Friday, May 23, 2014

Cannes Film Festival 2014 (Part Two)

Ready for more complaints about queues? Welcome to the second and final blog from Cannes 2014!

Cast & crew of Xenia

Xenia played in Un Certain Regard and, directed by Panos H. Koutras, it follows two very different brothers who, after their mother passes away, go in search of the father who abandoned them as children. It's a camp affair overall, between the Greek Star audition (think X Factor) plot and a few musical numbers and dance routines thrown in for good measure. There are plenty of plot holes (didn't they do well to escape the police and sniffer dogs even though older brother Ody was giving younger brother Dany a piggyback?!) And there was also the bizarre sequence, reminiscent of The Night of the Hunter, where the two brothers drift along the river in a boat while various wildlife (including a giant sized rabbit!) come to the riverbank to watch them pass...? The film was picked up by a distributor but I don't see this having mass appeal on release. I managed to grab a quick video of Koutras and cast in their pre-screening address.

One of my favourites has been Damian Szifron's Wild Tales. This thoroughly refreshing and hugely entertaining Argentinian film pulls together six different, unrelated stories, each offering it's very own 'wild tale', largely about people on the edge losing control and crossing the line that society usually demands we stay behind. It works exceptionally well overall (although the humour level doesn't quite sustain throughout) and four of the six are truly wonderful. A special shout-out has to go to the third story which tells the tale of a cocky driver in a fancy car overtaking and abusing a slow driver in his clapped-out banger, hurling abuse as he speeds by. A few miles down the road however, he gets a flat, and who should be the next driver to arrive on the scene...? What follows is a hilarious exchange of revenge exacted which escalates and escalates until it reaches it's unimaginable and utterly hilarious climax. The whole film is wildly entertaining and a complete breath of fresh air. It's probably simply too much fun to win any major awards, but you never know...

Director Damian Szifron

In an almost-sequel, Mange tes Morts/Eat Your Bones by Jean-Charles Hue focuses on the traveling community in France, in particular three brothers (one of whom has just been released from prison following a fifteen year stretch) and their cousin. The most interesting scenes for me were the very natural conversations on the community's halting site with old rivalries coming to the fore. The main thrust of the film follows the four men as they attempt to break into a scrap yard to steal a consignment of copper that the youngest brother Mickael has learnt of. While Mange tes Morts could be viewed as a sequel (after Hue's 2010 film La BM du Seigneur which followed the same characters) it can equally be viewed independently. 

Cannes favourites Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne returned with Two Days, One Night, this time opting to work with a well-known actress (Marion Cotillard) instead of their usual lesser known faces. The story, set over a weekend, follows Sandra (Cotillard) as she sets out, reluctantly, to meet each of her colleagues one by one in order to secure their support for her in a ballot the following Monday where they must vote between her keeping her job or all the staff receiving a bonus. The main themes of the film revolve around depression/mental health and the wider economic situation. Many seem to have issue with the credibility of such a well known actress taking on the role of such an ordinary, down on her luck employee, but I had no such concerns. I don't think it's the Dardennes' finest work, but it's still absorbing and worthy of being in the Official Competition.

Pascale Ferran's Bird People is an interesting and unusual film which played in Un Certain Regard. I absolutely loved the opening sequence which randomly dropped in, for a few moments, on various different conversations during a train journey and the private thoughts people were having. Seamlessly going from someone having a heated argument to joining someone else listening to classical music on their headphones, it was a captivating opening. Once the main film gets started it very much splits into two stories. The first follows Gary (Josh Charles) and while staying at the airport hotel (where most of the action of the film takes place) he decides to change everything about his life, starting with quitting his job and leaving his wife. The second part follows Audrey (Anais Demoustier), one of the hotel's chambermaids who (literally) wants to soar to new heights (the clue is in the title people!). The Carte Noire IFI French Film Festival director Marie-Pierre Richard simply adored this film. You heard it here first!

Cast & crew of Bird People

From a flight of fancy to a journey of despair, in Hope, deep in the Sahara Desert, a young man from Cameroon  comes to the rescue of Hope, a Nigerian, as they navigate a dangerous journey to illegally gain access to Europe. Desperately bleak with obstacles facing them at every turn along their way, there is also great beauty, and the chemistry between the two leads is marvellous. I found this very engaging, powerful and thought-provoking, though never an easy watch. 

