowski melds the personal with the political to exquisite effect. Filmed in black-and-white and set to a soundtrack that takes you from the rustic folk songs of rural Poland to the sultry jazz of a Paris basement bar, it’s a journey through a divided continent and an intriguing love story.
“Bittersweet and unbearably lovely, a sad ballad of two lovers who can’t stand to stay apart but also sometimes can’t stand each other either.” – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter
“A film made with a verve and lyricism which rekindles memories of the glory days of European New Wave cinema.” – Geofrey Macnab, The Independent
The Breadwinner cert 12A
Best Animated Feature: 2018 Annie Awards
Director: Nora Twomey
Cast: Animation – voices by Sara Chaudry, Soma Chhaya, Noorin Gulamgaus
Ireland/Canada/Luxembourg English 94 minutes
UK release date: May 2018
Set in Afghanistan in 2001. Parvana’s father is captured by the Taliban. The brave young girl sets off on a quest to rescue her father, having to disguise herself as a boy to support her family. This intense animated feature shows how danger and evil can be fought with courage and love.
“There is a salving streak of humour that softens this tale’s sharper edges, reminding us that – for children – laughter and bravery walk hand in hand.” – Mark Kermode, The Guardian
“It’s a rare perfect marriage of material and medium… it is moving and magical in equal measures.” – Ian Freer, Empire.
Leave No Trace cert PG
Grand Jury Prize: 2018 Boston Film Festival
Director : Debra Granik
Cast: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey
USA English 111 minutes
UK release date: Jun 2018
Debra Granik, who directed Winter’s Bone in 2010, returns with this film about Will and Tom, a grizzled army veteran and his 13-year-old daughter. Periodically, they amble into the city, and then return to their jungle. They are living a kind of radical Thoreau-guerrilla existence in a huge public park in Portland, Oregon until Tom carelessly allows herself to be spotted by a hiker and things take a turn for the worse.
“A deeply intelligent, complex, finely tuned and observed movie. It’s a movie that will live with me for a long time.” – Peter Bradshaw, Observer
“… alternately gripping and melancholic, but always shot through with the unmistakable ring of truth. The result is work of overwhelming, understated power that quite simply took my breath away.”- Mark Kermode, Guardian
Western cert 12A (subtitled)
Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize: 2018 Cannes Film Festival
Director: Valeska Grisebach
Cast: Meinhard Neumann, Reinhardt Wetrek, Syuleyman Alilov Letifov
Germany German, Bulgarian subtitles 121 minutes
UK release date: May 2017
A group of German construction workers find themselves with nothing to do in a remote Bulgarian village. As tensions mount between the workers and the villagers, rather than losing a gunfight, these proud men are more concerned about losing face. With the use of non-professional actors, a focus on character rather than showdowns and a wonderful setting, there is a very realistic feel to this film.
“Western is as precise as a dropped pin on a GPS map, which makes its sense of mystery all the more powerful.” – A.O. Scott, The NY Times
“There are no stagecoaches or six-shooters in this sharp, simmering drama of German-Bulgarian discord, but the spirit of John Ford graces it.” – Guy Lodge, Variety.
Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku) cert tba (subtitled)
Palme D’Or: Cannes Film Festival 2018
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Cast: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando
Japan Japanese subtitles 121 mins
UK release date: Nov 2018
A Tokyo family live in poverty and rely in large part on the grandmother’s pension. While shoplifting for groceries they discover a troubled homeless girl. They take her home, where the family observes evidence of abuse. Despite their strained finances, they informally adopt her and she begins to blossom.
“An outstanding domestic drama, crafted with crystalline insight and an unsparing emotional acuity… Shoplifters is compassionate, socially conscious filmmaking with a piercing intelligence that is pure Kore-eda. This is a film that steals in and snatches your heart.” – Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
“Hirokazu Kore-eda reinforces his status as a modern-day Ozu with another rich humanist drama.” – Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Faces Places (Visages, Villages) Cert 12A (subtitled)
Golden Eye (best documentary): 2017 Cannes Film Festival
Director: Agnes Varda and JR
Cast: Agnes Varda, JR, and many others
France French subtitles 94 mins
UK release date: Sep 2018
Director Agnes Varda and photographer/muralist JR journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship. Through chance encounters and prepared projects, they reach out to others, listening to them, photographing them, and sometimes putting them on posters.
“Faces Places is a film of sheer joy, its exuberance surpassed only by its tenderness and purity of purpose.” – Anne Hornaday, Washington Post.
“Sheer perfection – that’s the phrase that springs to mind when describing the humanist miracle that is Faces Places, the year’s best and most beguiling documentary.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.
Sweet Country Cert 15
Special Jury Prize, Venice Film Festival 2017
Director : Warwick Thornton
Cast: Hamilton Morris, Bryan Brown, Sam Neill
Australia English 113 mins
UK release date: Mar 2018
An Aboriginal man from Australia’s Northern Territory goes on the run after he kills a white man in self-defence. Uncompromising, deliberate, and eerily beautiful, director Warwick Thornton’s rugged Australian Western puts a new spin on an old story.
“Barbed observations on colonialism, cultural erasure and rough justice, kept poetically succinct by Thornton’s lithe, soaring visual storytelling.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“An Aussie western as stark, merciless and majestic as the Outback itself.” – Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
Foxtrot cert 15 (subtitled)
Palm Springs International Film Festival 2018: Winner Best Foreign Language Film
Director: Samuel Maoz
Cast: Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonaton Shiray
Israel, Hebrew, subtitles, 115 mins
UK release date: 1 March 2019
Michael and Dafna experience gut-wrenching grief when army officials show up at their home to announce the death of their son Jonathan. Michael becomes increasingly frustrated by overzealous mourning relatives and well-meaning army bureaucrats. While his sedated wife rests, Michael spirals into a whirlwind of anger only to experience one of life’s unfathomable twists – a twist that can only be rivaled by the surreal military experiences of his son.
“A film full of mystery and switchbacks is resolved in resounding style.“ – Ed Potton, (UK) Times.
“It’s an extraordinary film, far from easy, ultimately thoughtful and hard to forget.” – Paul Byrnes, Sydney Morning Herald.