EIFF 2016-Most Anticipated Films

This is probably the most excited I’ve been about a film festival lineup in Edmonton, although I feel mildly guilty because I feel like the draw for films by directors I know outweighs that of the more obscure festival fare.

Every year I attend EIFF (and this is probably my 5th or 6th year), I face the conundrum of trying to decide whether to attend unknown Canadian and international films that I’ll probably never be able to see anywhere else, or films that arrive in Edmonton already steeped in festival buzz and garnished with awards. While picking films I had no idea about has paid off in the past (that’s how I saw The Lunchbox and Wild Tales, although those obviously blew up later), there is an equal chance I’ll be slogging my way through some quaint Canadiana.

This year, EIFF is hosting more attending filmmakers than any other year. I want to support local and small time filmmakers, but I am so impatient to cross the big name indie films off my list. Festival guilt. Ugh.

Anyway, this years festival is STUFFED with films that caused a stir at Cannes (and a few at TIFF), so it’s been harder than usual to choose my festival roster.

I decided to get a REEL DEEL Pass this year because there’s so much I want to see. I’m going to feel super official walking around.  Here’s a few of the films that I’m the most excited about.

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Below Her Mouth

With Below Her Mouth, Mullen wants to give her audience “an honest depiction of a female’s perspective on desire, love, intimacy, sex and heartbreak.” I was a big fan of Blue is the Warmest Colour a couple years back and, after all the subsequent backlash for director Abdellatif Kechiche’s methods employed to portray the sexual relationship of two women (and perhaps his ability as a man to do so), I’m intrigued by Mullen’s premise and the results of an all female crew.

I’m also always down for a good ol’ erotic film; even the title starts my blood going. I hope it lives up to its buzz from TIFF (Mullen recently signed with Verve fresh off her efforts with this movie). Also a good chance to support something Canadian and attend a Q&A with the director.

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The Handmaiden

I’ve been on a Korean cinema kick lately (I just caught up with Jee Woon Kim’s The Age of Shadows and followed it up with a Hong-Jin Na marathon), so I’m of course looking forward to Chan Wook’s directorial follow up to Stoker. This might be an interesting companion piece to Jee Woon’s film, considering its similar focus on Japanese-Korean relations. Surprisingly, considering my affinity for Korean films, I’m terribly squeamish, so I’m preparing to cover my eyes.

 

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Personal Shopper

I am still trying to define my relationship with Kristen Stewart, but I’ve definitely got an unhealthy fascination. I’m not alone; her role in this film is following up her turn in Olivier Assayas’s last film Clouds of Sils Maria, for which she received widespread acclaim and, making history, a Cesar for Best Actress. She was also the cover story for a recent issue of Film Comment. My love hate relationship hinges on the argument its author makes: the very mannerisms and unassuming acting style for which she is lauded are also my main points of attack against her. Is she a nuanced natural at delivering her lines, refusing to resemble the dramatic turns of her female contemporaries, or is she an overly affected, impossibly self-aware hack? Harsh? Maybe; the juries still out. I’m just glad this film is finally here. I watched Equals a couple weeks ago just to scratch my K-Stew itch.

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Toni Erdmann

Every article I read this year dissecting Cannes seems to be in consensus that Maren Ade was robbed by leaving the festival sans the Palm D’or (the film’s publicity still was essentially the poster for Cannes 2016) . I caught up with Ade’s 2009 film Everyone Else in preparation. She definitely has an eye for character and I can’t wait to see what all the fuss is about (especially considering its lengthy run time).

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The Salesman

Farhadi is a director who’s films you just don’t miss (A Separation recently made the top ten of the BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century, placing Farhadi in the company of director’s like Terence Malick, Wong Kar-wai, Paul Thomas Anderson, and David Lynch). I most recently watched his 2006 film Fireworks Wednesday and am excited for another cultural dissection of modern day Iran.

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