'20th Century Women'
Chain-smoking and Birkenstock-wearing 55-year-old Dorothea "comes from the Depression," explains her 15-year-old son Jamie, as though "The Depression" is the planet Jupiter..
Film Review: ‘Aquarius’
Led by a powerful performance from Sônia Braga, Aquarius uses a conflict between a tenant and developers to take an insightful look at the relationship between space and identity..
Factory of Lies (2018)
The False News From Russia
Russia has launched an information war - introducing a new weapon. Hundreds of young Russian are producing fake news from fake profiles. But some brave Russian..
Film Review: ‘Mary Shelley’
“Mary Shelley” is a rarity: a literary biopic with an argument. Which is by no means to say that the film, directed by Haifaa al-Mansour (“Wadjda”) forgoes the expected pleasures of the genre..
The legendary actress leaves our world
Today the legendary Iranian-American actress Vida Ghahremani passed away after battling cancer for many years. She went beyond taboos of her time to have the very first..
A Thousand Times Goodnight: Absorbing fact-based drama
Beautifully filmed and powerfully acted, 1,000 Times Good Night achieves absorbing fact-based drama without overindulging in Hollywood contrivances. Starring Juliette..
Cannes 2018 • Changeless Change • Jean-Luc Godard and Jia Zhangke
“We are never sad enough for the world to be better,” laments a concluding female voice in 'The Image Book.' “Something that burns so..
Sridevi honoured At the Cannes Film Festival 2018
Veteran Bollywood actress Sridevi was honoured with the TITAN Reginald F Lewis Film Icon Award at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival..
CANNES 2018 • Awards
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s film has scooped the top prize, while other names on the winners’ list include Europeans Alice Rohrwacher, Marcello Fonte, Pawel Pawlikowski and Jean-Luc Godard..
CANNES 2018 • Un Certain Regard • Awards
CANNES 2018: Victory for the film by Swedish-Iranian director Ali Abbasi. Girl scoops the Award for Best Performance, while Sofia, Donbass and The Dead and the Others are..
Cannes Film Review: ‘Ash Is Purest White’
Jia Zhangke’s gangster epic is a twisting tale of love and survival in 21st-century China. A winding tale of love, disillusionment and survival that again represents his vision of..
Cannes 2018: Lars von Trier’s ‘The House That Jack Built’
It’s a drama that leaves you shaken yet detached, chilled and a little numb. Almost every scene in it has been overly designed to grab your attention..
Cannes Film Review: ‘Bergman — A Year in a Life’
Ingmar Bergman emerges as a compulsive figure with a very grand hunger in a penetrating documentary about his pivotal year of 1957..
CANNES 2018 Competition • 'Summer' (Leto) • Review
CANNES 2018: You'd be right in thinking this was a biopic, but Kirill Serebrennikov's new film – in the running for the Palme d'Or – is above all a ray of light and colour..
Cannes Film Review: Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘The Image Book’
Jean-Luc Godard's new film is a kaleidoscopic bulletin on the state of our world, and the question it asks could apply to itself: Is anyone watching?..
Iran’s Asghar Farhadi • On the push and pull of home
CANNES, France — The Cannes Film Festival opening-night premiere of Asghar Farhadi’s “Everybody Knows” coincided almost exactly with President Trump’s announced..
Cannes Film Review: ‘Sextape’
Half the conversation in “Sextape” is about blowjobs
Two cads treat their girlfriends like sex toys in a slice of bad behavior that would like to be a vérité youthquake but sticks to the raunchy..
CANNES 2018 • Un Certain Regard • Ali Abbasi • Border
CANNES 2018: Cineuropa talked to Tehran-born director Ali Abbasi about his sophomore effort, Border, based on a short story by John Lindqvist and screening in Un..
Cannes 2018: The directors who are banned from attending the film festival
Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi and Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov – who both have films competing for the Palme d’Or – have..
'Wonder Wheel'
A larger-than-life Kate Winslet

Actress sets the screen on fire in filmmaker's torrid period drama about broken Brooklyn dreamers. Kate Winslet is on fire in Woody Allen's Wonder Wheel..
Through the Black Forest
A Rare Interview With von Trier
Here he looks back at his work, talks about his forthcoming movie, and reveals his idea for a new series of small films. Finally he makes a comment on his controversial statement..
Nasser Cheshmazar
'Rain of Love' creator dies at 68

A prominent Iranian composer who was best known for his memorable album “Rain of Love” and theme music for over 20 movies, died of a heart attack on Friday. He was 68..
The Young Karl Marx
Brainy Content Bracing
The early years of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Jenny Marx, between Paris, Brussells and London. In Paris, Marx struggles, unpaid by Ruge, unable to provide for his wife Jenny..
'Lucky' • Movie Review
Harry Dean Stanton Gets the Goodbye He Deserves

