Tickets / membership at the door.
Wednesday 28 September – Sweet Bean
Dir: Naomi Kawase France, Germany, Japan 2015, 113 mins, Cert TBC
Starring: Kirin Kiki, Masatoshi Nagase, Kyara Uchida
A lonely baker has his life (and business) reinvigorated when he hires an elderly woman with an uncanny culinary skill and a mysterious communion with nature, in this graceful, quietly moving drama from Japan’s Naomi Kawase (The Mourning Forest, Still the Water).
Adapted from the novel by Durian Sukegawa, the new film by Naomi Kawase (who last appeared at the Festival in 2014 with Still the Water) is a graceful ode to the invisible essences of existence — to the beauty and joy we can discover once we learn to listen to nature and feel the life that is coursing through and all around us.
"An" is a delicious red bean paste, the sweet heart of the dorayaki pancakes that Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase) sells from his little bakery to a small but loyal clientele. Absorbed in sad memories and distant thoughts, Sentaro cooks with skill but without enthusiasm. When seventy-six-year-old Tokue (Kirin Kiki) responds to his ad for an assistant and cheerfully offers to work for a ridiculously low wage, Sentaro is skeptical about the eccentric old lady's ability to endure the long hours. But when she shows up early one morning and reveals to him the secret to the perfect an — listening to the stories of wind, sun and rain that the beans have to tell — Sentaro agrees to take her on, trusting her strange ability to connect with nature. With Tokue's new home-cooked an recipe, Sentaro's business begins to flourish — but along with her smiles and culinary skill, Tokue is afflicted with an illness that, once revealed, drives her into isolation once again.
Using cookery to explore her perennial theme of communion with nature, in Sweet Bean (An) Kawase also poignantly addresses the discrimination that condemns many like Tokue to live their lives segregated from the rest of society. Beautifully shot and quietly moving, Sweet Bean (An) is a humble masterpiece from a singularly accomplished filmmaker. – Giovanna Fulvi, Toronto International Film Festival 2015
Winner Audience Award Cork International Film Festival, 2015
Winner Audience Award São Paulo International Film Festival, 2015
Wednesday 12 October – Louder Than Bombs
Director: Joachim Trier, Norway, France, Denmark, 2015, 109 minutes, Cert: TBCStarring: Gabriel Byrne, Isabelle Huppert, Jesse Eisenberg, Devin Druid, Rachel Brosnahan, Ruby Jerins, Megan Ketch, David Strathairn, Amy Ryan
An aging schoolteacher (Gabriel Byrne) grappling with the recent death of his photojournalist wife (Isabelle Huppert) attempts to reconcile with his two very different sons (Jesse Eisenberg and Devin Druid), in the first English-language feature by acclaimed Norwegian director Joachim Trier (Reprise).
With his first English-language feature, Joachim Trier (whose previous films Reprise and Oslo, August 31 both played at the Festival) reconfirms his well-earned reputation as one of the finest young European directors to emerge in the past decade. Working with his co-writer and long-time collaborator Eskil Vogt, in Louder Than Bombs Trier expertly (and sometimes audaciously) shuttles between different timeframes and character perspectives as he investigates the dynamics of a troubled family.
Gene Reed (Gabriel Byrne) is an aging high-school teacher who, while grappling with the sudden death of his photojournalist wife Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert), is also experiencing difficulties connecting with his youngest son Conrad (Devin Druid), a painfully shy loner who finds his only outlet on the internet. When Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg), Gene's wunderkind eldest son — a promising young academic who has become an insufferably moralizing pedant — returns to the family home almost immediately after the birth of his first child, Gene seizes upon the opportunity to try and mend the rifts in the familial fabric. This last-chance bid for reconciliation is made all the more urgent by an upcoming, posthumous exhibition of Isabelle's work, which may lead to a public revelation of some of the Reeds' darker secrets.
Trier displays a truly novelistic sense of character and detail as he probes the fault lines of this singularly unhappy clan, and he also mines sly comedy from the generational gap between Gene and his sons. Powerful, memorable, and psychologically acute, Louder Than Bombs is both a lament for what has been lost and an affirmation of what remains. – Steve Gravestock, Toronto International Film Festival 2015
Wednesday 26 October – Youth
Dir: Paolo Sorrentino, Italy 2015, 118 mins Cert: TBC
Starring: Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, Jane Fonda
Retired composer and conductor Fred (Michael Caine) is taking treatments at a luxury Swiss spa, watched over by his daughter (Rachel Weisz). He’s there with his old friend Mick, a film director (Harvey Keitel) who, unlike Fred, doesn’t plan on giving up his career just yet. Both while away the time reminiscing about their young days and their past loves and, fully aware of their age, they have no illusions about the future. They observe the lives of dozens of colourful individuals whom they meet or simply glimpse passing by, and who compel them to reflect on youth and beauty.
