Idiot Prayer - Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace
Idiot Prayer - Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace sees Nick Cave play his songs at the piano in a rarely seen stripped back form, from early Bad Seeds and Grinderman, right through to the most recent Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds album, Ghosteen. The film features tracks including Into My Arms, The Mercy Seat, Higgs Boson Blues and Girl In Amber. Recorded in June 2020 and initially imagined as an online-only event, fans will now be able to watch the film in cinemas as an extended cut featuring four unseen performances. Recorded as the UK slowly emerged from lockdown and conceived as a reaction to the confinement and isolation of the preceding months, Idiot Prayer is a souvenir from a strange and precarious moment in history. The performance was filmed by award-winning Cinematographer Robbie Ryan (The Favourite, Marriage Story, American Honey) in Alexandra Palace’s stunning West Hall. It was edited by Nick Emerson (Lady Macbeth, Emma, Greta) and the music was recorded by Dom Monks.
TFF - Master Cheng
A mysterious Chinese man (Pak Hon Chu, My Prince Edward) and his young son arrive in a remote, idyllic Finnish town on a mission to find a one-time acquaintance. The man’s repeated requests of whether anyone knows “Fongtrong”, results in only blank stares. After dinner, restaurant owner Sirkka (Anna-Maija Tuokko) takes pity on them and offers them a place to stay. Cheng sees an opportunity to return the favour when a busload of Chinese tourists pass through looking for a meal. When Sirkka’s sausage specialities are rejected, Cheng offers to make chicken noodles, which prove to be a massive hit. Slowly his creative dishes gain favour with the notoriously fickle and adverse-to-change regular clientele.
TFF - Only the Animals
In a rural plateau in southern France caught in the grip of a snowy winter, Alice (Laura Calamy), a farmer’s wife sells insurance to – and is having an affair with – Joseph (Damien Bonnard, Les Misérables). Meanwhile, prominent Parisian Evelyne (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) has gone missing on the plateau, with only her abandoned car offering any clue. Does Alice’s grumpy husband Michel (Denis Ménochet, Inglorious Bastards) know anything about it?
Screening with ONLY THE ANIMALS is short film CLOSED DOORS: Regaining consciousness in a car wreck, a young father finds that his daughter is missing. In order to reconcile what has happened to his child, he must overcome his own fears and past destructive actions.
TFF - The Perfect Candidate
Oscar nominee and Saudi Arabia's first woman director Haifaa Al-Mansour (Wadjda SFF 2012), brings a revealing look at the changing roles of women in Saudi Arabia. Maryam is a doctor in a Saudi hospital, the only one in town with emergency facilities. Despite her qualifications, she struggles to to earn the respect of male colleagues and patients every day. After Maryam is prevented from travelling to Dubai in search of a better job, a bureaucratic mixup leads her to run for the local elections. With her musician father away on tour, playing the first public concerts allowed in the Kingdom in decades, Maryam enlists her two younger sisters to plan her campaign. She becomes a phenomenon, first via social media, than by appearing on an interview show and refusing to answer questions on so-called “women‘s subjects”. Despite, her father and her community's struggle to accept her as their town's first woman candidate, Maryam's journey becomes a symbol for a larger movement. Screening with THE PERFECT CANDIDATE is short film OBSCURA: An imaginative stop-motion animation that looks inside our cameras at the creatures within, who are living lives defined by what they see through the lens.
TFF - The Mole Agent
Chilean director Maite Alberdi’s delightful character study follows sweet-natured elderly widower, Sergio, as he infiltrates a nursing home at the behest of a private detective agency. Unfortunately, Sergio is a truly terrible spy. He answers phone calls on speaker in front of other residents, asks the carers blatant and obvious questions, breaks spy camera equipment and more. Although no James Bond, he's a kind-hearted man who brings solace and the frisson of attention to the mostly female residents with tender patience and platonic affection. Alberdi's films have long been popular on the festival circuit, including Sydney Film Festival, for their remarkable warmth and humanity. Her latest work, The Mole Agent, is no exception. Her compassionate, often humorous, never judgmental, approach, paints a poignant portrait of life in a Chilean care home and perils of being a spy.