Lucky is a bittersweet meditation on mortality, punctuating the career of beloved character actor Harry Dean Stanton. The late, great..
U – July 22 • Film Review
Norwegian kills for thrills?
Erik Poppe’s hyperrealist one-take dramatisation of Anders Breivik’s summer camp massacre offers little sign of moral perspective..
Interview • Kamyar Mohsenin
The Fajr International Film Festival’s manager of international relations, Kamyar Mohsenin, explains to Cineuropa how the gathering has played a vital role in the development of Iranian cinema..
Inuit drama "Aga"
Crowned best at Fajr Film Fest
Bulgarian director Milko Lazarov’s drama “Ága” about two Inuits that live with the dream of reuniting their family has been picked as best movie at the 36th Fajr International Film..
Interview • Director Sergei Loznitsa on Russia
The acclaimed Ukrainian director discusses his latest drama A Gentle Creature, the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and the ‘hell’ of Russian history. “Hell isn’t when horrible things..
Oliver Stone In Iran 2018
For attending Movie Festival
American movie director Oliver Stone was Iran on Monday attending an international film festival. Stone hosted a workshop for filmmakers during the Fajr Film Festival..
Cate Blanchett • To Lead Cannes Film Festival Jury
Chaired by Australian actress Cate Blanchett, the competition jury at the 71st Cannes Film Festival (9-19 May) has now had its line-up unveiled in its entirety..
CANNES 2018 Official Selection
Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Yann Gonzalez and Sergey Dvortsevoy are all now in the race for the Palme d’Or. Lars von Trier will feature out of competition, while Terry Gilliam will close the festival..
Lars von Trier
Receives Denmark's Largest Cultural Award

Denmark's largest cultural award of one million kroner, awarded to Danish film director Lars von Trier on Thursday at the University of..
IRAN NOW • A Mini Festival
The Danish Film Institute 2018
IRAN NOW is a mini festival that looks into the situation in Iran right now, as it is expressed artistically, culturally and socially. Through plenty of guests, we explore the..
The Party (2018)
It Knocks The Wind Out of You

Potter's comic dissection of the London intelligentsia's personal and political angst is completely of the moment. Old-fashioned charm meets sharp wit and modern social..
'Umbra' and 'Like a Good Kid'
Two Iranian movies join Cannes competition
Two movies by Iranian filmmakers will be competing in the Cannes Film Festival as the 71st edition of the event will open with..
Peter Bradshaw on the Cannes 2018 lineup
Some mixed signals with the traditional unveiling of the Cannes film festival’s official selection: a very lively and effervescent list, with eight newcomers in competition and..
Cannes Festival To Feature Films By Dissident Iranian, Russian Directors
France's Cannes film festival has made a show of support for dissident directors in Iran and Russia in unveiling its selection of films..
Cannes 2018
Un Certain Regard puts its faith in young talents

The Cannes selection features a strong European presence, six feature debuts, and films by Valeria Golino, Bi Gan, Ali Abbasi..
Jafar Panahi: Cannes 2018
French Authorities To Appeal Iran For Filmmaker’s Fest Presence. Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux said today that the festival will appeal to Iran for the filmmaker’s presence..
Copenhagen to screen
'The Home' (Ev) from Iran

A superbly cinematic chamber piece, 'The Home' (Ev) has been selected for screening at Danish Film Institute during a festival of Iranian films..
Last Men in Aleppo (2017)
Feras Fayyad’s Breathtaking Work
Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature and winner of the Grand Jury documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival..
Doc on Farhadi’s “Salesman”
to premiere in Tehran

A documentary on Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning drama 'The Salesman' is scheduled to premiere in Tehran in the near future. It will be screened at the Art and Experience..
'Everybody Knows' to open the Cannes Film Festival
The film by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi will be screened in competition as the opening movie of the 71st Cannes Film Festival starring Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Ricardo Darin..
Faces Places (2017)
A Visual Ode to Ordinary People

Agnes Varda is almost 90 years old and she is still making fantastic films. Searching, compassionate, provocative, funny, sad ones. This is one of them..
A Fantastic Woman (2018)
The story of Marina who undergoes several misfortunes after losing a loved one. A woman who is not granted the respect a grieving wife or girlfriend would receive. All she wants is be allowed to say goodbye, to grieve publicly..
‘In the Fade’ (2017)
A Tale of Grief and Violence

How should liberal societies deal with homegrown political extremists, who seek protection from the democratic norms and institutions they are committed to destroying?
John Malkovich • Interview
Recently, at the Hotel Caron in Paris, I got up to use the bathroom one night and found myself out in the hallway instead. But that is one of a million: I am a constant source of embarrassment to myself..
'Loveless’ (2017)
Unnerving and Fearless

