Sarah Polley's Women Talking Announced for Austin Film Festival
First wave includes the eagerly-awaited Nanny
By Richard Whittaker,
5:10PM, Wed. Aug. 31, 2022
Women Talking, the new film from director Sarah Polley (Stories We Tell), is part of the lineup of eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases announced as part of this year's Austin Film Festival (Oct. 27 – Nov. 3).
Adapted from Miriam Toews' novel, Women Talking may be this year's most loaded cast, with Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Frances McDormand, and Claire Foy as the women of a strict religious community meeting in secret - the only place they can talk about the rampant abuse by the men of the sect.
AFF had already announced that producer Dede Gardner will be in attendance to receive this year's Polly Platt Award for Producing from Polley, and they will both be at a special screening.
There are nine films in this first wave, and another of the hot titles in the list is Nanny, starring Anna Diop as a Senegalese woman who finds reality unraveling when she gets a job working for a couple in New York. Director Nikyatu Jusu is a rapidly-ascending talent, with Nanny having won this year's Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The director will receive AFF's 2022 New Voice Award during the festival.
On the Texas front, cousins Robert and Aaron Weiss spent a decade following mortician Dale Carter, who has ministered to generations of Galvestinians and prepared over 30,000 bodies for interment. Their new documentary, Song of the Cicadas, is a rare look "behind the formaldehyde curtain" to a place that most people will end up, as well as an extraordinary portrait of the idiosyncratic and philosophical Carter.
Austin Film Festival 2022 runs Oct. 27-Nov. 3. Tickets and passes at austinfilmfestival.com.
Follow all our coverage at austinchronicle.com/austin-film-festival.
D: Charlotte Wells
At a fading vacation resort, 11-year-old Sophie treasures rare time together with her loving and idealistic father, Calum (Paul Mescal). As a world of adolescence creeps into view, beyond her eye Calum struggles under the weight of life outside of fatherhood. Twenty years later, Sophie's tender recollections of their last holiday become a powerful and heartrending portrait of their relationship, as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn't, in Charlotte Wells’ superb and searingly emotional debut film.
BEAUTY OF A BLANK SPACE
D: Ryan Love
While on a weekend getaway in Vegas, an aimless young woman, Haley, and her by-the-book brother, Mac, embark on a spontaneous road trip to Portland to rediscover a time capsule that they buried as kids. Within, holds the bracelet of Haley's biological mother. World premiere.
GOOD NIGHT OPPY
D: Ryan White
Synopsis: Tells the inspirational true story of Opportunity, a rover that was sent to Mars for a 90-day mission but ended up surviving for 15 years. The film follows Opportunity’s groundbreaking journey on Mars and the remarkable bond forged between a robot and her humans millions of miles away.
D: Dominic López
Ainsley is a misanthrope who hates people but when she suddenly finds herself in isolation with no one to talk to, she realizes how much she actually misses connection. Enter Ulysses, a dead mouse in a jar. With a little bit of loneliness, a pinch of imagination, and a mouse-sized tuxedo, Ulysses becomes her training wheels in this newly discovered world of friendship. World Premiere.
D: Nikyatu Jusu
In this psychologically complex fable of displacement tinged with supernatural horror, Aisha (Anna Diop), a woman recently emigrated from Senegal, is hired to care for the adorable daughter of an unbalanced white couple (Michelle Monaghan and Morgan Spector) living in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood. Increasingly unsettled by the family’s volatile home life, though desperate to make enough money to bring over her young son from Senegal, Aisha begins to unravel, finding her life in America to be more nightmare than dream.
In attendance: Writer/Director Nikyatu Jusu
D: Hanadi Elyan
The film Salma’s Home, set in Jordan, revolves around three women with distinct personalities. Salma (Juliet Awad) is a talented baker living alone in a large old house overlooking downtown Amman running an un profitable home-based bakery, her daughter Farah (Sameera Asir) is a young working mother with marital problems. Their lives are disrupted by the death of Salma’s ex-husband. The funeral takes place at the house of his current wife, Lamia (Rania Kurdi), an aspiring socialite who is obsessed with building her brand online. After the funeral, shocking facts come to light leading to territorial clashes and finally forcing the three women to accept some harsh realities and take control of their lives.
SONG OF THE CICADA
D: Aaron Weiss & Robert Weiss
In the coastal town of Galveston, Texas, Dale Carter lives as a mortician in his Victorian home with his protege and friend. Over the course of a decade, this observational documentary chronicles his daily life with friends, family and strangers alike, as he navigates the mortuary profession and his attempts to realize his dream of renovating a historic home in Beaumont, Texas. Song of the Cicada explores the philosophies and motives behind the macabre obsessions that define this eccentric mortician. World premiere.
WHO INVITED CHARLIE?
D: Xavier Manrique
Phil Schreiber, a self-involved hedge fund manager escapes to the Hamptons with his wife and son at the beginning of the pandemic. Making an already fraught situation worse is the surprise arrival of Phil’s college roommate Charlie. An exemplar of Falstaffian excess, Charlie is also the keeper of some of Phil’s darkest secrets. To make matters worse for Phil, his wife and son love Charlie. As Charlie makes himself at home - secrets are revealed that threaten to do more harm than the virus they’re all hiding out from.
D: Sarah Polley
Based on the best-selling novel by Miriam Toews, Women Talking follows a group of women in an isolated religious colony as they struggle to reconcile their faith with a series of sexual assaults committed by the colony's men.
In attendance: Producer Dede Gardner and Director Sarah Polley
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March 24, 2023
March 24, 2023
Austin Film Festival, Austin Film Festival 2022, AFF, AFF 2022, Women Talking, Nanny, Song of the Cicadas