TFF - A Son
A compelling family drama set in the warm southern countryside of Tunisia where a wealthy couple, Ben Fares Youssef (Sami Bouajila, Indigènes) and his wife Meriem (Najla Ben Adallah) answer their son Aziz’s demand to sing his favourite song one more time. As they drive down the dusty roads to their weekend holiday destination, they are ambushed by a group of radicals. They manage to escape but not without a fatality and a subsequent blood test that confirms a long buried secret.
TFF - Corpus Christi
Poland’s Oscar nominee for Best International Film follows a ex-convict who cons his way into a small-town church challenging its community on morality and forgiveness.
TFF - Kuessipan
Adapted from an acclaimed Canadian novel by Naomi Fontaine, Kuessipan is the coming-of-age story told through an Indigenous lens of two First Nation girls from a rural Quebec Innu community, Mikuan and Shaniss. The pair have been close friends throughout their childhood years, despite different family backgrounds. But with the end of their teenage years approaching, they clash over differing ambitions. Mikuan, the more studious of the pair, dreams of life beyond their tiny reserve, and embarks on a relationship that puts her at odds with her lifelong companion. As their friendship is put to the test, the 17 year-olds struggle to find their place in the world. Director Myriam Verreault’s debut feature, a poignant study of friendship and community, and the bonds of culture, is full of humour, kindness and heartbreak.
TFF - Paper Champions
An uplifting Australian comedy from screenwriter-producer-actor, Luka Saliba, who was inspired by New Zealand’s comedy genius Taika Waititi. Luka, wrote the script and, much like his Kiwi idol, also plays the central role of Rey, a goofy guy who’s lost his get-up-and-go – or perhaps he’s never found it? Living with his mum, working with photocopiers, too scared to dance, and perhaps even worse, according to his Islander mates, he’s hopeless at backyard rugby. Egged on by his best mate, the beefy Wade (John Tui), and his mum’s boyfriend, former wrestling champion Terry (Gary Sweet), he sets out to impress a girl – the delightful and determined Holly (Tessa de Josselin). This warm-hearted feature, directed by Jo-Anne Brechin, is just the tonic for our troubled times.
TFF - Monsoon
Henry Golding, star of Crazy Rich Asians, delivers a stellar performance in this moving drama set in Vietnam. Golding plays Kit, a British-Vietnamese man returning to the country of his birth for the first time in decades. He was only six years old when his family escaped to Hong Kong as ‘boat people’, before finally settling Britain. It’s inevitable that he feels like a tourist as he roams Ho Chi Minh City scouting a suitable site for his long-dead parents’ ashes. Kit encounters a young tour guide, arranges an online hook-up with the son of a Vietnam vet, and reunites with his childhood friend, his cousin Lee. Cambodian-British filmmaker Hong Khaou’s story of a homecoming that isn’t really a homecoming, of a history unreconciled, is skilfully crafted, filled with the bustle and beauty of former Saigon, of longing and loss.
TFF - White Riot
Blending fresh interviews with archive footage this energizing film documents a vital London protest movement. Rock Against Racism (RAR) was formed in 1976, during a hostile environment of anti-immigrant hysteria and National Front marches. As neo-Nazis recruited the nation's youth, RAR's multicultural punk and reggae gigs provided rallying points for resistance. As founder Red Saunders explains: 'We peeled away the Union Jack to reveal the swastika'. The campaign grew from Hoxton fanzine roots to 1978's huge concert in Victoria Park, featuring X-Ray Spex, Steel Pulse, Tom Robinson and of course The Clash, whose rock star charisma and gale-force conviction took RAR's message to the masses.