Playing outside competition, the title of Andre Techine's latest release, In the Name of my Daughter, may sound like a Sally Field made-for-TV movie, but it is in fact a solid piece based on a true story. Set in Nice, following the breakdown of her marriage, Agnes le Roux (Adele Haenel) returns home to her mother Renee (played by the ever wonderful Catherine Deneuve), owner of the Casino le Palais. She quickly befriends Maurice (a truly wonderful performance from Guillaume Canet), her mother's confidante and legal advisor, and their relationship deepens, despite his having a wife, son and string of other lovers. A fixed game at the casino, rigged by the mafia, throws the future of the business in jeopardy and loyalties are put to the test and broken. The film opens in the present day and then goes back in time, so despite me not being familiar with this true story (it apparently was back in the news only weeks ago with new twists and turns), one is aware from the beginning that Agnes has been missing, presumed dead for over 30 years and that Renee believes it was at the hands of Maurice. Techine offers us a very conventional film. The performances are great and the story is intriguing, and this should be met warmly by those interested in solid French film.

Following on from Saint Laurent on Sunday, it was time for me to move fashion house from YSL to Christian Dior. Dior and I is the new documentary from Frederic Tcheng which is a behind-the-scenes look at new Artistic Director, Raf Simons' first haute couture collection in his new role. The access granted to Tcheng is fantastic and the cast of characters involved in bringing the collection to fruition demonstrates a group of passionate, dedicated and loyal employees; and that in itself poses a slight problem for the film. They're all too nice! Dior and I lacks the foreboding central character of say Anna Wintour (she pops up in this too!) in The September Issue or her (perhaps more interesting) second in command Grace Coddington. Raf Simons is a much gentler character - although the cracks do begin to appear as the show draws closer. And tensions do begin to mount as the atelier team are put under increasing pressure, especially when one of the premieres doesn't cope particularly well with change or stress. Overall the documentary presents a rare opportunity to get to see the work and passion that goes into making a fashion collection and catwalk show, and it makes for a great companion piece to Saint Laurent.

Dior and I

Nadav Schirman's The Green Prince is a slickly produced documentary about one of Israel's most prized spies, the son of a top Hamas leader. Using a combination of first person testimony, archive footage and reconstructions, it charts how Mosab Hassan Youssef (code name The Green Prince) was recruited by the Israelis and how (and why) he turned on his own people, including his family and friends, and the relationship he developed with his Shin Bet handler, Gonen Ben Yitzhak. Produced by Schirman along with two-time Oscar winner Simon Chinn (Man on Wire and Searching for Sugar Man) and Oscar winner John Battsek (One Day in September), it has all the trademarks of these highly produced documentaries. It employs the real life thriller approach reminiscent of The Imposter and is it a fascinating, almost incredible story. It picked up the Audience Award at Sundance and I'd imagine it should also get a lot of attention from Cannes. 

In Un Certain Regard, Mathieu Amalric steps behind (as well as in front of) the camera in Le Chambre Bleue/The Blue Room. Two lovers, Julien (Amalric) and Delphine (Lea Drucker), conducting an affair, post-coitally lie in their blue room contemplating spending their lives together. This then cuts to the police interrogating Julien for a crime we know is related to their affair and respective spouses. But what has he done and is he indeed guilty? This is a stylish and classy film. It wavers slightly towards the end but it is still a very interesting and engaging film from the director/actor Amalric.

So what will win the coveted Palme d'Or and the other major awards? It's a hard one to call. For the Official Competition, as I was leaving Mommy (Xavier Dolan) and Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard; who has never won the Palme) had both just screened and were generating positive word, while many are still talking about Mister Turner (Mike Leigh) and Wild Tales (Damian Szifron) from earlier in the Festival. Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev) - which is showing tonight - was being talked about as one of the favourites before the Festival even began. 

So that's it for me for Cannes 2014. I look forward to hearing (and debating the worthiness) of all of the winners. Until next May...

Ross Keane

Read Ross' festival blog - part one - here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cannes Film Festival 2014 (Part One)

So we're back in Cannes for another year of obsessing about schedules and trying to expertly judge queue lengths to pack in as many films as humanly possible!

