5 to See: This Weekend

This weekend ASFF selects five films that set out to illuminate, thrill, amuse and unsettle. A mixture of animation, documentary and dramatic features, this quintet of movies explores issues of family, religion, education and love.

Summer 1993 (New Wave Films)

In the summer 1993, following the death of her parents, six year old Frida moves from Barcelona to a Catalan province to live with her aunt and uncle, who are now her new legal guardians. The country life is a challenge for Frida, and she now has a little sister whom she has to take care of. Often, Frida is naively convinced that running away would be the best solution to her problems. Director Carla Simon Pipó returns with cinemtography from Santiago Racaj.

Pin Cushion (Pinpoint)

British director Deborah Haywood makes her feature debut with this unique, idiosyncratic drama shot distinctively in her Derbyshire hometown. The Thick Of It’s Joanna Scanlan and rising star Lily Newmark play the socially awkward mother and daughter, trying to forge a life in a new town but both browbeaten by bullies. The cruelty of Mike Leigh’s Bleak Moments springs to mind, albeit blended with oddball fantasy sequences (featuring Girls Aloud’s Nadine Coyle).

Ex-Libris: The New York Public Library (Modern Films)

His 42nd documentary, Frederick Wiseman’s latest is a stately examination of the work of the New York Public Library. Spanning 197 minutes, patience – as well as silence, please – is required. But the focus is not just the institution’s main Beaux Arts building, but an exploration of the programs the NYPL does in the community when it comes to educating children and adults alike. In an era where libraries are falling on hard times, this is a frank reminder of their worth.

Racer and the Jailbird (Thunderbird Releasing)

Flemish director Michaël R. Roskam launched the career of his fellow countryman Matthias Schoenaerts with Bullhead and they reunited successfully on The Drop. This third collaboration sees them return to Belgium for a Heat-inspired crime story, with Schoenaerts starring as Gigi, a slick professional thief who falls in love with a female racing car driver (Blue Is The Warmest Colour’s Adèle Exarchopoulos). Expect American genre glamour fused to European cool.

First Reformed (Picturehouse Entertainment)

The screenwriter of Taxi Driver, Paul Schrader has enjoyed a mixed career as a director, but this tale of a priest (Ethan Hawke) suffering from a spiritual crisis is arguably his best work since 1997’s Oscar-nominated Affliction. Circling back on themes he’s frequently explored, this is Schrader’s nod to directors like Robert Bresson and Ingmar Bergman who have inspired his body of work. Amanda Seyfried co-stars.

All films released on 13 July.

James Mottram

1. Still from First Reformed. Amanda Seyfried.
2. Still from Summer 1993.
3. Still from Pincushion.
4. Still from Ex Libris.
5. Still from Racer and the Jailbird.
6. Still from First Reformed. Amanda Seyfried.