Previews from the London Film Festival 10-21 October – Border, Assassination Nation, Papi Chulo, Lizzie, The Guilty and Joy.
First Lookby Alexa Dalby
Border Gräns is a stunningly original magical realist Swedish fable that opens up a window into a different, unseen world. A customs officer in a coastal town has the ability to sniff out people’s shame, guilt and rage and a strange affinity to the natural world. When she meets someone who can explain why, she has to make unexpected moral decisions.
Border screens on 11, 12 and 17 October.
A black satire on social media in the US and how its ubiquitous use and misuse is warping teenagers’ lives. There’s no such thing as privacy any more and a mysterious hacker is leaking the contents of people’s hard drives and texts with personally disastrous results. Modern Salem is the scene of a contemporary witch-hunt of the four female assumed-guilty protagonists, thus generating grisly, flamboyant splatter-fest violence and counter-violence to drive its moral home.
Assassination Nation screens on 19, 20 and 21 October and is released on 23 November in the UK.
When a gay US weatherman breaks down on live TV, he’s sent home on leave to recover from his unprocessed loss of his partner. He tries to fill the void by befriending a middle-aged Mexican handyman that he’s employed. A comedy drama, this is a touching, humane story of grief, friendship, loss and kindness across language and cultural barriers set against a contemporary US social background of Latino immigration in Los Angeles and the huge contrast in lifestyles between the privileged and the underclass.
Papi Chulo screens on 12, 13 and 20 October.
Chloe Sevigny’s pet project finally comes to fruition with a feminist, female-centred reimagination of the 19th century New England true story. As the rhyme goes, ‘Lizzie Borden with an axe/Gave her mother 40 whacks./When she saw what she had done/She gave her father 41.’ As Lizzie, Sevigny’s blows are struck against an oppressive patriarchy, with superb support from Kristen Stewart as the family’s Irish maid.
Lizzie screens on 11, 13 and 20 October.
The focus of gripping Danish drama Den Skyldige is a flawed police officer in an emergency call centre who becomes personally involved when he answers a 999 call from a woman in danger. Only his face is in close-up throughout and, like him, we only hear the callers on his phone. As layer upon layer of detail is revealed, the plot twists and turns and the tension becomes unbearable. It’s a superb performance by Jakob Cedergren.
The Guilty screens on 11, 12 and 19 October.
Joy is a brutally realistic female-centred drama about the women who are trafficked to Europe to be sex workers. As the story develops, the emphasis shifts from naive young Precious, newly arrived, to the older woman Joy, who is forced to groom her into a good earner and teach her that it’s the ‘survival of the fittest’. The Nigerian women living in the Austrian brothel are controlled by a fearsome ‘madam’ to whom they are paying back their family’s huge debts for their illegal immigration. Most of their parts are played by women who were once in that situation themselves. Joy Anwulika Alphonsus is heart-wrenching as a strong woman trapped in the cycle of exploitation. Needless to say her name and the film’s title are ironic.
Joy screens on 16 and 17 October.