I started my Cannes 2014 trip with The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy which tells the story of a happily married couple whose lives are suddenly torn apart by a family tragedy and follows the journey they must take to see if they can rebuild their shattered relationship. 

Jessica Chastain & cast of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

It's hard to say much more without telling the reason for their marital stress (it isn't revealed for quite some time) but it's an enjoyable watch overall, even if some of the impressive supporting cast (Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, Ciaran Hinds and Viola Davis) aren't used to any great value. But, to feel like you were there, I did manage to capture the pre-screening Q&A!

Hot on the heels of the Yves Saint Laurent biopic (of the same name) earlier this year, Cannes unveiled the second study of the fashion designer in Bertrand Bonello's drama playing in the Official Competition which is stylishly shot, with great music and - as you'd expect - fantastic costumes.

Jessica Hausner's Amour Fou played in Un Certain Regard and is beautifully shot with each frame almost resembling a painting resulting in a film that looks like a sequence of beautiful tableaux. It's slow moving but quietly engaging. But perhaps not the 'romantic comedy' that it's being referred to as.

The documentary Red Army follows the Russian ice hockey team during (and briefly after) the Cold War. With Russia currently so present in the news, Red Army is perfectly timed to give a fascinating insight into the world politics behind the sport and the characters who shaped it both on and off the rink. It's well told, humorous in parts, but ultimately chilling.

Watch the film trailer:

The cast and director Jaime Rosales were in attendance for the Un Certain Regard screening of Beautiful Youth. The films presents a bleak view of life for Spain's youth with few opportunities on offer, hence leading the central couple to decide to shoot a porn movie to earn some cash. Its style is refreshing (although I wasn't convinced that the Whatsapp sequences worked to demonstrate the passing of time, and seemed a little gimmicky) but bar that I was sufficiently drawn into the world of the young couple looking for some hope for their future. It was touching to see lead actress Ingrid Garcia-Jonsson so overcome with emotion due to the wonderful reaction of the audience to the screening. 

Cast & crew of Beautiful Youth

Perhaps my favourite film to date was Abderraane Sissako's Timbuktu. This beautiful and delicately told film about religious fundamentalists spreading terror in the region has at it's heart the story of doting father and husband Kidane (Ibrahim Ahmed) and the consequences he faces after accidentally killing the fisherman Amadou over a valued cow. The film contains some stunning imagery. The scene of the boys playing imaginary football (with no real ball due to the religious banning of the game) was powerfully simple, as was the memorable image of the soldier sitting on the roof against the moonlight listening to music being played by the people he was about to arrest (music had also been banned). But perhaps the most striking image was the panoramic and lingering shot of Kidane wading though the water to escape the dying Amadou on the opposite bank.

Cast & crew of Timbuktu

David Cronenberg has assembled an impressive cast (Julianne Moore, Mia  Wasikowska, John Cusack, Olivia Williams) for Maps to the Stars, his cutting look at our celebrity obsessed culture. With two colliding stories (one of a fading actress - Julianne Moore - haunted by her mother as she strives to be cast in the same role that brought her mother fame many years before, and the other of a Hollywood family with secrets aplenty and enough skeletons in the closet to feed The National Enquirer for decades!). Fine performances abound and the film is simply delicious in parts. For me, the first half heavily relied on jokes and references to other celebrities in the public domain, but it got a lot meatier and more engaging as it progressed towards its dramatic, Greek tragedy climax.

Next up in the Official Competition was Foxcatcher starring Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and an unrecognisable Steve Carell (who may have found a new calling in creepy and sinister roles). Based on a true story of two Olympic gold medallist wrestlers and brothers (Tatum and Ruffalo) who are taken under the wing of businessman and philanthropist John du Pont (Carell) to help bring them sporting glory. It all begins to go horribly wrong when that 'interest' begins to have a more sinister and obsessive side. It's a fascinating story and a treat to see Carell in such a different role.

Gente de Bien is a sweet Colombian film about a young boy, left by his mother to a father he barely knows. Struggling in downtown Bogota, the occasional employer of the boy's father takes pity on their situation and offers to take them on her family vacation over the Christmas break. I wouldn't imagine it'll be picking up any awards, but it was still an enjoyable watch.

And so with the first set of films under my belt, does it make the schedule seem less daunting now? Not a chance! With word of must-sees filtering through and my own selection, I'll still be spotted in queues around town staring at the programme schedule trying to figure out how to bi-locate!

