Returning for its 38th year, the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) runs Thursday, October 8 – Sunday, October 18, 2015, and here’s the early word on what’s to come: 11 days of films, panels and performances in Marin County.
This year’s lineup already boasts plenty of Oscar contenders, Cannes winners and Bay Area premieres. The full slate will be revealed on September 15, 2015. Here are the early titles announced thus far, many from Cannes (language courtesy of the festival):
Award-winning Italian Director Nanni Moretti’s MY MOTHER (Mia Madre), a semi-autobiographical family drama starring Moretti’s frequent muse Margherita Buy as a film director beset by personal trials, most notably her mother’s failing health and a lead actor (John Turturro) who can’t act or remember his lines. MY MOTHER teases with perception as the narrative moves between memory, dream, movie, and life.
Winner of the Grand Prix, SON OF SAUL is a debut film from Hungarian director László Nemes. A prisoner of Auschwitz in 1944 is forced to burn the corpses at the concentration camp, and finds among them the body of a boy he takes for his son.
Murder interrupts an intensely private man’s ordered world in director Radu Muntean’s (The Paper Will Be Blue, MVFF 2007) gripping drama ONE FLOOR BELOW. A central figure of Romanian New Wave cinema, Muntean builds the film’s tension masterfully in this deftly acted drama about a middle-class Romanian family.
Crafted from events in his mother’s life, master filmmaker Barbet Schroeder (Barfly, Reversal of Fortune, Single White Female) revisits his decades-long cinematic examination of moral culpability and the complexities of human nature in AMNESIA, a profound cross-generational exploration of historical memory and morality, set against the stark and spectacular Ibizan landscape.
Five beautiful sisters chafe under social and cultural strictures in the beautifully directed debut MUSTANG from Deniz Gamze Erguven. In a Turkish village situated along the Black Sea, Lale and her older siblings celebrate school’s end by frolicking in the sea with some male classmates. At home, their grandmother and uncle find nothing playful in this harmless activity and set about finding eligible bachelors to marry them. Though MUSTANG’s focus is delicate and intimate, its themes and ramifications are nothing short of revolutionary.
Winner of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard competition, RAMS is a touching and wry Scandinavian comedy that wittily portrays the connection between man and beast. Grimur Hakonarson’s second film, with breathtaking photography, sly humor and pathos, evinces a documentarian’s eye for the hardships and heartaches of rural farm life. From the put-upon sheepdog who serves as the protagonists’ only mode of communication to the desperate acts each man takes to save his sheep, RAMS offers an indelibly artful depiction of animal husbandry.
In 1952, Ousmene Sembene, a dockworker and fifth-grade dropout from Senegal, began dreaming an impossible dream; to become the storyteller for a new Africa. SEMBENE! tells the unbelievable true story of the ‘father of African cinema’, the self-taught novelist and filmmaker who fought, against enormous odds, a monumental, 50-year-long battle to give African stories to Africans.
Todd Haynes’ (Poison, Safe, Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven) British-American romantic drama CAROL stars Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara (tied for Best Actress at Cannes) and Kyle Chandler. This captivating, sensuous and richly observed film tells the story of a young shopgirl in the early 1950’s who falls for an older, married woman.
Screened in the Director’s Fortnight section, A PERFECT DAY from Spanish director Fernando León de Aranoa (Mondays in the Sun, Princesas), stars Benicio del Toro, Tim Robbins and Olga Kurylenko. This Balkan war comedy focuses on a group of aid workers call upon to resolve a crisis in an armed conflict zone.
Winner of the Palme d’Or, DHEEPAN is the latest film from celebrated director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust & Bone). Featuring novelist, and former Tamil Tiger child soldier Antonythasan Jesuthasan in a leading role, the story focuses on three Tamil refuges that have fled war-ravaged Sri Lanka in the hope of reconstructing their lives in France.
Mika Kaurismaki’s THE GIRL KING paints a portrait of the brilliant, extravagant Kristina of Sweden, queen from age six, who fights the conservative forces that are against her ideas to modernize Sweden and who have no tolerance for her awakening sexuality.