Loveless is a stunning indictment of complacency, and a reminder of how fast something you love — like our democracy — can suddenly go poof if you look away..
The Big Lebowski
A typical Coen brothers film is like no film you've ever seen. It blows other more recent slacker comedies out the water and proves that Bridges can do any role..
Berlin: Mani Haghighi's "Pig"
Talks Buzzy Black Comedy

Iranian director and actor Mani Haghighi is a Berlinale aficionado. His gender-bender “A Dragon Arrives!” made a splash when it launched from the fest’s competition section..
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Anger is an energy in Martin McDonagh’s brilliant “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ,” one of the best films of the year. A vigilante mother takes matters into her own..
36th Fajr Film Festival
winners honored

The annual Fajr Film Festival (FFF) came to an end on Sunday at Tehran’s Milad Tower after presenting awards to the best of cinematic productions in the past year..
The Glass Castle (2017)
Affecting, Moving and Well acted
A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who's an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s..
Lars von Trier receives the biggest award in Denmark
The biggest cultural award in Denmark, the Sonning Prize (Sonningprisen) this year goes to Danish filmmaker and screenwriter Lars von Trier, who was elected by a committee..
Armed With Words & Wings
Michael Strunge became the voice of a new generation and a mirror reflection of their identity and life, while he struggled with anxiety and psychotic attacks that pushed him to commit suicide at the age of 27..
THE INSULT (2017)
Civil War Beirut Style

Lebanese film director Ziad Doueiri made headlines recently when authorities in Beirut arrested him at the Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport for questioning about..
The Apu Trilogy
Achingly poignant, beautifully shot, and evocatively atmospheric, Satyajit Ray's classic trilogy is a masterpiece no cinephile can afford to miss. "I can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it..
Walk With Me (2017)
A thoroughly meditative cinema

One of the most calming documentaries you’re likely to ever see is “Walk with Me,” a documentation of Zen Buddhists and their community of Plum Village in France..
What Will People Say (2017)
TORONTO 2017: Cineuropa spoke with Norwegian director Iram Haq whose latest film 'What Will People Say' had its world-premiering at Toronto. “I used the knowledge I have to tell a story so we can build bridges..
Silence (2016)
A once in a lifetime movie

Is it moral to allow others to suffer when their suffering can be ended with a single symbolic gesture? Would God want that? Maybe the priest is destined to realize that it’s all right..
Sepideh Farsi preparing The Siren
1980, Abadan. The capital of the Iranian oil industry is resisting an Iraqi siege. Omid, a 14-year-old boy, has stayed back in the city, with his grandfather, waiting for his..
Sohrab Shahid Saless
The Experience of Exile

A visionary and truly transnational artist, Shahid Saless remained a solitary figure throughout his life. Still his films have left an indelible mark..
EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS 2017
The Square sweeps the Awards
Ruben Östlund’s film The Square – and more specifically a comedy – has taken home most of the awards from the European Film Awards ceremony..
Sophie's Choice • Review
Streep is memorable as Sophie

So perfectly cast and well-imagined that it just takes over and happens to you. It's quite an experience. 'Sophie’s Choice' begins as a young Southerner's odyssey to..
'Vanaja' • Movie Review
A wondrous piece of filmmaking
A Sensitive, Engaging movie from a first-time filmmaker. Rajnesh Domalpalli made this poignant 2006 drama as his thesis film for a master's degree at Columbia University..
Invasion (2017)
How Thirsty are you?

'Invasion' is Shahram Mokri’s third feature after Fish & Cat. Both pics experiment “with nonlinear narrative, thriller elements and point of view,” as Variety critic wrote in her..
Half Moon | Niwemang
A road movie unlike any other
The Kurds may not yet have a country, but as long as Bahman Ghobadi keeps making movies they have a national cinema. Bahman Ghobadi's Half Moon is a beautiful and..
Emma Thompson demands
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is brought home

