This is the free version of our weekly newsletter. The premium version has 12 excellent recommendations, on top of these, of what to watch at festivals, virtual cinemas, VOD, and via streaming. We also spotlight several virtual film festivals worth catching worldwide, featuring films we love that have yet to secure distribution (so this may be your only chance to see them!).
In our premium newsletter for members this week, we recommend more virtual film festival screenings, plus additional VOD and streaming recommendations. If you become a member now, shoot us an email, and we'll be happy to send you these recommendations, too!
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If you're in Canada this weekend, don't miss your chance to catch up with Nadia, Butterfly for just 99c on iTunes. In the US, don't miss your chance to see the otherwise unavailable Videophobia. In the UK, you can catch the UK premiere of Orla's favourite IFFR film, Aristocrats, a female-directed Japanese film about class. Finally, wherever you are in the world, if you have a Mubi subscription, don't miss Ariane Labed's short film Olla, which leaves the service on Sunday night.
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Virtual film festivals
Chelthenham Film Festival - available across the UK
Aristocrats - May 30 until June 6 @ 6PM
Orla's favourite film from the IFFR this year has its UK streaming premiere this weekend!
Here's an excerpt from Orla's review;
“Tokyo’s compartmentalised. You only meet people within your class.” This casual comment, made by Hanako’s (Mugi Kadowaki) friend as they hang out by the city’s waterfront, is explored and challenged in Aristocrats (Anoko wa kizoku). What happens when people of different classes cross paths in class-conscious Tokyo? Yukiko Sode’s film, which is adapted from a book by Mariko Yamauchi, is particularly concerned with how class impacts women’s freedom. In Sode’s film, the higher a woman’s class, the loftier the expectations they have to live up to, and the fewer options available to them.
By following two female protagonists from different socio-economic backgrounds, Sode explores how their proximity to wealth impacts their agency and relationships. We meet Hanako in a taxi on her way to a family dinner. Hanako silently ignores her taxi driver as he chats about how he’s never been inside this restaurant before, despite driving many clients such as Hanako to its doors; immediately, Hanako is established as being on the upper echelon of society, at least compared to the driver. Yet when she arrives at the dinner, she seems unhappy. Her family chides her for being single — her fiance recently dumped her — and they insist she seek a new relationship as soon as possible. In the first section of the film, Hanako goes on a series of dates with terrible men, most of them matches made by her friends or family. She doesn’t seem happy about her dating life, and yet she persists, because it’s what’s expected of her.
Read the full review
Click here for tickets
Chicago Japan Film Collective - until June 1- across US
If you're in the US, don't miss the chance to catch up with this bizarre film that has no distributor but is worth seeing.
Here's Justine Smith on the film:
Building on a legacy of cinematic masks, the most iconic image in Daisuke Miyazaki’s Videophobia is of its young Korean-Japanese protagonist smoking by a window wearing a sheet-mask. It ripples slightly over her skin, but its dampness clings to the curves of her face, erasing her identity. Is this a way to improve her skin, to give it that dewy glow? Or, is she running from who she really is?
Videophobia is a techno-thriller about a young Korean-Japanese woman, Yu (Sumire Ashina), who becomes haunted by a video. Treated as a second-class citizen, she works to survive but barely seems to live. She meets a young man and goes back to his apartment where they have sex. Sitting across the room, she notices a camera sitting on a shelf, but pays it no notice. The sex is cold and mechanical, but as they hold hands, a real connection is born.
She soon finds a video of this encounter online. Although even she had to watch the video several times to recognize herself, the violation ruptures her already tenuous bond with her face and the world around her. She returns to the young man’s apartment, trying to find the source of the tape. From this point on in Videophobia, her grasp on reality fractures as she becomes increasingly paranoid.
Read the full interview.
Click here for tickets
Now on VOD
Nadia, Butterfly - 99c iTunes rental in Canada - until May 31
One of the best films of 2020 is available to rent this weekend for just 99c! The film is still seeking international distribution.
Here's an excerpt from my intro to my interview with director Pascal Plante:
With Nadia, Butterfly
, Québécois writer-director Pascal Plante aims to do for competitive swimming on screen what Fred Astaire once did for dancers in musicals: make it all real. Astaire pioneered filming dance scenes in wide shots with long takes so that you could see the dancers’ entire bodies and know that they were really doing it themselves. “It’s very clear that it’s Ginger and Fred who are dancing for their own pleasure,” Plante told me. “And then we see them act before and after and we’ve connected with them through their dance numbers. In many ways we treated those swimming scenes in the way those musical numbers are captured in those musicals.” The way Plante talks about shooting swimming reminded me of how filmmakers like Frederick Wiseman
and Alla Kovgan
talk about shooting dance, to make it real and present, so you can see what the dancers are actually doing.
Having spent his youth as a high level competitive swimmer, Plante wanted to actually show real swimming on screen and get it right. He didn’t want to use any camera tricks; he wanted people to understand what these athletic bodies look like and how they move. So he cast real Olympic swimmers as his two protagonists: Katerine Savard as Nadia, and Ariane Mainville as her best friend, Marie-Pierre. That also helped him to create a realistic imagining of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, based on their experiences at past Olympic games and behind-the-scenes footage he found of these events.
Read the full interview
Last chance streaming - until May 31 worldwide
Olla - Mubi
The directorial debut of actress Ariane Labed is great, and only streaming on Mubi for a few more days!
Here's an excerpt from Orla's intro to her interview with Labed:
At the beginning of Ariane Labed’s directorial debut, the short film Olla, the titular character (Romanna Lobach) emerges from a cloud of mist, dressed in a puffy purple coat, a mini-skirt, and loud high heels. While her name is Olla, she’ll soon be christened Lola by the man she moves in with in suburban France, Pierre (Grégoire Tachnakian), in his attempt to obscure her origins as an Eastern European immigrant. Because she enters and leaves the town lugging all her possessions in a suitcase, and because we learn hardly anything about her (we don’t even hear her speaking her native language), Olla feels like a mythical character who has emerged from nowhere.
Now a stranger in a town and a home she doesn’t know, Olla is surrounded by Pierre’s things, and she is expected to assimilate into his life, like a piece of furniture in his immaculately clean living room. But with Pierre away at work in the daytime, we observe Olla as she whiles away the hours: she explores the town and is catcalled by men in the street; she tries to navigate shopping even though she doesn’t speak the language; and she looks after Pierre’s mother (Jenny Bellay), who lives with Alzheimer’s. In one set piece, Olla strips down to her lingerie and dances around the living room, rubbing up on the doorways like they’re stripper poles. The scene is funny, but it also demonstrates that Olla has enormous physical stamina that makes her seem quite powerful, even though she must appear meek in front of Pierre to satisfy his desire to live with a subservient woman.
Read the full interview
As always, let us know what you watched and what you thought of them!
Alex Heeney, Editor-in-Chief
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