MY 5 PICKS FOR MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL OCT 8-18, 2015

MVFF38

MVFF38

The 38th Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF)  is currently underway and runs from Oct 8-18, 2015. This year’s festival seems to highlight the gender gap and features quite a few films where women play a central role. The films with strong female characters include I Smile Back, Room, Suffragette, Miss You Already, Light Beneath Her Feet and Code: Debugging The Gender Gap among others. For ticket and information check out MVFF’s website.

The opening night films were Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl and Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight. I have an interview with McCarthy coming up.

I watched a few of the films, and will be watching some more in the coming week. This list is by no means an exhaustive one and precludes quite a few good films that I have not had a chance to see. For example, Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan is not in this list. Now, this is a film that I missed watching and plan to watch it later this month.

So, here are my 5 picks from the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival in a random order.

McCarthy’s Spotlight looks at the massive cover-up of the sexual abuse by the Catholic church in Boston. In 2003 the Boston Globe published a series of investigative reports on how the church for decades had skillfully covered up the sexual abuse of children by the Catholic priests. This important local story took years to uncover even though there were people in the know and were aware of the abuse. Why then did it take so long to report the story? The film stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Lieve Schreiber and others.

Director Lenny Abrahamson’s Room is an engrossing tale of a mother and son locked up in a room for years. And then suddenly they are rescued from their confinement and set free. The challenge that the duo struggle is how to adjust to their new way of life in a free world? You will have to see the film to find out how mother and son were imprisioned in a room for so many years. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay give a strong and convincing performance in the film.

Iranian filmmaker Jaffer Panahi’s Taxi is an evocative and subtle film that shows you what life is like in Teheran. Banned from making films Panahi  stars and directs this film that addresses lot of questions like woman’s rights, creative freedom and films. It is the bit about films that is very interesting and poignant and highlights how people find away to get to see the films and TV shows that are banned. Ironically that includes Panahi himself.

The next two films on my list are Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette and Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation, which I will be watching later this week.

Suffragette is about how a group of ordinary women in England fought for their right to vote nearly 75 years ago. The film stars Carey Mulligan, Hannah Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson and Meryl Streep.

Cary Fukunaga’s new film Beasts of No Nation is based on Uzodinma Iweala’s book by the same name. Fukunaga wrote and directed the film that is set in an unnamed war-torn African country. This is a story of how a young boy becomes a boy soldier under a mercenary commandant.  Idris Elba plays the mercenary commandant and Abraham Attah makes his debut as the boy soldier. Netflix acquired the distribution rights for the film, and it will release it online and in theatres on October 16, 2015.

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