Actress Emma Thompson has accused Boris Johnson of doing “sweet FA” for the British-Iranian woman imprisoned in Iran..
Kedi (2017) • Movie review
As soft and warm as a kitten
Kedi is a cat fancier's dream, but this thoughtful, beautifully filmed look at Istanbul's street feline population offers absorbing viewing for filmgoers of any purr-suasion..
'Young Torless' • Cruelty of Man Is Explored
A great psychological and philosophical treatise on how normal, well-to-do people, can turn themselves into "torturers and sacrificial lambs," as Torless himself states..
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Movie Review
With uniformly great performances throughout the cast and Lanthimos’ stunning eye for detail and composition, this is one of the most unforgettable films of the year..
Until the Birds Return (2017)
My characters are at a turning point in their personal lives, yet they are not and do not want to be actors for change. In the 1990s an unprecedented civil war left 200,000 dead in Algeria, and tens of thousands..
The Divine Order (2017)
A hilarious comedy that hides ill-concealed discomfort
Petra Volpe continues to talk to us about women, and does so by turning the spotlight on a somewhat inglorious episode
Iranian filmmaker Cannot attend stokholm film festival
The acclaimed Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof has been denied exit from Iran and will not be able to attend the Stockholm International Film Festival..
WINDOW HORSES • A Canadian film about Iranian Poetry
A young Canadian poet with Chinese and Persian parents travels to Iran to perform at a poetry festival. Ann Marie Fleming’s..
A Look at “My Brother Khosro”
An intelligent movie dealing with a pain, a pain that without any pessimistic approach is part of a pain of a family, one of whose members has a mental problem..
ON THE BEACH 2017
'This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.' These lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears..
Al Berto: A Biopic about the life of Portuguese poet
Liberty was there for the taking, but people had not been taught to be free and were not sure exactly what to do with it. Al Berto was ready for Sines, but Sines wasn’t..
Houman Seyyedi talks to CWB
I knew Houman Seyyedi as a very talented actor until I learned about him as a film director and then came the big suprise. After watching the four movies that..
Pouran Drakhshandeh talks about Under the Smoky Roof
Last Thursday, was the opening night of 'Under the Smoky Roof', a social drama directed by Pouran Derakhshandeh at the Fine Arts Theater, Los Angeles..
12 European films awarded At The Warsaw Film Fest
The Polish event’s Grand Prix went to the Chinese feature To Kill a Watermelon. Danish film The Charmer by Milad Alami won Competition 1-2 prize..
LOVING VINCENT (2016)
The final mysterious days in the life of Vincent van Gogh are the subject of investigation in this formally daring work, seven years in the making, that marries live action performance to..
Never Let Me Go
With Never Let Me Go, Mark Romanek has delivered a graceful adaptation that captures the spirit of the Ishiguro novel -- which will be precisely the problem for some viewers..
Interview • Milad Alami
SAN SEBASTIÁN 2017: Cineuropa chatted to Swedish-Iranian filmmaker Milad Alami, whose feature debut, The Charmer, is currently taking part in New Directors at San Sebastián..
Wild (2014)
Mini-Odyssey of a broken character
'I’m going to walk myself back to the woman my mother thought I was.' Powerfully moving and emotionally..
An Iranian film director
On the country's censorship

How does censorship work in Iran? The FRANCE 24 Observers team is publishing a two-part interview about censorship and Iranian cinema..
Mountain | Monte (2016)
Now, at 70 years old, Amir Naderi is a true international filmmaker. After "Mountain" (made in Italy) he is now ready to come home to US and start all over again. "It is just the beginning,"..
10th Annual Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco
Welcome to the 10th Annual Iranian Film Festival – San Francisco. This year, the festival presents 40 films from Iran, USA, Italy, France, Canada..
Shirin Neshat • Interview
VENICE 2017

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat remembers an iconic figure from Arab music on the big screen in Looking for Oum Kulthum, a film in competition in the Giornate degli Autori
VENICE 2017 • Interview
Emre Yeksan's The Gulf

“We live in a period of slow decay, and the smell won’t go away any time soon.” Emre Yeksan’s feature debut, The Gulf, has been premiered in the International..
Video Essay Explores
Orson Welles’ ‘F For Fake’

Most cineastes associate Orson Welles with films like “Touch of Evil” and “Citizen Kane.” But his 1974 oddity, is worth seeking out for those who wish to dig..
‘MOTHER! • VENICE 2017
7 Things to Know About

Darren Aronofsky's 'Mother' centers on a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence...
Shirin Neshat • VENICE
'Looking for Oum Kulthum'

“story of an Iranian woman filmmaker, living in exile, who dares to make a film about an iconic Arab singer without being Arabic herself,” Neshat said in her first..
VENICE 2017 • Orizzonti
'Oblivion Verses'

Iranian filmmaker Alireza Khatami is presenting his debut feature Oblivion Verses in Orizzonti at Venice, where Cineuropa spoke to him about fantasy..
VENICE 2017 Competition
'Human Flow'

