War crimes, family dramas, and evil in the woods: Austin Film Festival has announced a second wave of films, with some unmissable first local screenings and a pair of retrospective screenings that will bring horror and wonder.
The first wave, announced in August, contained not only Terrence Malick's latest, Nazi resistance biography A Hidden Life, but also a series of world and North American premieres. The second wave is headlined by one of the most eagerly awaited foreign-language films of the year, Céline Sciamma's highly lauded period piece Portrait of a Lady on Fire, as well as the world premiere of Robert Port's Peace about war crimes in World War II - a theme echoed in The Kill Time, Dan Krauss' dramatic adaptation of his own 2013 documentary of the same name about U.S. atrocities in Afghanistan.
However, the big local news is the return of Trey Edward Shults. The filmmaker broke out with the family torture of Krisha before spearheading the new wave of cerebral horror with It Comes at Night. Now the Texas-born Shults brings his latest, critically lauded family drama Waves, to AFF as the centerpiece film just ahead of its Nov. 1 release.
But talking of horror in the woods, like It Comes at Night, the grandmother of the modern rural nightmare makes a special return with a special retrospective screening of The Blair With Project, presented by codirector Daniel Myrick who will also be debuting his new feature, Skyman.
That's not the only retrospective screening announced today. It's time to reappraise one of the most maligned but visionary and visually innovative films of the 1990s, What Dreams May Come. Critically slated at the time of release (we only gave it a mediocre two and a half stars, and that was more generous than many), it will be presented by 2019 AFF honoree Ron Bass, who adapted the tale of a man exploring the afterlife from Richard Matheson's 1978 novel. For its use of CGI to do more than recreate the real world, but to actually push the boundaries of real, that alone makes a rare cinematic outing a must-catch.
Austin Film Festival 2019 runs Oct. 24-31: passes and info at www.austinfilmfestival.com. Now here's the full second wave:
D: Céline Sciamma
France, 1760. Marianne is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent. Because she is a reluctant bride-to-be, Marianne arrives under the guise of companionship, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by firelight at night. As the two women orbit one another, intimacy and attraction grow as they share Héloïse’s first moments of freedom. Héloïse's portrait soon becomes a collaborative act of and testament to their love. Starring: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel
D: Chinonye Chukwu
Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden, Bernadine Williams. The emotional wedge in her marriage grows. Memories of a recently botched execution plague her daily. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. Starring: Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Wendell Price, Richard Schiff, Danielle Brooks
D: Robert Port
A thriller set in the mountains of Italy at the close of the Second World War. Adapted from the critically acclaimed New York Times best seller by famed author Richard Bausch, and based on a true event – Peace tells the story of four American soldiers in WW2, who after they witness a vicious murder of an innocent civilian at the hands of their platoon Sergeant, are sent on a reconnaissance/suicide mission lead by a local partisan, an elderly man whose indeterminate loyalties add to the terror and confusion that engulfs the Americans as they are hunted by an unseen enemy. Starring: Alexander Ludwig, Sam Keeley, Chris Brochu, Franco Nero, Lochlyn Munro, Tyler Hynes, RJ Fetherstonhaugh (World Premiere)
D: Dan Krauss
When Andrew Briggman (Nat Wolff), a young soldier in the US invasion of Afghanistan, witnesses other recruits killing innocent civilians under the direction of a sadistic leader, Sergeant Deeks (Alexander Skarsgård), he considers reporting them to higher-ups — but the heavily-armed, increasingly violent platoon becomes suspicious that someone in their ranks has turned on them, and Andrew begins to fear that he’ll be the next target. Starring: Nat Wolff, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Long, Jonathan Whitesell, Brian “Sene” Marc, Rob Morrow
D: Trey Edward Shults (in attendance)
Set against the vibrant landscape of South Florida, and featuring an astonishing ensemble of award-winning actors and breakouts alike, Waves traces the epic emotional journey of a suburban African-American family— led by a well-intentioned but domineering father—as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the aftermath of a loss. From acclaimed director Trey Edward Shults, Waves is a heartrending story about the universal capacity for compassion and growth even in the darkest of times. Starring: Kelvin Harrison, Jr. (in attendance), Lucas Hedges, Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie, Neal Huff, Clifton Collins, Jr., with Renée Elise Goldsberry and Sterling K. Brown (Centerpiece Film)
D: Zak Hilditch (in attendance)
Katrina (Carmen Ejogo) is a single mother driving cross country to start a new life with her young daughter Clara (Apollina Pratt) when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. As Katrina changes the tire, Clara wanders off the desert road and is bitten by a venomous rattlesnake. Desperate to save her daughter’s life, Katrina accepts the help of a mysterious woman, but after she miraculously heals Clara, Katrina is asked to repay the good deed by killing a stranger in exchange for the life saved. Without time to lose, she must wrestle with the morality of who deserves to live and who should die, before her daughter’s life is once again put in peril at sundown. Starring: Carmen Ejogo, Theo Rossi, Emma Greenwell (World Premiere)
D: Daniel Myrick (in attendance)
Is self-proclaimed alien "experiencer", Carl Merryweather, on the path to filming his own alien abduction? Or, is he just another crackpot looking for fame and fortune? Carl himself may not be completely sure, but he is determined to take us on a journey in search of the answer. And that journey ends at the very spot in the desert where it all began almost 30 years ago ... a chance meeting with an alien he calls the "Skyman". Starring: Michael Selle, Nicholette Sweeny, Faleolo Alailima (World Premiere)
D: Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel Myrick
Three filmmakers disappear in a forest. Starring: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard, Bob Griffith, Jim King
D: Vincent Ward
A doctor dies in a car accident and ends up in the afterlife which is very beautiful. His wife, overcome with grief at his death and the previous deaths of their two children, commits suicide. An adventurous search for his wife ensues. Starring: Max Von Sydow, Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra , Cuba Gooding Jr., Jessica Brooks Grant, Josh Paddock
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