The hottest, coolest and most anticipated new films. The main selection of the festival.

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

It’s the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. The young detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), into the undercover investigation of a lifetime. Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group as the organization aims to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream. “BlacKkKlansman” is a furious, funny, blunt and brilliant confrontation with the truth. It’s an alarm clock ringing in the midst of a historical nightmare, and also a symphony, the rare piece of political popular art that works in all three dimensions. Spike Lee’s fearless embrace of contradiction gives “BlacKkKlansman” its velocity and heft. It is worth pausing to admire its
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Capernaum (2018)

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki delivers a powerful story about a 12 year-old boy who takes his parents to court. A gritty drama shot on the streets of Beirut with a cast of non-professional actors, Capernaum is a howl of protest against social injustice, a film as grounded in a place and time and yet as universal in its empathy with the dispossessed as Bicycle Thieves or Salaam Bombay! If viewers were expecting another gently barbed women’s comedy from Lebanese director Nadine Labaki (Caramel, 2007), it’s time to think again. Ostensibly, it’s about a young Beirut street kid who takes his parents to court for the crime of bringing him into the world. But within this largely symbolic framing device, the script raises a host of issues, from the invisible status of migrants living in conditions of virtual slavery to the way parents facing grinding poverty are forced to make bad
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This is Laura Bispuri’s sunswept, emotive, and elemental sophomore film, after her sensitive culture and gender exploration Sworn Virgin [HIFF 2015]. […] Daughter of Mine is a noble rarity, passionately involved in the exploration of oppositional ideas of motherhood not just as an abstract concept, but as a real and vivid, painfully sacrificial thing. “Wash between your toes, you always let it get so dirty in there,” says Tina (Valeria Golino) to her 10-year-old daughter Vittoria (Sara Casu). But when Vittoria parrots the line to [her biological mother] Angelica (Alba Rohrwacher) as she soaks the foot she wounded in a hangover-related stumble, Angelica replies airily, “Dirt goes everywhere anyway.” It is a neat summation of the different perspectives of the two women […]. Rohrwacher, in her second riveting role for Bispuri after Sworn Virgin, is a force of sea-salted, scudding-cloud, screwed-up nature […]. Golino, playing the straighter role, is more
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It is a part he was born to play, and he does it with exactly the right kind of poignantly ruined magnificence. Rupert Everett has written, directed and starred in this gripping drama about Oscar Wilde’s final years: his disgraced exile-agony in Naples and Paris on being released from prison after the conviction for “gross indecency”. This was the result of his indiscreet affair with Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, whose enraged, reactionary father, the Marquess of Queensberry, had provoked Wilde’s catastrophic libel action following an accusation of his “posing as a sodomite”. […] In Everett’s hands, the tale becomes an ambiguous parable for Wilde’s passion and (possible) redemption, the unhappy prince who makes a lonely discovery that love is the only thing worth worshipping. Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian Oscar Wilde goes to ruin in Rupert Everett’s debut feature as director. Everett also wrote and stars in the film, giving a
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Every Lars von Trier movie feels like a dare, but nothing to date reaches the level of The House That Jack Built, a 155-minute portrait of a serial killer that dares to spend the duration of that running time in the confines of his disturbed mind – and, by extension, the Danish filmmaker’s as well. […]The House That Jack Built is an often-horrifying, sadistic dive into a psychotic internal monologue, with intellectual detours about the nature of art in the world today […]. If you meet the work on those terms, or at least accept the challenge of wrestling with impeccable filmmaking that dances across moral barriers, it’s also possibly brilliant. Equal parts graphic midnight movie and discursive essay on the creative process, The House That Jack Built stars Matt Dillon as the titular antihero, and takes its cues from his version of the story. […] Dillon might have trouble
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M (2018)