A bientot, 

Ross Keane

To coincide with the presentation of States of Fear to mark its 15th anniversary, the Tiernan MacBride Library looks at other documentaries which caused controversy in Ireland

Shocking Documentaries: Four Films that Sparked Outrage in Ireland

This month the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund, in association with the IFI and RTÉ, marks the 15th anniversary of the broadcast of the States of Fear documentaries with screenings and discussions examining the impact of the series on Saturday, May 24th. Mary Raftery’s exposure of the abuse and neglect practised in Ireland’s industrial schools caused a public outcry, pressuring the Irish Government to apologise for its role in perpetuating the system.

We in the IFI Irish Film Archive’s Tiernan MacBride library look at other documentaries which, for varying reasons, caused outrage in Ireland.

1. Ireland: The Tear and the Smile (1961)
This CBS documentary, examining contemporary Ireland, was broadcast to American audiences in 1961. Initially the Irish Government collaborated with the filmmakers, recognising the potential of the programme to transmit images of a thriving modern Ireland to potential investors in the U.S. The finished programme angered the State who believed it reinforced offensive stereotypes of Ireland as a poverty-stricken, primitive country decimated by unemployment and emigration. Sean Lemass maintained that his government had been grossly deceived by CBS but his letter of protest was sharply dismissed by the programme’s producer, “for us to pretend these situations did not exist would be journalistically dishonest.”  [1]

Walter Cronkite in Ireland: The Tear and the Smile observes the Irish in “two of their favourite occupations, ‘talking and drinking'.” [2] Copyright 1961 Robert Monks

2. Open Port (1968) 
The Radharc team of priests produced programmes that examined moral and social issues within a religious context. In Open Port their documentation of alleged prostitution along the quays in Cork City drew censure because of their use of a hidden camera to film young girls boarding ships with sailors. The documentary sparked a media debate that ran for months; critics accused the team of infringing upon the subjects’ human rights to produce a sensationalist story, while supporters commended Radharc’s high journalistic standards and its unflinching exposure of a “social evil.” [3]

Fr. Leo Lennon, port Chaplain, calls for the closure of Cork’s quayside in Open Port.
Copyright 1968 The Radharc Trust

3. Fairytale of Kathmandu (2007)
Nessa Ní Chaináin’s second documentary about the poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh began as a tribute to his work establishing education projects in Nepal. Her unease about the poet’s sexual relationships with several of the Nepalese youths he supported changed the focus of the film, however. Ó Searcaigh asserted that these were consensual relationships conducted with men above the Nepalese age of consent and accused Ní Chianáin of betraying his trust. She was concerned with the “disparity of power” [4] involved in the relationships between a 50-year-old wealthy westerner and poor 16- to 17-year-old Nepalese boys. The divisive film brewed up a media storm in Ireland but a subsequent Garda investigation resulted in no official charges being made against Ó Searcaigh. 

Cathal Ó Searcaigh is welcomed to Nepal in Ní Chianáin’s first documentary about his work in The Poet, The Shopkeeper and Babu. Copyright 2006 Vinegar Hill Productions

4. The Pipe (2008)
This film chronicled the resistance of a local Mayo community to Shell Oil’s government-backed plans to lay a gas pipeline through Rossport. Risteárd Ó Domhnaill was concerned that Shell was manipulating the news to criminalise protestors and wished to give a voice to “respectable people being treated as if they were thugs.” [5] Though criticised in some quarters for its perceived lack of objectivity, the documentary captured shocking scenes of violence used by Gardaí in clashes with protestors, which bolstered support for the community’s struggle.

Gardai baton-charge protestors in The Pipe. Copyright 2010 Underground Films

By Eilís Ní Raghallaigh

The IFI Irish Film Archive’s clippings and document collections contain thousands of files and images relating to all aspects of Irish and Irish-interest film and television production. They are available to view in the Tiernan MacBride library within library opening hours, or by appointment with the librarian. Please contact the IFI librarian, Fiona Rigney, for more information. 