Artist Ai WeiWei is in the Venice competition with this documentary shot in 2015 and 2016, uncovering the growing crisis of displaced people across the..
Asghar Farhadi begins filming 'Everybody Knows'
The two-time Oscar winner is shooting this European co-production in Spain, with a Spanish-speaking cast headlined by Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz..
The Song Of Scorpions
Anup Singh’s ambitious third feature stars Golshifteh Farahani and Irrfan Khan, following an independent woman as she struggles against hardship and treachery to remain true to her own instincts..
Tokyo Sonata :: Movie Review
An adventurous work both disturbing and ultimately moving. Kiyoshi Kurosawa's first domestic drama is music to general audience's ears..
The Homesman (2014)
A genuine art film
"The Homesman," despite the title, is about women. Women are the center of the action, women drive the action forward, women are not only damsels in..
MONSIEUR IBRAHIM :: Movie Review
Tender but never sappy, Monsieur Ibrahim brings two people of vastly different age and background together in ways that are touching, and telling..
The Innocents (2016)
'The Innocents’ is a profound meditation on a forgotten moment in history. Lou de Laage shines in Anne Fontaine's provocative historical drama. When Anne Fontaine’s “The Innocents” made its..
VENICE 2017 :: Venice Days
Samira Makhmalbaf named as jury president for Venice Days 2017. The Iranian actress and director will chair the jury made up of 28 young viewers from..
NETWORK (1976)
It's never been more timely
Criticised by some at the time for a certain naivety and lack of subtlety, this remains one of the most devastating condemnations of the media's urge to..
Woody Allen & his New Orleans Jazz Band at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival
The iconic filmmaker and clarinet player Woody Allen joins the international headliners at the Copenhagen Jazz Fest
Death And The Maiden
A thought-provoking piece
"Death and the Maiden" is said to be based on events in Chile, but it could take place in any of the many countries where rule is by force and intimidation..
'Insyriated'(2017)
Gripping from start to finish

This nerve-wracking study of life in Damascus won an Audience Award at Berlinale. Hiam Abbass holds together a household under siege in..
Ali & Nino (2016)
A fascinating story of two young people in love who found themselves between East and West cultures during World War I and Civil War when young democratic Azerbaijan Republic got squashed by..
Dangerous Beauty (1998)
Venezia's Hidden Treasure

Based on the true story of Veronica Franco, a well-born Venetian beauty who deliberately chose the life of a courtesan because it seemed a better choice than..
The Polygon People
The Documentary
A First look at the ‘most nuked place on Earth’ where Soviet Union detonated 456 bombs over the course of 40 years. A look at the way locals’ lives were..
‘When God Sleeps’ (2017)
winner of the Golden Heynal

The best music documentary film and hence the winner of the Golden Heynal award at the 57th Krakow Film Festival, by the decision of the Jury under the..
Cannes 2017 • Awards
And the winners are...
Ruben Östlund’s The Square wins the Palme d’Or. Pedro Almodóvar’s jury divided its prizes across a generally deserving spread of films..
Retrospective • Dustin Hoffman • The Graduate
Dustin Hoffman turns 80 later this year, the Irish Film Institute (IFI) takes the opportunity to celebrate the work of Dustin Hoffman, on the occasion of..
Mohammad Rasoulof's
Goodbye | Be omide didar
Another superb piece of work produced in Iran. Let's pause for a minute and reflect on just how difficult it is to get these movies made..
A Master's Final Frames
Cannes 2017

Movingly presented at the largest cinema in Cannes, the Iranian auteur Abbas kiarostami's final film may be the most experimental ever shown at the..
Iranian filmmaker wins major prize at Cannes
Iranian auteur Mohammad Rasoulof's bleak drama "A Man of Integrity" won the Un Certain Regard competition at the Cannes film festival on Saturday..
Kantemir Balagov's 'Closeness' at Cannes
A social realist debut from Kantemir Balagov is an intense film influenced by the Dardenne brothers. For the Un Certain Regard selection at Cannes..
Cannes’ FIPRESCI Prize goes to (Beats Per Minute)
The international critics have crowned Robin Campillo’s film BPM (Beats Per Minute); Closeness and The Nothing Factory also awarded..
The award winners of the Cinéfondation unveiled
Student films from Belgium, Iran and France, awarded at the Cinéfondation. The jury of the Cinéfondation, chaired by Cristian Mungiu, has handed prizes..
The Golden Eye goes to 'Faces, Places' at Cannes
The film by Agnès Varda and JR has won the award for the best documentary screened across the various Cannes selections this year..
'They' (2017)
Movie Review • Cannes 2017

A minor-key portrait of an identity crisis. Jane Campion executive produced Iranian-born director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh's debut feature..
Susan Sarandon talks film and politics • Cannes 2017
In the run-up to the screening, Sarandon, who was named an ambassador for the beauty brand last year, sat down with WWD to talk film..
Loveless (2017)
Cannes 2017 • Movie Review

Such a haunting experience that it remains absorbing even when it doesn't go anywhere. Russia has always been a cold and dreary place in the cinema of..
Get Out (2017)
With the ambitious and challenging “Get Out,” Jordan Peele reveals that we may someday consider directing the greatest talent of this fascinating actor and writer..
Karim Moussaoui
Interview • Cannes 2017

