ASFF selects five films for release this week that will available in cinemas and, in some cases, digitally. From romantic comedy to artistic documentary to black-and-white arthouse, these opposing styles will transport viewers to locations all over the world. On the menu are themes ranging from heartbreak to mental illness to the horrors of war.
British filmmaker Sally Potter (Orlando, The Party) delivers a heartfelt character study, inspired in part by her own late younger brother, and starring Javier Bardem as a near-catatonic New York father suffering from frontotemporal dementia. Elle Fanning plays his long-suffering daughter, with a waspish Laura Linney featuring as his ex-wife. But the real star is Bardem, whose flights of fancy in his mind lead us, touchingly, towards different life-paths he could’ve taken.
The Painted Bird (Eureka)
Causing mass walk-outs when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival a year ago, Czech actor-director Václav Marhoul adapts Jerzy Kosinski’s controversial 1965 novel about a nameless young Jewish boy (Petr Kotlár) who faces hostility and torment as he crosses a ravaged Europe at the tail-end of World War II. Shot in stark-but-beautiful black-and-white, it’s an undeniably trying watch, but there are shards of humanity amongst the horror. An elite cast, including Harvey Keitel, features.
A shiny romantic comedy, written and directed by Gossip Girl scribe Natalie Krinsky, this stars Australian actress Geraldine Viswanathan, who steps up from supporting roles in films like Blockers and The Package to take the lead here. She plays Lucy, an art gallery assistant who is dating her boss (Utkarsh Ambudkar), then gets dumped, fired and finally finds catharsis in creating an installation of strangers’ heartbreak stories. A lightweight confection, which is probably ideal timing right about now.
One of the most celebrated composers and musicians in modern times, Max Richter is here seen in Natalie John’s documentary as he prepares to perform his eight-hour epic SLEEP at an open-air concert in Los Angeles. Joined by his creative partner, the BAFTA-winning filmmaker Yulia Mahr, this is a unique chance to see Richter’s creative process up close. With footage coming from Berlin, Sydney and Paris too, as well as Mahr’s own archive material, it’s a true big-screen experience.
Inspired by true story about New Zealand gang culture, writer-director Sam Kelly’s drama follows Danny at three crucial moments of his life as he evolves from a young boy to a hardened gang enforcer named Damage. With three actors playing Danny at the different stages, Australian-born Jake Ryan takes him on at his most violent. A former Home & Away star, Ryan will undoubtedly draw comparisons to a young Russell Crowe in Romper Stomper.
All films released on 11 September.