"An excellent, intelligent, and unfussily traditional documentary about a gifted artist who photographed many key 20th-century figures, including Mick Jagger, John Betjeman, Queen Elizabeth and Samuel Beckett. Now 89, a frail and lucid Bown reflects on her life… Others pay homage… and speak insightfully about aesthetics, technique, and the context of Bown’s work. Directors Luke Dodd and Michael Whyte’s austere filmmaking eminently suits the material…"—Guardian
What starts out as an engaging stroll among Britain’s so-called “best and brightest” takes a shocking, violent turn in this penetrating, provocative dissection of class entitlement (and the sexism and racism that goes with it). Intense and suspenseful, the latest from Lone Scherfig (An Education) also functions as an impressive showcase for a whole gallery of brilliant up and coming actors.
It’s always a pleasure to present VIFF favourite Phil Grabsky’s (In Search of Mozart, In Search of Beethoven) latest beautifully made, exquisite-sounding inquiry into the life and music of one of classical music’s great composers. Now it is the Polish maestro’s turn… "Grabsky has astutely woven together an indelible portrait, offering us a rich and personal insight into Chopin the man and his music."—Urban Cinefile
Almost two decades after “Common People” dominated the UK charts, beloved Britpop stars Pulp return to their unlikely industrial hometown of Sheffield to play one last gig. Florian Habicht commemorates the occasion by sharing Jarvis Cocker’s musings (he equates fame to a nut allergy), high-concept vignettes (a seniors’ choir sings “Help the Aged”) and footage of the epochal concert. “The live performances are electrifying…”—Observer
The 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Italy—and the arrest of her American flatmate, Amanda Knox—sparked a media circus. Michael Winterbottom revisits the case and explores what it’s like to be a filmmaker tackling a salacious story while struggling to retain your integrity. Daniel Brühl and Kate Beckinsale star in this investigation that dances in and out of the shadowy zone separating documentary and fiction, truth and lies.
As both Orange Juice frontman and a solo artist, Edwyn Collins had a way with words. Then, two debilitating strokes reduced his vocabulary to his wife’s name and the phrase “the possibilities are endless.” Documentarians James Hall and Edward Lovelace “immerse us in the experience… Their take on accident and recovery is romantic and terrifying, lush but insular. They dig beauty out of tragedy…”—Guardian
John Boorman’s (Point Blank, The General) gently comic follow-up to the Oscar-nominated Hope and Glory chronicles the travails of the director’s alter-ego, Bill (Callum Turner), a young man conscripted into the army with the prospect of the Korean War hanging over him. That he never gets further than a Home Counties barracks is just one of the ironies sprinkled over this richly allusive career-capper.
Lucy Walker’s affecting doc features Scottish actress Marianna Palka courageously confronting her risk of inheriting Huntington’s Disease.
Populated by gorgeous misfits and propelled by effervescent pop songs, this jubilant musical from Belle & Sebastian lynchpin Stuart Murdoch comically depicts a critical juncture for three Glaswegians when it seems they’ve no other option than starting a band. “It’s warm and generous… Even non-believers will acknowledge the film’s utter sincerity… It means what it says.”—Guardian. Winner, Special Jury Prize: Ensemble Acting, Sundance 2014.
UK, France, Germany
Acclaimed director Mike Leigh and perennially unsung actor Timothy Spall are at the heights of their considerable powers in this enthralling account of visionary J.M.W. Turner’s final years. "As successful in its tiny details as it is in its epic amplitude [it works] as a warts-and-all portrait of the painter and his circle, and as a large-scale evocation of Victorian England."—Screen. Winner, Best Actor, Cannes 2014.
UK, USA, France, Nigeria
Legendary Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer and political dissident Fela Kuti is brought to life in Oscar-winner Alex Gibney’s (Taxi to the Dark Side) stirring evocation of the man and his music. Mixing archival concert footage from the 70s and 80s, present-day interviews and behind-the-scenes documentation of the 2009 Broadway musical Fela!, Gibney’s kaleidoscopic film is as protean and rousing as Kuti himself was.
UK, USA, France
Bizarre circumstances makes reluctant bedfellows out of American con artist Chester (Viggo Mortensen) and Athens hustler Rydal (Oscar Isaac) in Hossein Amini’s absorbing 60s-set adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel. As they evade the authorities, Chester’s wife (Kirsten Dunst) finds herself torn between these seductive charlatans. “An elegantly pleasurable period thriller, a film of tidy precision and class.”—Telegraph
UK, Poland, Germany
The nomadic Badjao tribe are citizens of the sea, subsisting for centuries on the spoils of their compressor-diving expeditions. Eliza Kubarska‘s poetic documentary follows 10-year-old Sari as he sets out on his first fishing trip and is initiated into his people’s traditions and lore. "A mythological tale of wonder and water…"—DOX. Winner, Special Jury Prize: International Feature, Hot Docs 2014.
Wilhelm Sasnal—whose paintings hang in MOMA and Paris’ Pompidou—has a second life, alongside his wife Anka, as a director; their Parasite is a haunting, gorgeously made evocation of contemporary Polish alienation. Centred on a lonely old man and a troubled younger mother (with baby) who move in together, this formally daring work has both a rare immediacy and an aching sense of compassion.