ASFF selects five films for release this week available in cinemas and on demand. With films arriving from Germany, Chile, America, Britain and Sicily, this mixture of documentary and feature work tackles such themes as sexual identity, psychological breakdown, and ageing.
Cocoon (Peccadillo Pictures)
A coming-of-age story set in Berlin in 2018, Cocoon is written and directed by Leonie Krippendorff. Lena Urzendowsky plays 14 year-old Nora, who gradually begins to emerge from the shadow of her older sister Jule (Anna Lena Klenke) as she explores her own identity and sexuality. Convincingly performed by the young cast, Cocoon is sensitively handled both by Krippendorff and cinematographer Martin Neumeyer, who captures youthful desire and passion with real clarity.
The Mole Agent (Dogwoof)
Directed by Chilean filmmaker Maite Alberdi, The Mole Agent is a playful documentary that begins as the 83-year-old Sergio Chamy is hired by a private eye, Rómulo Aitken, to spy around a nursing home, where the staff are thought to be mistreating the residents. A charmer who garners attention from the women living there, Chamy is certainly a compelling character to follow. While The Mole Agent borrows heavily from lightweight 1960s caper films, underneath the frivolity is a sweet look at ageing.
Silent Night (Lightbulb Films)
Writer-director Will Thorne makes the move from television to feature filmmaking with this low-budget but hugely watchable crime drama. Bradley Taylor plays Mark, a South London hitman back on the streets after a stretch in prison who is determined to go straight, for the sake of his young daughter. Atmospheric, well-acted and flush with twists, Silent Night is a cut above your average British crime flick, even if it’s not exactly up there with It’s a Wonderful Life as the most festive film of all time.
Melissa McCarthy teams up with her director husband Ben Falcone, who has previously made Tammy, The Boss and Life of the Party with her, for this comedy. McCarthy plays Carol, an average Seattle resident who gets embroiled with an artificial intelligence computer programme (voiced by James Corden) that wants to use her to observe and learn more about humanity. Falcone co-stars as an NSA surveillance agent and there are roles for Bobby Canavale and Brian Tyree Henry, as a Microsoft web security expert.
Documentary director Michele Pennetta studies two young men living on the fringes of Sicilian society. Oscar is a teeager who collects scrap metal for his father. Stanley is a Nigerian immigrant, working in casual jobs likes harvesting grapes. The two lives are unconnected literally, but on a deeper, poetic level, Pennetta and his editors Damian Plandolit and Orsola Valenti find both fascinating contradictions and comparisons.
All films released on 11 December.