Cineuropa met up with Karim Moussaoui to discuss his first film 'Until the Birds Return', presented in the Un Certain Regard section at the 70th Cannes Film..
Alejandro Jodorowsky's 'Endless Poetry' (2016)
Alejandro Jodorowsky's 'Endless Poetry' is the most accessible movie he has ever made, and it may also be the best. It's Felliniesque and moving..
The Other Side of Hope
Movie review

Five years after Le Havre, Finland’s deadpan morose-romantic master delivers the second part of a prospective ‘dockyard trilogy’ with this..
Lerd (2017) • Cannes
Interview with M. Rassoulof
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rassoulof represents Iran at the Un Certain Regard competition section of the 70th Cannes Film Festival with his latest film ..
Arnaud Desplechin talks about 'Ismael’s Ghosts'
CANNES 2017: French director Arnaud Desplechin talks about Ismael’s Ghosts, which was screened out of competition at the opening of the 70th Cannes Film..
Happy End (2017)
Cannes Film Festival
First Clip from Michael Haneke’s ‘Happy End’ Features a Very Unhappy Dinner Party. After all, this is the director behind such films as 'The White Ribbon,' 'Amour..
Vanessa Redgrave Sparks
'The Loves of Isadora'

Karel Reisz' biographical portrait of Isadora Duncan stars Vanessa Redgrave as the famed modern dancer, who gained notoriety for her revolutionary..
Wild Tales (2015)
An inventive Argentinian film
Argentina’s “Wild Tales” comes as such an extraordinary surprise. Perhaps the best multi-story feature this reviewer has ever seen..
Noureddin Zarrinkelk
Life Achievement Award

A tribute to legendary Iranian/American animation director, writer and illustrator. Born on April 10, 1937 in Iran, Zarrinkelk founded the first school of Animation..
"The Idea of a Lake"
By Milagros Mumenthaler
Finding inspiration in the true story of a woman whose father disappeared during the civilian-military dictatorship in Argentina..
Tehran Taboo (2017)
First animation in Critics’ Week

In his animated drama, the German-Iranian filmmaker paints a dark picture of the metropolis, a city of prohibitions..
The Day Will Come
London Film Festival 2016
Based on real stories from a boy home called ‘godhavn’, where lots of boys were victims of violent and sexual abuse and medical experiments...
Respiro (2003)
The Critics' Week Grand Prize Winner at Cannes 2002

A cheerful, life-affirming film, strong in its energy, about vivid characters ; using mental illness as an entertainment..
Southside with You (2016)
Barack and Michelle Obama's First Date
A mostly-true account of the first date between Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. A look back on a fateful..
History of the Festival de Cannes
A NEW FESTIVAL IS BORN

The first edition of the Festival was originally set to be held in Cannes in 1939 under the presidency of Louis..
Hidden Reserves:
Immortality, but at what price?
Vienna in the near future. An insurance company has created a system in which people do not even have a right to..
Slavoj Zizek's
The Pervert's Guide to Ideology

You don't have to share Slavoj Zizek's materialist philosophy to find his analyses of culture and movies witty, insightful..
The Birth of a Nation
Biblical passion and Cheesy emotion
Nate Parker’s heartfelt account of Nat Turner, the slave who led a rebellion in 1830s Virginia, is conventionally paced..
Graduation (2016)
A Study of Grubby Bureaucratic Compromise

Graduation marks yet another well-written and powerfully acted look at morality and societal decay from..
Incendies (2010)
A Powerful, Disturbing film
Adapted from the 2003 play by Wajdi Mouawad, twins Jeanne and Simon leave Canada for the Middle East to fulfill their mother’s final wish..
Spotlight (2015)
The Power Of The Press

The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese..
Before the Flood (2016)
An Inconvenient Truth
Here is a heartfelt, decent, educational documentary about the most important issue of our time – climate change – presented by A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio..
I, Daniel Blake (2016)
Winner of the Palme d’Or

I, Daniel Blake marks yet another well-told chapter in director Ken Loach's powerfully populist filmography. Returning to filmmaking after saying..
"Razor’s Edge: The Legacy of Iranian Actresses"
A look at the often controversial role of women in Iranian cinema during the secular period from the 1930s to the Islamic Revolution in 1979..
Afghan Film Festival
12-21. April 2017

After much planning and inspirational talk, we can finally unveil a special cultural event on Danish soil: Afghan Film Festival in Copenhagen..
Bahman Ghobadi's
‘Rhino Season’

Produced by Martin Scorsese, this is the first film Ghobadi has made in exile. The work of a great talent marshaling all of his powers as a cinematic storyteller..
Dying for a Song
"Art is education, art is existence, its everything"

