Seventh Row

Pebbles, Fabian: Going to the Dogs, Mouthpiece, and more to watch this weekend

published23 days ago
8 min read

Hello there,

This is the free version of our weekly newsletter. The premium version has 17 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, virtual cinema, 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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It's another busy week for virtual film festivals in Canada and the US. Catch up with some of the best films of the year, including Pebbles and Fabian: Going to the Dogs.

Meanwhile, you can now catch Anne at 13,000 ft in virtual cinemas in Canada/US and on Mubi in Europe/UK. Plus, now streaming in Canada/US/UK/Ireland.

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Virtual film festivals

Pebbles - across the US - until Oct 5

One of the best films from the Rotterdam Film Festival (IFFR) is the Indian award-winner Pebbles, screening this week in the US. It has yet to secure distribution so this could be one of your only chances to catch it.

A boy stands in a vast, dry landscape in Pebbles, one of the best films of IFFR 2021.

Here's Kanika Katyal on the film when it screened at IFFR:

Vexed father Ganapathy (Karuththadaiyaan) is determined to bring back his wife and daughter, who have fled home to escape his violence, in P.S. Vinothraj’s Koozhangal (Pebbles). Ganapathy forces his son to come with him to fetch them, and together, they undertake a 13km journey into the heart of a village experiencing a major drought.

Pebbles is a road movie without frills; “a father-son odyssey without designs of grandeur,” as I wrote in my review for Cinespotting. We see them walking through wide expanses of arid land, past leafless vegetation and boulders in the desert. The village of Arittapatti, near Madurai in Tamil Nadu, in which the film is set, is an agricultural land that’s turned barren. Through glimpses into women’s huts and men’s gambling dens, we see the dismal state of the inhabitants,who have been robbed of their livelihood.

For over a year, Vinothraj lived in the village to familiarize himself with the location, and his knowledge of the area shows. We are not told about the pervasive hunger or water scarcity through dialogue, but shown it through patient scenes of everyday process. In one scene, an old woman draws out groundwater from a scanty puddle, slowly filling one mug after another. Initially, we assume that her extreme poverty is an anomaly, until the camera zooms out into a wide-shot to show a half-dozen women waiting in a queue to fill their pots.

Vinothraj impressively captures the beauty and radiance in the seemingly humble and mundane. Vinothraj includes poetic images of a balloon fluttering in a bus, the clinking of a young girl’s anklets, an austere mother tending to her child, a young girl smiling in a shower of dry leaves, and even an adorable puppy playing on the street. Like a mystic, Vinothraj works with contrasting energies, making miracles of nothingness.

Click here for tickets in the US.

Vancouver International Film Festival - across Canada (a few BC only titles) - until Oct 11

The program for VIFF is fantastic and most of it is available across Canada. If you think you can pack in 8 films in the next 10 days, the VIFF Connect Pass is a steal at $80 for unlimited films, and will give you access to films that are currently sold out online (there's a special allotment for passholders). Indidivual tickets are reasonbly priced at $10.

Click here to purchase a pass.

Fabian - Going to the Dogs - across Canada

VIFF scored the North American Premiere of one of the very best films at the Berlinale. Don't be deterred by the run time. It goes by in a blink, and it's a whole lot of fun.

Two people embrace in dance in Fabian: Going for the Dogs, one of the best films of Berlinale 2021.

Here's my Berlinale capsule:

Based on the 1932 novel Fabian or Going to the Dogs by Erich Kästner, Dominik Graf’s film adaptation transports us to a 1931 Berlin. It looks a lot like the present day, but with period clothing, Nazi pamphlets (and brownshirts), and the occasional period footage of the nightlife. Mixing Super 8 footage with digital to capture the characters, and occasional archival footage to evoke the time, Graf’s dynamic film is vivacious, unpredictable, moves at a clipped pace, and is never boring despite its three-hour runtime. While the sets and costumes are period-accurate, the performances are entirely modern, without any affects of the past, which is just one of many smart ways Graf connects the 1931 action to our present day reality.
At the centre of the story is Fabian (Tom Schilling), an unhappy copywriter with a PhD in English, who falls in love with a woman (Saskia Rosendahl) he can’t afford to love, loses his job amidst a sea of unemployment, and suddenly finds himself out of place as a moralist in an increasingly amoral world. Over the course of the film’s three-hour runtime, we get to know Fabian, his aspiring actress girlfriend, his activist best friend (Albrecht Schuch), and his lovely mother. At first, we watch them enjoy the pleasures of the Weimar Republic, but soon, they face increasing despair in a world where Nazi ideology is becoming more mainstream and having convictions is a luxury. At once a love story, a coming-of-age story, and the story of a society going to the dogs, Fabian is vibrant, funny, depressing, ultimately horrifying, but always intellectually involving. Though somewhat episodic in its structure, it is a character drama through and through, and it’s always a pleasure to spend time in the company of these characters, even as they go through despair.