Here, Paolo Sorrentino once again stages a “choral theatre of life,” where the motley characters surrounding the central figures each have a fundamental role to play – not as part of the almost nonexistent story, but as one of the constituents of the filmmaker’s design. This latter is stunningly rendered via image and music and, instead of a sense of decline and finality, the impression is more one of hope, reinforced by a wonderful and strongly emotive ending.
Sorrentino’s new film was considered one of the best works in this year’s Cannes competition but, like The Great Beauty (2013), it failed to win a prize.
– Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2015
Wednesday 9 November – My Name is Emily
Dir: Simon Fitzmaurice, Ireland 2015, 100 mins, Cert: TBC
Starring: Evanna Lynch, Michael Smiley, Martin McCann
Packed off to a foster home after her father is institutionalized, a rebellious young Irish girl resolves to bust her dad out of the hospital where he's been confined, in this spirited coming-of-age tale from celebrated memoirist and first-time feature director Simon Fitzmaurice.
The debut feature from Irish writer-director Simon Fitzmaurice is a spirited coming-of- age story that traces the journey of a strong-willed young woman as she weathers loss, upheaval, and rebirth.
"If you hide from death, you hide from life." Teenage Emily (Harry Potter's Evanna Lynch) inherits this mantra from her father Robert (Michael Smiley), an author and philosopher of sorts, whose lectures and writings encourage others to live for the moment at the expense of social niceties.
But following the tragic death of Emily's mother, Robert starts to change, and his visionary eccentricities now appear to be symptoms of mental illness. Robert is soon institutionalized, and Emily is sent away to live with foster parents and attend a school where everyone dismisses her as a weirdo — everyone, that is, except Arden (George Webster), an awkward but endearing classmate with family problems of his own.
When Emily suddenly decides to travel north to bust her father out of his psychiatric hospital, the hopelessly smitten Arden joins her on a renegade road trip that will give both youngsters their first taste of what it truly means to be alive.
Brimming with images of freedom, from the wide open road to the vast expanse of the sea, and buoyed by an arrestingly confident performance from Lynch, My Name is Emily will resonate with the young and young-at-heart alike. This is a stylish and assured film about self-discovery as an ongoing adventure. – Michele Maheux, Toronto International Film Festival 2015
Winner - Best Cinematography in an Irish Feature, Galway Film Fleadh 2015
Wednesday 23 November – Mustang
Dir: Deniz Gamze Ergüven France, Germany, Turkey, Qatar 2015, 97 mins, Cert: 15A
Starring: Günes Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan, Ilayda Akdogan
Five Turkish adolescent sisters have their basic freedoms unjustly stripped from them in director Deniz Gamze Erguven's understated feminist drama.
The word Mustang, which is also the evocative title of Turkish-French filmmaker Deniz Gamze Erguven's stirring first feature, conjures vivid images of bands of wild horses roaming the untamed American West, their manes flying and their defiant spirits resistant to being broken. Those qualities also fit the five young sisters in this intimate drama, whose independence and burgeoning sexuality prompt their alarmed guardians to sequester the girls in a systematic campaign to break their unity and tame them into traditional female roles.
The eloquent story's art house prospects will be helped by its stinging relevance in a world where young women across many backgrounds continue to be culturally repressed.
Unfolding in a remote Black Sea coastal village in northern Turkey, the film opens as the orphaned sisters begin their summer break. The youngest of them, Lale (Gunes Sensoy), shows a particular fondness for her female teacher (Bahar Karimoglu), who is returning to Istanbul. Giddy with the euphoria that accompanies the end of any kid's school term, the girls walk home along the rocky beach, splashing about in innocent horseplay with some male classmates. With their long dark hair and slender bodies, they look like beautiful fairytale nymphs as they clown around, later raiding a farmer's overgrown apple orchard.