A documentary about the musicians being persecuted for raising their voices against political, cultural or religious..
A Simple Plan • Review
A Frozen Setting Frames a Chilling Tale
"You work for the American Dream--you don't steal it." So says a Minnesota family man early in "A Simple Plan," but he is..
Macon Blair’s
'I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore' (2017)

What's delightful about Macon Blair’s movie is how consistently the film challenges our worst assumptions..
Blue Jay (2016)
A trip down memory lane
Meeting by chance when they return to their tiny California hometown, two former high-school sweethearts reflect on their shared past..
Paterson (2016)
'I breathe poetry'

Set in the present in Paterson, New Jersey, this is a tale about a bus driver and poet. The film adds another refreshingly unvarnished entry to..
To Walk Invisible (2016)
A serious Brontë biopic
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Shell (2013)
Life’s a gas station: Scott Graham on Shell


Samuel Wigley, bfi.org.uk


Director Scott Graham discusses lonely souls and filming on a desolate stretch of road in the Scottish Highlands for his powerful first feature.

Shell, the captivating debut from the young Scottish filmmaker Scott Graham, finds claustrophobia in the widest-open landscape, and isolation in the closest-knit relationship. (Daily Telegraph)

Scottish writer-director Scott Graham’s debut feature is a richly poetic drama set at a petrol station on a lonely road in the Highlands. The title character, teenaged Shell (newcomer Chloe Pirrie), mans the station with her emotionally distant father Pete (Joseph Mawle), her only other contact coming from passing drivers – some regulars, others only travelling through the desolate terrain.

Evocative in setting and in its attention to mood and character, Shell was developed from a short of the same name that Graham completed in 2007. Backed by the BFI Film Fund, the feature received its world premiere at the 2012 San Sebastian Film Festival and was selected for the 56th BFI London Film Festival. It marks the arrival of a distinctive, sensitive filmmaker, who cites influences from Bill Douglas and Andrei Tarkovsky to the windblown backwoods balladry of American singer-songwriter Justin Vernon (Bon Iver).

Where did the idea for Shell – both the short and the feature – come from?

I was driving between the north of Scotland, where I’m from, and Glasgow, where I was living. I made a short in my hometown called Born to Run (2006); that was the first thing I did. And I was going back and forth, passing locations, not quite as remote as the one in Shell, but Little Chefs, some garages either still open or abandoned and closed down.

It’s quite a long drive so you’ve got a lot of time to think about stories and characters. Originally I wanted to do a road movie in Scotland, but became more interested in doing a roadside movie, at the kind of place you might stop at in a road movie – to focus on the kind of character who’s tied to a place like that.

How did the feature develop out of the short?

The short’s quite different. In the short, Shell’s father is old and bedridden; she’s waiting for him to die before she can leave. When we were editing it, it felt like there was a different story that I wanted to tell that I hadn’t quite told in the short. It was only my second short, so I was still developing as a filmmaker and learning about what I wanted to say. I wanted to tell a story that was more about an emotional tie to a place and to a person.

A life like [Shell’s] is very limiting if you’re living it, but if you’re writing about a setting like that then it’s really rich: you can write almost anything. You could a write a genre film. I was never going to do that, but it did take some time for me to focus, to work out what most interested me in the story. I wasn’t sure whether I could just focus on one location and one relationship. I knew I was going to have these passers-by and that they were going to affect Shell, and somehow they would be affected by her. When I tried to write scenes away from the garage, they didn’t work as well, they seemed to dilute what I was going.

How did you first manage to get financing for the film?

I did a draft, and then I went to the Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam where they take roughly 20 writer-directors with projects at various stages and you go there and work on your script. You read other people’s work and give feedback, but essentially you’re there to write. It was while I was there that I found the focus I was looking for, and when I got back the UK Film Council [now the BFI] liked what I had written and got involved from that point on.

We see a lot of British films in urban settings, but it’s not often we see a film capitalise on our rural landscapes as Shell does.

Definitely. Particularly with Scottish films, there’s a focus on urban stories, and I think that’s fine but that’s not the world that I knew. I like a lot of urban storytelling, but I did keep thinking of that line by Morrissey: “It says nothing to me about my life.” If I have some experience of what I’m writing about I think my writing is a little stronger, more honest maybe. Scotland’s not a big country but it seemed like the balance was off. There are Scottish filmmakers who’ve focused on more rural settings, like Bill Douglas, who’s a wonderful filmmaker and a big influence on my life.

Is the petrol station an actual petrol station you found or a set?

We thought we would find an abandoned garage or a seasonal garage that we’d be able to rent for the period of the shoot. We did a recce and drove around the Highlands and we couldn’t find one that was usable; most of them were closed down or not even standing anymore – there were signs that there used to be a garage there, like bumps or old bits of a mechanic’s yard but nothing that we could use.

