La La Land

Headline Gala Damien Chazelle follows up the brilliant Whiplash with La La Land, an exuberant, style-drenched tribute to bygone Hollywood musicals. Emma Stone plays Mia, a coffee shop barista and unsuccessful actress of nevertheless considerable talent. Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian, a jaded but idealistic jazz pianist who is stuck playing Christmas jingles to unengaged restaurant…

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Una

Official Competition When sitting down to watch a film, often the production companies that appear on screen don’t really offer much in the way of a clue to what tone you might be faced with. Film 4 doesn’t follow this rule. Harshly real, set in the UK, and utterly miserable, Una is exemplary of the…

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The Red Turtle

Journey Between 2012’s The Wind Rises, last year’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and When Marnie Was There, released several months ago, it would seem that peerless Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli have been taking a considerable number of bows before finally closing down operations (to no-one’s complaint). The Red Turtle, a co-production between Ghibli…

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Moonlight

Official Competition Moonlight is raw and important filmmaking, offering a mature take on subject matter typically overlooked by popular cinema. At the very start of the film, as the production company logos show on screen, we hear the now-notorious sound of Boris Gardiner’s ‘Every Nigger is a Star’, the track sampled at the start of…

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Hermia & Helena

Love Hermia and Helena, the latest – and longest – of Argentinian director Matías Piñeiro’s series of loose Shakespearean adaptations, is a bright and intelligent engagement with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The film focuses on an Argentine theatre director called Camila (played with lively bi-lingual verve by Agustina Muñoz), who accepts a fellowship in New…

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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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