But their cheerful energy turns to dismay as their strict grandmother (Nihal Koldas) ushers them into their house on a hill. Informed by a villager who saw them cavorting on the beach, she fears the girls' virtue and their marriage prospects have been tarnished. Her hysteria is fanned by the angry reaction of their Uncle Erol (Ayberk Pekcan), who is not above taking advantage of their supposed disgrace in the case of one of the girls. Despite the sisters' vehement denial of any wrongdoing, which is verified by medical examination, they are locked up behind closed doors. Potentially corrupting influences like phones and computers are removed, and they are outfitted in shapeless dung- colored frump dresses for rare outings in the village.
As Lale describes it in a voiceover, the house becomes a "wife factory." The girls are given instruction by local women in traditional cooking and homemaking as their grandmother sets the wheels in motion to arrange marriages for each of them, starting with the eldest, Sonay (Ilayda Akdogan).
There are mordant echoes here of the five Bennet daughters in Pride and Prejudice, whose mother's anxiousness to get them married off is a matter of financial rather than moral urgency. However, this is no comedy of manners. The more direct comparison is with the Lisbon sisters in The Virgin Suicides, but those doomed sirens become architects of their own isolation, almost as much as their overprotective parents.
Erguven and her co-screenwriter Alice Winocour (whose film Maryland screens in Un Certain Regard) are more interested in the girls' instinct for self-preservation as they strike back against their enforced captivity and the hurried plans being made for them. This binds them even closer together, at first in displays of harmless, often amusing rebellion and outspokenness, but gradually in spiraling desperation as some of them slide into numbed, even tragic acceptance. In an interview, Erguven referenced the multiheaded hydra creature from Greek mythology, and the film shows the steady weakening of the girls' collective force as each "head" is separated and subdued.
Shot in unfettered, naturalistic style in the atmospheric locations, Mustang has something of a frontier feel, an aspect nourished by the melancholy score of Warren Ellis, the Nick Cave collaborator known for his work on such unconventional Westerns as The Proposition and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. But Erguven's film is also a suspenseful if somewhat improbable prison-break movie (albeit one that eschews standard devices of the genre), in which the oppressive wardens believe they are acting in the best interests of their charges.
Only one of the five principals, Elit Iscan, has screen-acting experience, but all of them (the remaining two are Tugba Sunguroglu and Doga Doguslu) register strongly, both as individuals and as part of a tight-knit unit whose bone-deep allegiance no doubt was fortified by the loss of their parents.
What makes the transfixing film so effective is that the director refuses to portray them simplistically, as misunderstood angels, and she has enough trust in her audience to leave the drama's implicit feminism unstated. The story's quiet power comes from its sensitive observation of the characters as normal, emancipated young modern women, with healthy desires and curiosities, whose supposed transgressions are imagined and then magnified in the judgmental minds of others.
– David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
Winner Label Europa Cinema Cannes Film Festival 2015
Winner LUX Film Prize European Parliament 2015
Wednesday 7 December – The Measure of a Man
La Loi du marché
Dir: Stéphane Brizé, France 2015, 93 mins Cert: TBC
Starring: Vincent Lindon, Yves Ory, Karine de Mirbeck, Matthieu Schaller
International Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53dyUDeEVGw
Sometimes the lightest touch has the greatest impact. That is certainly the case in this deft, clean and very moving drama. The zero-sum game that is the "law of the market" (the French title)—wherein if one wants a job another must be let go—lies at the heart of Stéphane Brizé’s profoundly humanist and exceedingly timely film. Without blame or rancour it makes plain the often humiliating and soul-destroying choices foisted upon ordinary people just trying to make a living in today’s economic climate. Vincent Lindon is superb as Thierry, a mechanic who’s been unemployed for over a year and who has endured dashed hopes and constant rejection in his search for work. When he finally lands a job in security at a big-box supermarket, he is forced into situations where he must make decisions that go against everything he believes in... — Vancouver International Film Festival 2015
"A companion piece to the Dardenne brothers’ recent Two Days, One Night in its strong sense of labor and justice in an often unjust economy, Brizé’s sixth feature film... is [a] low-key but powerfully affecting social drama... [The director] draws a lead performance from frequent collaborator Vincent Lindon that is a veritable master class in understated humanism... Taking a page from the Dardennes, Brizé has also surrounded Lindon with an entire cast of non-professional performers playing lightly dramatized versions of themselves—a strategy that, to its great credit, will go unnoticed by most viewers, the venerable French leading man blending effortlessly into his surroundings..."—Scott Foundas, Variety
Winner – Best Actor, Cannes Film Festival 2015