So we found a location where we could build our own. The art department scavenged old materials from old garages. That worked better because we could plan how we would shoot it because we knew what spaces we were going to be filming in. It also felt quite authentic because Pete’s backstory is that he moved to the Highlands and built this garage for Shell’s mother, so there was something about the building of it that felt important to everyone who was making the film. We tore it down again at the end [of the shoot], which was also important, for everyone to say goodbye to it.

It’s interesting to hear that you originally thought about making a road movie. There was something about this remote outpost, and shots of telegraph poles stretching into the distance, that reminded me of a western.

Yeah, I like westerns. I like western literature. Most of the spaghetti westerns were all books, and I remember reading them and liking them. A lot of Cormac McCarthy’s writing has a western setting and that’s a world I quite like to enter: on the one hand very desolate and empty but quite rich in terms of drama and the way the characters interact with one another, the way the characters can survive in a landscape like that.

I didn’t particularly like the film, but that moment in The Road – which is post-apocalyptic but has a western feel to it – when they come across the can of Coke… In the book it’s a hugely significant moment, but it wouldn’t mean anything in an urban environment. So things take on a greater significance in landscapes like that: shelter and food and maybe also love.

It’s a lovely performance from Chloe Pirrie as Shell. How did you find her?

I saw her in a short film called Solstice (2010) by an NFTS graduate [David Stoddart]. We still went through a long casting process because we were looking to cast a father and daughter. We talked about going to schools, but we felt that because of the nature of the role we needed an actress and someone a little bit older who could play younger.

Chloe is able to express a lot without dialogue and there was something about her physically that reminded me of the deer, which becomes an important metaphor in the film. We did a surprisingly little amount of talking up there, which says a lot about her ability and her understanding of what she was there to do.

Did Chloe and Joseph Mawle (as her father) rehearse much together?

They lived together for two weeks in the Highlands, to get a sense of the place and feel part of that landscape, and to form a familiar relationship, to get past that polite stage and get to know each other’s mannerisms. They never read together or anything like that until we came to shoot. I might do that differently next time actually, but with something like Shell, with so little dialogue, it didn’t feel right.

One of the main themes of the film is contact, with the lonely characters seeking desperate moments of fleeting physical contact with each other. How did you ensure that these moments are so powerful?

They were significant in the script. The descriptions were really quite brief, of what the characters were touching or looking at, whether an object or each other. Shell and Pete don’t share the same frame very often. That was something that came out of talking with Yoliswa [Gärtig, director of photography]. You don’t see them together in the same frame until she’s holding him during his epileptic fits. I think that helps intensify the [sense of] loneliness and isolation.

Although they have each other, they lead separate lives. They don’t really interact with each other during the day, just come together for a few hours during the evening. It clearly means a lot to Chloe and Joseph in those roles, when they come together and touch one another, so it’s probably less about how we framed it than about just capturing what the actors are experiencing when they’re in those moments. In that environment we were all feeling quite lonely during the making of the film, so we could relate to what the characters were feeling.


Why did you decide not to include any music?

I wanted to feel as close to Shell’s world as possible. She feels the silence. Sometimes she might have the radio on or she sings, but if those two things aren’t happening then you hear what she hears: the wind and the rain. We wanted to build a rich soundscape and capture all the different sounds that you hear up there.

Who are your influences?

My biggest influence at the moment is the music of Bon Iver. I really liked Lukas Moodysson when I first discovered him, his first few features. There’s a heart there that I found very affecting. Tarkovsky is my favourite filmmaker. I find it very difficult to talk about his work: you just experience it. I think Mirror (1975) is a wonderful film.

What are you working on next?

There’s a script set on the isle of Iona. A mother returns there with her teenage son to take refuge among the community of Christians that raised her. I’m developing that with the BFI and Creative Scotland. I have a script on its second draft now. It’d be wonderful to shoot it this year.

There are more characters, and the story doesn’t depend on one central relationship. There’s something about the connection we have with our souls and I suppose I’m trying to look at that in some way. There’s a spiritual experience in watching a Tarkovsky film or listening to Bon Iver that I’m seeking to bring out in my own work.


****************

Movie Reviw (Guardian)


Scott Graham's debut feature is a hushed and haunting coming-of-age drama, pungently played out in the remote Scottish highlands, where the wind boings off the microphone and passing lorries set the crockery rattling. Chloe Pirrie plays the teenaged Shell, "like the petrol station", who tends to her jittery, reclusive father (Joseph Mawle) and the various lonesome drifters who pull into their forecourt.


Pungently played … Shell.

Along the way, Graham paints a sharp portrait of cramped lives in wide-open spaces and sexual desires that threaten to lose their bearings, bounding off in dangerous directions, surely destined to run aground. He keeps the tale on a steady simmer right through to the closing moments, when it spits and sputters into melodrama. Until then, Shell casts a spell.


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