A platinum blonde woman roams the streets of a deserted town by night with a certain uncertainty in her step. The hurrying figure appears alarmed and extremely fragile. There is a familiarity in how she attempts to find her bearings, although the woman’s face can barely be seen. A Mexican on a horse appears from out of nowhere. No words are spoken but the blonde mounts up and fades away into the dusk. Musician Anna Eriksson’s debut is a tour de force that dives into the viewer’s subconscious and pushes the boundaries of film as an art form. M was originally conceived as a video installation but grew into a feature. It is compiled from material shot over five years in Portugal, Mexico and Uusikaupunki by cinematographer Matti Pyykkö. Eriksson is behind almost everything else in her opus from its direction to the screenplay, editing and sound design. She acts
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“Would you let drug addicts throw parades for themselves?” asks a gay-conversion-camp counselor in The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a terrific new movie about an important issue. Her bludgeoned point is that homosexuality and substance abuse are both, in the counselor’s (Jennifer Ehle) mind, equally controllable sins. “No… No, you wouldn’t,” replies Cameron, a clever teen girl played by Chloë Grace Moretz. It’s a very funny moment in a movie that you’d expect to have exactly zero funny moments. Gay-conversion therapy, of course, is a serious, ongoing political hot button. But I was surprised to find Cameron Post a sweet indie film in the tradition of John Hughes. Calmly directed by Desiree Akhavan, the movie doesn’t get tangled in the weeds of politics, but instead focuses intensely on its lovely characters. Those special people – the campers and counselors, too – don’t wail in agony, or speechify about the system.
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[A Prayer Before Dawn is] the true story of British drug addict Billy Moore (Joe Cole), who found himself in a brutal Thai prison. Initially treated warily by his fellow inmates, he wins their respect – and maybe a chance of freedom – by becoming a kickboxer, and in the process learns there are alternatives to self-destruction. […] [A] superb film. Andrew Lowry, Empire Competition is stiff for the title of cinema’s most violently harrowing prison drama, and tougher still for the all-time most pummeling boxing movie. Gutsily, Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s A Prayer Before Dawn comes out fighting for both, landing a number of clear knockouts in the process. At once exhausting and astonishing, this no-holds-barred adaptation of British junkie-turned-pugilist Billy Moore’s Thai prison memoir is a big, bleeding feat of extreme cinema, given elevating human dimension by rising star Joe Cole’s ferociously physical lead performance. Guy Lodge, Variety This film
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Searching (2018)

The first thing people will always say about Searching is, “Oh, yeah, the film that’s completely set on a computer screen.” But if it were just that, it would be far from enough. Impressively, first-time filmmaker and former Google commercials creator Aneesh Chaganty has also made a real movie, the story of a family that morphs into a crime drama that gradually ratchets up the tension as all good thrillers must, one that’s well constructed and acted as well as novel in its storytelling techniques. […] Searching delivers dramatic satisfactions in addition to technical sophistication. […] [F]ortysomething David (John Cho) spends a great deal of his time online, and there is a certain comfort in this: Don’t we all? The familiarity of most of the places David inhabits online invites dramatic complicity, as does his desire to keep up with his beloved daughter [Margot, (Janel Parrish)]. But as the film
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Shoplifters (2018)

[A] family of thieves steals moral high ground – and hearts. [Shoplifters] is a movie made up of delicate brushstrokes: details, moments, looks and smiles. […], the story of a group of frightened, damaged people who have made common cause with each other, banded together under the flag of family, under the radar of the law, making the best of things from day to day, until they realise they have been making the worst of things. […] A rich, satisfying film. The Guardian/ Peter Bradshaw Palme d´Or winner is a thrilling, beautiful tale of Tokyo´s down-and-outs […]‚ crafted by Kore-eda with crystalline insight and an unsparing emotional acuity. Robbie Collins, The Telegraph It was one of the loveliest and emotionally enduring films in competition. Cate Blanchett/ Cannes Film Festival, Jury President Shoplifters, Kore-eda’s Palme d’Or winner, is an eloquent look at the human condition. […] [The family co-exists] mostly peacefully
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Sorry To Bother You (2018)

Boots Riley might have made his directorial debut with this summer’s wildest (and most radical) film, Sorry to Bother You. […] [ The film], a political satire tackling capitalism, racial politics, and the ins and outs of love, is part fantasy, part revolutionary manifesto, and part hallucinatory fever dream. Cady Lang, Time Nearly as deranged as it is politically engaged, Boots Riley’s sui generis Sorry to Bother You is the kind of debut feature that knocks your socks off, tickles your bare tootsies with goose feathers for a while, then goes all Kathy Bates in the final stretch, ultimately taking a sledgehammer to your kneecaps. The Oakland-based rapper isn’t waiting for permission to speak his piece, pioneering a new form of wildly inventive, highly confrontational satire that dares to question the system, pitting an immensely likable black actor (Lakeith Stanfield) against the fat-cat capitalists (represented here by a coked-out, sarong-wearing
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The message is right there, flat out, in Public Enemy’s title song: “You got to fight the power, fight the power, fight the powers that be.” And it reverberates through the movie — at times quite literally — rocking the Brooklyn streets. It rocks the theater audience, too, but this is a complex, multilayered movie, and the in-your-face attitude supplies only the movie’s powerful, thumping bass line. The story as a whole — the melody — is sweeter, mellower, and Lee orchestrates the mixture of elements masterfully, first letting one dominate, then the other. Lee puts a lot of stories, and a lot of characters, in motion here, and they ricochet off one another like billiard balls. There’s Mookie’s sister Jade (Lee’s real sister, Joie Lee), who’s tired of having his butt in her apartment; Da Mayor (Ossie Davis), a comradely drunk; Smiley (Roger Guenveur Smith), who stutters something not
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U – July 22 (2018)