[1] Savage, R. J. (2003) Ireland in the New Century. Dublin: Four Courts Press.
[2] Savage, R.J. (1999) Ireland: The Tear and the Smile. In L. Dodd (Ed.), Nationalism Visions and Revisions (pp. 60-63). Dublin: FII Publishing, 1999. 60-63.
[3] Realist. (1969, January 1). Cork Quays. Cork Evening Echo.
[4] Sheridan, K. (1996, February 2). Sex, power and videotape. The Irish Times, pp.3.

[5] Clarke, D. (2010) Almost by accident, he was making a documentary… The Irish Times, pp. 9.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

IFI Announces winner of the inaugural Pete Walsh Critical Writing Award

Darragh O’Donoghue has been named winner of the IFI Pete Walsh Critical Writing Award for his review of Rob Epstein’s 2013 film Lovelace.

The Pete Walsh Critical Writing Award is a new annual award inspired by the late, esteemed IFI programmer Pete Walsh. Reflecting Pete’s passion for good writing about film, the award recognises an outstanding piece of critical writing on any one film theatrically screened in Ireland during the previous calendar year.

Chairman of the Judging Panel Tony Tracy, Lecturer in Film Studies at Huston School of Film, NUI Galway said ‘I was struck by the number and quality of entries that struggle with the effect and meaning of a film text. The judges felt that Darragh O’Donoghue’s fine piece on Lovelace (a film widely overlooked in 2013) was the most complete in terms of analysis, writing competency and intelligent reference to other films and we’re delighted to congratulate him as this year’s winner.’

The panel consisted of Tony Tracy (NUI Galway), Kevin Coyne (Irish Film Institute), Gráinne Humphreys (Jameson Dublin International Film Festival) and Professor Neil Sinyard.

You can read Darragh O’Donoghue’s winning entry below, or in the June IFI monthly programme. He also receives a year’s free entry to IFI cinemas.

Rob Epstein's Lovelace

LOVELACE (2013, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman)

As a documentary filmmaker, Rob Epstein has rewritten US historiography by placing sex and sexual identity at its centre, rather than wars, expansionism, race or economic development.  Most crucially, he reclaimed homosexual achievement, whether that of publicly visible, heroic males like Harvey Milk and Allen Ginsberg, or the unseen gay personnel in, and viewers of, classic Hollywood, who inserted subversive content in their films, or read reactionary narratives ‘against the grain’.

But if males, even homosexual males in a homophobic society, can be active makers of history, Epstein’s first solo female heroine seems passive – discovered, renamed, abused, pimped, raped, gang-raped, and financially exploited by men.  Even at the moment of Linda Lovelace’s greatest cultural triumph – skin flick Deep Throat entering mainstream culture, making her a media sensation – her achievement is a joke, her body, her skills, her name the subjects of sniggering jokes by aging males on TV, such as Johnny Carson and Bob Hope. 

Had Linda’s story ended with Deep Throat, or the final escape from her vicious husband (an escape ultimately facilitated by yet more scary middle-aged men), hers would have been a sad, sympathetic, not particularly inspiring narrative.  What makes Linda a true Epstein hero(ine) is that she fights back.  She names and shames her abusers, and by implication the snickering mainstream ‘intelligentsia’ that for a few moments got off on Deep Throat.  And she did this by writing a book, by becoming – like Milk the orator and Ginsberg the poet – an artist.  Her fight back is like that of the contributors to The Celluloid Closet : each responds to a bogus, noxious, widely accepted media construct of sexual identity with a resounding NO.

The Ginsberg film Howl was the transitional film between Epstein’s documentary work and Lovelace, his first fully blown feature.  Howl was a documentary in that it reproduced audio, visual and textual records; it was fictional in that Epstein (and co-director Jeffrey Friedman) reconstructed those records in live action monologues, dramatic sequences and by the use of animation.  James Franco acting as Allen Ginsberg as he recites ‘Howl’ or gives a press interview may be fiction, but is only quantitatively different from, say, Franco reading an old letter on a Ken Burns documentary.

Rob Epstein's Lovelace

Howl’s multi-stranded approach is replaced in Lovelace by a more cohesive fictional illusion.  Even archival footage of Linda’s appearance on the Donahue talk show digitally replaces the historical Linda with the actress playing her, Amanda Seyfried.  The only other factual intrusion occurs at the end of the film when the usual ‘what happened next’ titles are followed, movingly, by a photograph of the real life Linda.

