ASFF selects five new films released on demand this week. Three features and two documentaries, hailing from America, Denmark, Italy and France, they offer a variety of experiences to audiences. From comedy-romance to investigative journalism to period drama, directors explore such issues as terrorism, political and social divisions and courage in the face of adversity.
The first Walt Disney Animation original in nearly five years, Raya and the Last Dragon is a quest story set in a realm where humans and dragons once lived in harmony. Kelly Marie Tran voices Raya, a warrior princess who seeks out the last living dragon Sisu (The Farewell’s Awkwafina) to defeat the menacing Druun creatures. Directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, this is cute and colourful, with some lovely touches (including an anime section) and great voice work from the likes of Daniel Dae Kim and Sandra Oh.
Anders Refn is the father of Danish provocateur Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) and the long-time editor of Lars von Trier. But he’s also an occasional filmmaker too, right back to films like Cop (1976) and The Flying Devils (1985). This latest feature is a World War II drama, starring Jesper Christensen as a factory owner who finds his family is divided when the Nazis arrive in town. At 152 minutes, its long but it’s an ideal film for those who wish to immerse themselves in a finely tuned period drama.
The Dissident (Altitude)
Bryan Fogel’s follow-up to Icarus, his Oscar-winning documentary about Russian state-sponsored doping in athletics, is another well-researched investigative piece. This time, he’s turned the spotlight on the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Shocking revelation follows shocking revelation in a doc that has the pulse of a political thriller. You will burn with a sense of fury and injustice after watching it.
My Donkey, My Lover & I (Curzon)
Booking holidays is difficult right now, so you could do worse than taking in this French comedy-romance from Caroline Vignal (Girlfriends). Laure Calamy plays Antoinette a schoolteacher who has been planning a summer holiday with her clandestine lover – the father of one of her pupils. But when his wife organizes a surprise trekking holiday in the Cévennes National Park for the family, Antoinette decides to get in on the donkey action and follow their well-trodden path.
Gianfranco Rosi is the humanitarian Italian director and the only documentary director to win the top prizes at both Venice (for 2013’s Sacro GRA) and Berlin (for 2016’s Fire at Sea). His latest, Notturno, is the result of three years of filming, as he travelled across the Middle East between Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Kurdistan, documenting people who are trying to cope with the horrors of living in war zones, be it starting over in their daily lives or facing up to the terrorism that is on their doorstep. A powerful exploration.
All films released by 6 March.