Erik Poppe’s U – July 22 is a visceral, brutal, yet heartfelt and earnest movie, which imbibes the innocent bewilderment and horror of its young characters. On one unbroken camera take, it seeks to recreate the horrific mass murder of 69 defenceless teenagers in Norway in 2011 at a socialist youth summer camp at Utøya island outside Oslo. The heavily armed killer was a rightwing race-hate terrorist who had detonated a bomb in Oslo itself earlier in the day. Poppe’s camera situates itself among the nervous teens at the camp just by a forest and a lake – nervous, because they have just heard about the Oslo bombing and are earnestly discussing it. They are not, in fact, like those eerily unaware future victims of Paul Greengrass’s 9/11 drama United 93 or Gus Van Sant’s school shooting nightmare Elephant whose ordinary lives we see blankly unfolding at first as the
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The Wild Pear Tree is a gentle, humane, beautifully made and magnificently acted movie from the Turkish film-maker and former Palme winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan: garrulous, humorous and lugubrious in his unmistakable and very engaging style. It’s an unhurried, elegiac address to the idea of childhood and your home town – and how returning to both has a bittersweet savour. An ambitious, malcontent young graduate and would-be writer comes back to his rural village with a diploma but no job. […] The graduate is Sinan (Aydın Doğu Demirkol), who has come back with ambiguous feelings about the place where he grew up. As for so many writers, his home looks wonderful when he is away from it, when it is tamed and transformed by his imagination. […] His father is Idris, tremendously played by Murat Cemcir, a man whose youthful charm and romanticism has curdled with age into a pre-emptive
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Yardie (2018)

Actor/producer and part-time DJ Idris Elba now adds director to his resume with Yardie, an adaptation of Victor Headley’s 1992 novel about a young drug courier which begins on the mean streets of Kingston, Jamaica in 1973 and concludes on the even meaner backroads of East London in the 1980s. It’s an alluring, muscular debut soaked in authenticity in both its settings; attractive lead performances and cameos draw the viewer into a story which has a clearly intended significance in a modern London ridden by knife crime. […] [This is a nicely-shot, -cast and -told period story of black Britain – when so few exist […]. Charismatic lead actor Aml Ameen […] stakes his claim to stardom here. Ameen plays D (for Denis), a young boy […] first seen in the green countryside and bleached, dusty Kingston streets of Jamaica, 1973. With no parents in evidence, D relies on and
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Yomeddine (2018)

An Egyptian leper and his young orphan friend journey south in search of family in debuting director A.B. Shawky’s lovingly made road trip movie, Yomeddine. Anchored by lead Rady Gamal’s warm-hearted charisma, the film is a sweet, solid first feature marbled with genuinely touching moments […].Shawky […] shows a sure hand with his non-professional actors and, together with Argentinian cinematographer Federico Cesca, demonstrates a fine compositional eye. […] Beshay ([Rady] Gamal) […] lives in a leper colony, eking out a living with his donkey Harby by selling the salvageable trash he collects. Though abandoned at the colony as a child by his father, he’s had a better life than many, yet when his mentally ill wife, Ireny (Shoq Emara), dies, he decides to seek out his birth family […]. By the time he realizes his young friend Obama (Ahmed Abdelhafiz) has hidden himself in the donkey cart, it’s too late
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The Argentine auteur Lucrecia Martel’s first narrative film in nine years, Zama is a warped portrait of colonial power left to rot in the sun, a feverishly funny and surreal experience that mostly turns its nose up at narrative. The film is set in the late 18th century; [Diego de] Zama is the corregidor (colonial administrator) of some distant province […], but he craves a more splendid post. Every attempt to move away runs into procedural and bureaucratic bulwarks; travelers come from more prosperous, far-off places the viewer never sees. Zama is trapped, and as the film progresses his little fiefdom devolves further into disrepair. Martel’s movie benefits from not feeling lavish; for all the lush period details there’s nothing aspirational about the life depicted in Zama (a common trap for any satire about life atop a colonial empire). The film is too disorienting and queasy for that. Martel has
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