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Annual Top Films Lists

Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2015: #15. Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan

The Death and Life of John F. Donovan

Director: Xavier Dolan // Writer: Xavier Dolan

2014 marked an important year for the burgeoning auteur Xavier Dolan, premiering his fifth feature Mommy in the main competition at Cannes where he snagged the Jury Prize (tying with Jean-Luc Godard). The film also represented Canada as the country’s submission for the Best Foreign language representative, and should finally solve US distribution issues that have hobbled the release of some of his earlier titles, such as his 2009 debut I Killed My Mother (which took home the Camera D’or) and 2013’s Tom at the Farm. His latest feature marks his most ambitious project yet, an English language debut attempting to grapple with notions of the American film industry, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. Marking Dolan’s English language debut, the film tells the tale of an American’s movie star’s exposed correspondence with an 11 year old fan (based on Dolan’s own experience mailing Leonardo DiCaprio as a young child, briefly mentioned in I Killed My Mother). And, he’s amassed a highly notable cast, including Kit Harington, Jessica Chastain, Susan Sarandon, and Kathy Bates.

Cast: Kit Harington, Jessica Chastain, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates

Production Co.: Lyla Films, Sons of Manuel

U.S. Distributor: Rights available.

Release Date: The globe-trotting title is currently marked as a possible 2016 release, but with filming taking place this Spring, we’re holding onto the (slim) possibility that Dolan will be ready to present in Venice (where Tom at the Farm premiered).

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Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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