BEGINNING (DASATSKISI), 2020, Georgia, 125 min. Dir. Dea Kulumbegashvili. One of the most acclaimed debuts of the year, writer-director Dea Kulumbegashvili’s BEGINNING takes place in a sleepy provincial town where a Jehovah’s Witness community is attacked by an extremist group. In the midst of this conflict, the familiar world of Yana (Ia Sukhitashvili), the wife of community leader David (Rati Oneli), slowly crumbles. Yana’s inner discontent grows as she struggles to make sense of her desires. The Cannes Official Selection swept the top awards at San Sebastian this year, winning best film, director, actress and screenplay and also won the FIPRESCI critics prize at the Toronto Film Festival. In Georgian with English subtitles.
THE BEST YEARS (GLI ANNI PIU’ BELLI) 2019, Italy, 129 min. Dir: Gabriele Muccino. This moving drama from writer-director Gabriele Muccino (THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME) begins in Italy, 1980, where three 16-year-old idealists, Paolo (Kim Rossi Stuart), Giulio (Pierfrancesco Favino) and Riccardo (Claudio Santamaria), share everything like brothers. Along with them is Gemma (Micaela Ramazzotti), Paolo’s girlfriend, who quickly becomes a full part of their lives. Life soon catches up with them and the young friends embark on different paths. As decades go by, the four reconnect and lose touch over and over, while struggling with their hopes, disillusionments, successes, failures and the passage of time. In Italian with English Subtitles.
DEAR COMRADES! (DOROGIE TOVARISHCHI!), 2020, Russia, 120 min. Dir. Andrei Konchalovsky. From veteran Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky, DEAR COMRADES! is based on tragic real-life events that took place in Novocherkassk in the south of the USSR in 1962. The film follows Lyudmila (Yuliya Vysotskaya), a devout Communist Party official and idealistic veteran of WW II, who is a scourge of anything she perceives as anti-Soviet. Along with local Party officials, she is surprised by a strike at the local factory – in which her own daughter is taking part. As the situation spirals out of control, Lyudmila begins a desperate search for her daughter in the face of curfews, mass arrests and the authorities’ ruthless attempts to cover up the state violence, all of which puts her unquestioning faith in the Party line to the test. Winner of this year’s Special Jury Prize at the 2020 Venice Film Festival. In Russian with English Subtitles.
NEW ORDER (NUEVO ORDEN), 2020, Mexico, 88 min. Dir. Michel Franco. In this riveting, suspenseful dystopian drama from celebrated Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco, a lavish wedding goes awry in an unexpected uprising of class warfare that gives way to a violent coup d’etat. As seen through the eyes of sympathetic young bride Marian (Naian González Norvind) and the servants who work for – and against – her wealthy family, NEW ORDER breathlessly traces the collapse of one political system as a more harrowing replacement springs up in its wake. Winner of the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize at the 2020 Venice Film Festival. In Spanish with English subtitles.