The shocking premise of this Sundance-winning film is compelling. Director Massoud Bakhshi's second feature "Yalda, la Nuit du Pardon" ("Yalda, a Night For Forgiveness") shows a woman who must beg for forgiveness on live television or face the death penalty for the accidental murder of her much older husband. It has the hallmarks of a thrilling story, just rife for the big screen. But unfortunately, there was too much in here that was convoluted or contrived and the drama fizzled out as a result. Maryam (Sadaf Asgari) is the 26-year-old wife (temporary wife) who accidentally killed her 65-year-old husband during an argument.
Writer/director Caleb Johnson’s sophomore effort, "The Carnivores", has a lot of strong intrigue, allure, and character to entrance viewers into its strange story of how man’s best friend is dividing a couple and making one of them oddly obsessed with raw meat. The film follows Alice (Tallie Medel) and Brett (Lindsay Burdge) as they are divided by Brett’s dog Harvie as his illness is causing him to slowly die. Although Brett wants to spend every last second with him since she feels she has so much history with him, Alice feels like he’s ruining everything. With Brett pretty much being obsessed with Harvie, Alice is starting to feel left out and it’s causing a major rift in their intimacy and love for one another. However, after Alice’s sleepwalking and her issues with Harvie come to a head, Harvie goes missing and the two women begin to uncover strange, beautiful, and even horrifying parts of one another.
“Hava, Maryam, Ayesha” is a film about the everyday struggles of three Afghan women – specifically in relation to patriarchy, marriage and pregnancy – directed and co-written by fellow Afghan woman Sahraa Karimi. In its opening section, focusing on Hava (played by Arezoo Ariapoor), the film makes its focus on the everyday very clear with a documentary-like realism. A frequently handheld camera that shows the routines and chores Hava spends her days performing in full, unbroken takes. Her laboured, exhausted breathing makes up a large part of the film’s soundscape in this segment as she is belittled by the men around her and treated like a disrespected employee rather than a family member.
“Make Up” is the feature debut for English writer/director Claire Oakley. A horror/drama film about a teenage girl tangling with her own emotions and relationships in a Cornish caravan park as surreal occurrences start to untangle her sense of reality. The film starts very promisingly, as protagonist Ruth (played by Molly Windsor) arrives at the caravan park in the middle of the night. The film starts building a surreal atmosphere early, as many of the side characters speak in slightly odd, unnatural dialogue in a way that feels intentional. Wide shots and lateral tracks are frequently used to add to this unsettling air as Ruth starts to believe that her boyfriend Tom (Joseph Quinn) is cheating on her.
The person introducing “Two of Us” (aka “Deux”) to audiences at the Glasgow Film Festival made sure to note the film’s confident filmmaking from feature debut writer/director Filippo Meneghetti. This was an incredibly accurate assessment. The film’s extensive use of Spielbergian oners and dramatic push-ins is emblematic of a creator with full control of their toolbox of cinematic tricks without feeling the need to over-indulge or show-off. Meneghetti deftly uses restraint to create intrigue and suspense in this small, personal story. But key to making this film as engaging as it is are the lead performances of Barbara Sukowa and Martine Chevallier who perfectly play their roles as an elderly queer couple kept apart by tragic circumstance and the bigotry of those around them.
Edinburgh based writer/director Eva Reilly has made a compassionate coming-of-age story that brims with legitimacy with her debut feature, “Perfect 10” (2019). A Brighton-set feature that recalls such films as Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank” (2009), this is a confident start to a filmmaking career. It displays natural talent and an abundance of promise for growth, for the director and main star alike. Paralleling Reilly’s debut is star Frankie Box giving her first feature performance. She plays Leigh, a gifted teenage gymnast who is suffering. Her passion for sport has slowly dissipated, drained bit by bit by a broken, neglectful home life and the other gymnasts referring to her as a “charity case”. One day, an older boy named Joe (Alfie Deegan) enters her home and reveals that they are half-siblings. This unexpected development drastically changes Leigh’s life for better and for worse.
Year: 2019 Runtime: 97 Minutes Director: Antoneta Kastrati Writers: Casey Cooper Johnson, Antoneta Kastrati Stars: Adriana Matoshi, Astrit Kabashi, Fatmire Sahiti By Calum Cooper The Kosovan drama “Zana” (2019) is an utterly devastating watch. It is a film that intertwines the past and present to categorically display the long term effects of trauma with blistering... Continue Reading →
Year: 2020 Runtime: 90 minutes Director: Matt Riddlehoover Stars: Rosanne Cash, Cindy Cash, Tara Cash, Kathy Cash By Mique Watson History is replete with stories of the silent women behind their rich, famous husbands; mere specters looming in the background. Likewise, innumerable stories of this sort have been widely ignored--here, we offered remuneration for one.... Continue Reading →
With her third feature film, "I’ll Meet You There", writer/director Iram Parveem Bilal crafts an intriguing and enlightening Pakistani story centered on a universal cultural struggle that’s boasted by strong performances. The film follows Majeed (Faran Tahir), a Muslim Chicago police officer, and his daughter Dua (Nikita Tewani), an aspiring dancer, as they are greeted with the unexpected arrival of Majeed’s more traditional father Baba (Qavi Khan). While Majeed and Dua have become more enveloped into American culture, Baba’s presence makes them experience a culture that in Dua’s case she doesn’t know and Majeed’s case that he tries to forget.