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2015 TIFF: Venice Preems from Masters Skolimowski, Bellocchio & Sokurov Among 13

As usual, the Masters programme is cholk-full of carryover items from world renowned auteurs who’ve already premiered last February (Berlin), this past May (Cannes) or as part of the upcoming action on the Lido (Venice). Of the thirteen titles and personalities that need no introduction, it’s the likes of Hong Sang-soo (Locarno) and the Venice preemed, and not yet picked up items from Skolimowski, Bellocchio & Sokurov (all potential Golden Lion winners) that are still sight unseen for several North American based cinephiles. Here are the baker’s dozen of items:

11 Minutes (11 Minut) – Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland/Ireland
North American Premiere
A jealous husband out of control, his sexy actress wife, a sleazy Hollywood director, a reckless drug messenger, a disoriented young woman, an ex-con hot dog vendor, a troubled student on a mysterious mission, a high-rise window cleaner on an illicit break, an elderly sketch artist, a hectic paramedics team and a group of hungry nuns: a cross-section of contemporary urbanites whose lives and loves intertwine. They live in an unsure world where anything could happen at any time. An unexpected chain of events can seal many fates in a mere 11 minutes.

The Assassin (Nie Yinniang) – Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan
North American Premiere
Ninth century China. A general’s 10-year-old daughter Nie Yinniang is abducted by a nun who transforms her into an exceptional assassin. Years later, she is sent back to the land of her birth with orders to kill the man to whom she was promised. Nie Yinniang must now choose between the man she loves and the sacred way of the righteous assassins.

Bleak Street (La calle de la amargura) – Arturo Ripstein, Mexico/Spain
North American Premiere
Mexican maestro Arturo Ripstein (Deep Crimson) directs this true-crime story about the bizarre 2009 murders of midget-wrestling brothers Alberto and Alejandro Jiménez. Starring Patricia Reyes Spíndola, Nora Velázquez and Sylvia Pasquel.

Blood Of My Blood (Sangue Del Mil Sangue) – Marco Bellocchio, Italy
International Premiere
Italian master Marco Bellocchio (Fists in the Pocket, Vincere) returns with this haunting, enigmatic tale that takes us from the 17th century to the present day as it traces the dark history of a cursed monastery.

Cemetery of Splendour – Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand/United Kingdom/France/Germany/Malaysia
North American Premiere
A young medium and a middle-aged hospital volunteer investigate a case of mass sleeping sickness that may have supernatural roots in the gorgeous, mysterious, and gently humourous new film from Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives).

Every Thing Will Be Fine – Wim Wenders, Germany/Canada/France/Sweden/Norway
North American Premiere
A winter evening. A car on a country road. It’s snowing, visibility is poor. Out of nowhere, a sled comes sliding down a hill. The car comes to a grinding halt. The driver is Tomas, a writer. He cannot be blamed for the tragic accident. It’s also not young Christopher’s fault, who should have taken better care of his brother. Tomas falls into a depression. The film follows Tomas and his efforts to give meaning to his life again. Starring James Franco, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Rachel McAdams.

Francofonia – Alexander Sokurov, Germany/France/Netherlands
North American Premiere
Master filmmaker Alexander Sokurov (Russian Ark) transforms a portrait of the Louvre museum into a magisterial, centuries-spanning reflection on the relation between art, culture and power.

In the Shadow of Women – Philippe Garrel, France
North American Premiere
A Parisian documentary filmmaker becomes embroiled in a romantic triangle in this luminous love story from the great director Philippe Garrel (Frontier of Dawn, Regular Lovers).

Jafar Panahi’s Taxi – Jafar Panahi, Iran
Canadian Premiere
Internationally acclaimed director Jafar Panahi (This is Not a Film) drives a yellow cab through the vibrant streets of Tehran, picking up a diverse (and yet representative) group of passengers in a single day. Each man, woman, and child candidly expresses his or her own view of the world, while being interviewed by the curious and gracious driver/director. His camera, placed on the dashboard of his mobile film studio, captures a spirited slice of Iranian society while also brilliantly redefining the borders of comedy, drama and cinema.

Our Little Sister (Umimachi Diary) – Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan
North American Premiere
Three sisters — Sachi, Yoshino and Chika — live together in a large house in the city of Kamakura. When their father — absent from the family home for the last 15 years — dies, they travel to the countryside for his funeral, and meet their shy teenage half-sister. Bonding quickly with the orphaned Suzu, they invite her to live with them. Suzu eagerly agrees, and a new life of joyful discovery begins for the four siblings. Starring Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho and Suzu Hirose.

The Pearl Button (El Botón de Nácar) – Patricio Guzmán, Chile/France/Spain
North American Premiere
The great Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán (The Battle of Chile, Nostalgia for the Light) chronicles the history of the indigenous peoples of Chilean Patagonia, whose decimation by colonial conquest prefigured the brutality of the Pinochet regime.

Rabin, The Last Day – Amos Gitaï, Israel/France
North American Premiere
Lauded director Amos Gitaï (Kippur) delves into the prelude and aftermath of the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in this gripping docudrama.

Right Now, Wrong Then – Hong Sang-soo, South Korea
North American Premiere
The delightful new film from Festival favourite Hong Sang-soo (In Another Country) presents two variations on a potentially fateful romantic encounter between a filmmaker and a painter, tracing each to its own very distinct outcome.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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