The film begins with an audio-visual overture – images of camera, film screens and audiences warning us to be aware of the mediated nature of what we are about to see; fragmented images of Linda taking a bath are overlaid with a montage of voices, asking for the ‘real’ Linda Lovelace.  The impression is of a woman without her own voice, defined by her body, the subject of others’ discourse, her ‘self’ created by cinema and the media.

Her story is then told in two parts.  The first is the traditional zero-to-hero narrative.  Linda Boreman is brought up in such a strict Catholic family that her only sexual experience to date resulted in a baby that was tricked away from her, the family moving from New York to Florida to escape the perceived shame.  This is alluded to as she jokes hesitantly about fellatio with her best friend Patsy – sex is immediately both the subject of embarrassed humour and a literally scarring trauma; later in the film, one will serve to hide the other.  Always led by the seemingly more adventurous Patsy, Linda is discovered go-go dancing at a local ice rink by bar owner/small-time criminal Chuck Traynor, whose opening gambit is to ask the ‘girls’ whether they have ever considered dancing professionally.  Wooing her with charm and pot, while trying to hit on Patsy at the same time, he marries Linda and, pressed by debt, asks Linda to star in a porno.  Deep Throat, with its iconic fellatio sequences and apparent sense of humour, becomes a huge hit; Linda wears gorgeous frocks to meet Sammy Davis Jr and Hugh Hefner at glitzy parties, and everybody is having innocent fun with the unexpected mainstream success of an essentially innocent blue movie.

‘Six years later’ flashes on the screen, a harrowed Linda seems to be tied to a chair; she is taking a polygraph test.  She is about to write an exposé of her experiences, and her publishers want to make sure she is telling the truth.  The first story is told again, but this time the gaps created by what had seemed to be conventional elisions between scenes are filled in.  Linda’s honeymoon sex is a violent rape; before suggesting Deep Throat, Chuck pimps Linda to out-of-town salesmen; she is forced to film Deep Throat at gun point; he brandishes the gun again when Linda refuses to pleasure a room full of Hollywood executives. 

The two most distressing scenes are not, however, those of Chuck’s physical abuse, but dramatise encounters with people who should be supportive but fail to help.  The first is an astonishing sequence where Linda seeks refuge from Chuck with her parents.  Her mother, the exemplary Catholic who offloaded Linda’s baby, refuses to take her in, telling her she must go back to her husband, and fulfil her vow to forever obey him.  She can never divorce, despite Linda telling her mother that Chuck abuses her.  Sharon Stone’s icy righteousness disguised as maternal wisdom is the high point in a major performance.  (Whether or not the conception of her character is sexist – by contrast with the empathetic and emotionally sustaining father – is another matter).

The second scene also stages an abortive flight, as Linda trips in a long dress running away from Chuck outside their home.  A police car drives up.  The policemen are dubious when Chuck claims to be the bloodied Linda’s husband, but when one of them recognises her as a porn star, all concern for her evaporates, as if someone who works in that line deserves everything she gets.

Rob Epstein's Lovelace

It would be misleading to imply that the first half of the film is the breezy Official Story of Linda Lovelace as presented to the world in the early 1970s, and the second a revision of that history rewritten by its victim.  The first half does acknowledge Chuck’s violence – his outburst on being released from jail, or the bruises Linda displays to her co-star Dolly.  Nevertheless, the second half seems to unquestioningly vindicate Linda’s account – despite the polyphony of the overture, her account is privileged as the true one, the corrective; there is no Rashomon-style counterpoint of witness statements from Chuck or the other protagonists.  It appears to be enough that the polygraph machine attests to her truthfulness. 

For some the spectacle of female victimhood in a film written and directed by men will be problematic. Others might cite Linda’s Catholic background and read her ‘Ordeal’ as a ‘Passion’, a spiritual journey through sin and suffering leading to redemption.  Even more, taking their cue from The Celluloid Closet, might place the story of a beautiful, resourceful woman betrayed by a handsome heel in the tradition of the 1940s women’s picture, and praise Lovelace as a Mildred Pierce of the spurious ‘sexual liberation’ era.

For more information and to check for updates about next year’s competition visit

The judges also highly commended Tom Floyd’s review of Nebraska and commended Stephen McNeice’s review of Nobody’s Daughter Haewon.