Yonkers Joe

Yonkers Joe tells the story of a dice hustler whose determination to make one last grab for a big score in Vegas is complicated by the reappearance of his estranged, mentally challenged son into his life.

Operator

Joe (Martin Starr) loves data. He tracks his diet and exercise, his mood and sex life – turning the information into beautiful charts that help him control his often overwhelming anxiety. At work Joe designs personalities for digital customer service voices, but his latest robo-agent for a client is a disaster. In a moment of inspiration he enlists his wife Emily (Mae Whitman) to serve as the template for the redesigned voice. The project goes well until Joe’s obsession with replicating his wife’s empathy threatens their marriage. [Synopsis courtesy of SXSW]

The Steps

A dysfunctional family’s reunion at a lake house in Northern Ontario descends into chaos in this ensemble comedy-drama from Canadian director Andrew Currie (Fido), starring James Brolin, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Christine Lahti and Jason Ritter. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]

Safelight

The paths of three desperate individuals perilously cross in a dusty desert town. Charles is a high school senior with physical challenges, Vickie is a troubled runaway turning tricks at a truck stop, and Skid is her dangerously psychotic pimp, who has a huge chip on his shoulder. He continuously harasses Charles and Vickie but things take a menacing turn when the two embark on a road trip up the California coast to photograph lighthouses. Skid can’t stand the imagined betrayal and comes looking to punish Vickie, armed with a hunting knife. The three of them face each other in a violent showdown that will change their lives forever.

Touched with Fire

Carla and Marco are manic-depressive poets whose art is fueled by their emotional extremes. When they go off their meds, they end up in the same psychiatric hospital. As the chemistry between them stirs up their emotions, it intensifies their mania. Despite doctors’ and parents’ attempts to separate them, they pursue their beautiful but destructive romance which swings them from fantastical manic highs to suicidal depressive lows, until they have to choose between sanity and love. [Synopsis courtesy of SXSW Film Festival]

Hateship Loveship

Johanna Parry (Kristen Wiig) is a profoundly shy, unadorned woman who is hired by Mr. McCauley (Nick Nolte) as a housekeeper and a primary caregiver to his granddaughter Sabitha (Hailee Steinfeld). Despite her outgoing nature, Sabitha carries wounds from the death of her mother years before, complicated by the circumstances of that death for which her grandfather still blames her father, Ken (Guy Pearce), a hapless recovering drug addict with a certain ragged charm. In an act of mean-spirited rebellion, Sabitha uses technology to foster a pseudo-relationship between Johanna and her father, never dreaming of the potential harm to either party. Sabitha doesn’t understand that Johanna is not a demure cut-out, but rather a woman for whom the phrase “still waters run deep” could have been coined. The young girl’s interference provokes Johanna to indulge in something long missing from her life: the dream of a future and a home of her own. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]

Petunia

The story of a family whose growth is stunted… a family that learns how to love themselves while loving each other (a little too much).