Click here for tickets.

Now streaming

Anne at 13,000 ft - Mubi UK/Ireland/Latin America/France/Germany/Italy/Turkey/India, virtual cinemas Canada/US

Two years after its premiere at TIFF, where it won an honourable mention for the Platform Competition (where director Kazik Radwanski sat on a jury with Riz Ahmed and Clio Barnard this year), Anne at 13,000 ft is now streaming in the US!

Here's an excerpt from Orla's intro to her interview with director Kazik Radwanski:

In Anne at 13,000 ft, Anne (Deragh Campbell) suffers from an unspecified mental illness (likely along the lines of bipolar disorder), and she’s reassimilating into everyday Toronto life after being institutionalised. Work, responsibilities, and socialising can be quite overwhelming for Anne. The choppiness of the cutting and the speed at which we whirl through the eponymous Anne’s life is fitting for such an unstable character.
Director Kazik Radwanski shoots most of the film in handheld closeup, so we’re trapped in painfully close proximity to Anne as she enters uncomfortable situation after uncomfortable situation. Sometimes, we watch Anne putting others on edge, like the intense speech she gives at her best friend’s wedding reception, or her forwardness with a potential boyfriend (Matt Johnson). Sometimes, we watch others making Anne nervous, like several of the men she encounters in the film. Often, it’s less easy to place blame on either side of the clashes this volatile young woman has with those around her: is it her instability, or their insensitivity, or both? It’s this uncertainty that makes Anne at 13,000 ft so anxiety-inducing.

Read the full interview here.

Click here to watch in Canadian virtual cinemas.

Click here to watch in US virtual cinemas (until Oct 8).

Mouthpiece - Prime UK/Ireland, Kanopy/VUDU Free US, CBC Gem Canada

One of the best films of 2018 is now streaming in the UK... and we helped it get distribution there!! If you missed our free worldwide screening of Mouthpiece last year, catch up with it now. Expect to laugh and cry.

Our team fell in love with Patricia Rozema's Mouthpiece at TIFF 2018. We named it the best film of 2019 and the third best film of the decade. We've sat with Mouthpiece for several years now, and revisited it so many times, that it already feels like an all-time favourite — and yet, until now, it's been so difficult for people to actually see it. Although the film got a small release in Canada and the US, it never saw international distribution. To bring it to wider audiences, we held a free online screening of the film last October. As a result, the film secured UK and Ireland distribution with Bulldog Films. It's coming out tomorrow!

Mouthpiece stars Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava (and is based on their play) as Cassandra: one woman whose internal monologue is externalised by the two actresses. Cassandra's mother has just died, and we follow her around Toronto picking up flowers, snacks, and a coffin while trying to write a eulogy. As she attempts to sum up the complicated woman that her mother was, she has her own existential crisis and feminist reawakening.

Beautiful, moving, inventive, and so entertaining, Mouthpiece is unlike any film we've ever seen before.

Here's a short excerpt from Alex Heeney's interview with Rozema, Nostbakken, and Sadava from our ebook The 2019 Canadian Cinema Yearbook, in which they talk about adapting the play for the screen together:

Patricia Rozema: We shifted tone when we added the mother [to the film]. She wasn’t really fleshed out in the play. When we got together to write the screenplay — I’m a mother, and my mother died when I was their age — I felt like I had something authentic to add that wasn’t weird fakery for me to insert myself into this thing.We just talked and brought out stories of their mothers, and my mother, and me as a mother, and put it all together. But it shifted in sympathy a little bit towards the mother. We could feel the great loss of her potential, the life she could have had and didn’t. In that shift, the music [in the play] was a little bit brassier and in your face, a little younger and angrier.
Norah Sadava: The whole play was a little big younger and angrier. Sweating, and muscles, veins, pulsing and popping. The play is also acutely about a woman going through a feminist awakening, finding out she’s a hypocrite, and dealing with the realities of that. The movie has that in it, but it’s also about grief, which the play just doesn’t really deal with.
Amy Nostbakken: We are looking at that through a feminist lens. We get to see two sides of this woman, but there are, of course, more than two, but all the time we are going, with the sex scene or getting dressed, “This is where we are spending our time? What do I wear? No, not this. Am I on the top or the bottom? What do I look like? Look at that stupid face I’m making. That’s not a real orgasm”

Click here to read the full interview.

We've done a lot of coverage of Mouthpiece, including two podcast episodes and an in-depth masterclass with Rozema, and you can find it all here.

You'll want to watch Mouthpiece again and again and again. It's a film that will make you want to call your mom.

Happy watching!


Alex Heeney, Editor-in-Chief

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