Chasing Asylum

Documentary Competition Australian documentary Chasing Asylum is gritty and unglamorous, but the shocking reality of what it depicts leaves it compelling and significant. ‘Stop the boats’. The presiding philosophy behind Australia’s refugee immigration policy over the last decade has been exactly that, in those exact words. A steadfast refusal to grant citizenship, or even access…

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Manchester By The Sea

Headline Gala The death of a family member creates the strangest void in a person’s life. Barring personal illness, nothing stops life in its tracks in quite the same way. Work is put on hold, dinners are cancelled, and sometimes, individuals are wrenched from their very existence to fulfil their various newfound duties. In Kenneth…

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Divines

First Feature Competition Divines, directed by Uda Benyamina, is a funny, touching tale of innocence and ambition, with an eventual brutality that hits you like a brick. Growing up with a heavy-drinking mother and no money or father to speak of, teenage Dounia (Oulaya Amamra) lives out her schooldays dreaming of earning enough money to…

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Spaceship

Dare Weighed down by laughable pretentiousness, Spaceship never comes close to lift-off. This low-budget British film concerns a schoolgirl’s apparent abduction by aliens in a town in Surrey, which sends her schoolmates and her father into a spiral of cosmic and philosophical uncertainty. The characters all beggar belief; all of the schoolgirls are spacey, neon-haired…

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Zoology

Dare Zoology takes an outlandish, potentially ludicrous premise, and treats it with a defiant sincerity. The film, from Russian director Ivan Tverdovsky, examines the consequences when a put-upon middle-aged misfit suddenly grows an animal tail. Natasha (played well by Natalya Pavlenkova) is a Zoo worker who lives with her mother. Her co-workers are ruthlessly, excessively…

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American Honey

Special Presentation A pulsating, vivacious road movie with heart, depth and realism, American Honey is one of the very best films of the year. The venture marks a rising ambitiousness for Andrea Arnold, director of the critically adored Fish Tank and 2011’s Wuthering Heights. Her newest film takes something gritty and intimate, and balloons it…

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Ten Years

Debate Ten Years has plenty to say, but no coherent way of saying it, and the five stories that make up this compilation are distractingly dissonant. Defying expectations, this low-budget dystopian anthology film scooped up the top prize at the 35th Hong Kong film awards, and outperformed Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the cinema…

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