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The Independent/Non-AMPTP films to keep track of at the Fall Film Festivals

It's that time of year. Fall Festivals are rapidly approaching, and with that, the start of the awards race. While Cannes has some weight over Oscar nominations (specifically best international feature), the real conversations begin at the fall festivals.


As of writing, the New York Film Festival, Venice International Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Festival have each announced their lineups for this year. I’ll break down what I think are the films to keep track of for the upcoming awards season. Specifically films not produced or distributed by the AMPTP. As much as I can’t wait to watch those films that are being released, I’d like to spotlight instead films whose studios are okay with their writers and actors getting a decent wage.


Venice International Film Festival


Venice is the first of the film festivals, starting just ten days from now. This is the smallest list in the blog since most of Venice’s program is made or distributed by the AMPTP. The 80th Venice International Film Festival will occur from August 30th to September 9th.


By the way, August 30th is the day of our August “Free-For-All” Film Festival. Join us! Who wants to go to Italy anyway?


Hit Man


Hit Man follows Gary Johnson, a staff investigator who plays the role of a hitman to catch individuals ordering a hit.


Richard Linklater’s next film while we wait 20 years for his adaptation of Merrily We Roll Along, also starring and co-written by Top Gun: Maverick’s Glen Powell! This will be a Linklater Powell reunion, with their first collaboration being 2016’s Everybody Wants Some!!, a great hangout movie.


AGGRO DR1FT


In this sensual experimental elegy by Harmony Korine, spellbinding infrared photography evokes a dreamlike portrait of a tormented assassin.


A collaboration between Travis Scott and Harmony Korine (Kids, Spring Breakers) isn’t something I would have ever thought of, but it makes sense. The main draw of this film is that it’s entirely shot with infrared cameras. Now will people's eyes survive a 1-hour 20-minute action film shot entirely in infrared? We’ll find out soon enough.


Evil Does Not Exist


"Evil Does Not Exist" follows Takumi and his daughter Hana, who live in Mizubiki Village, close to Tokyo. Like generations before them, they live a modest life according to the cycles and order of nature. One day, the village inhabitants become aware of a plan to build a glamping site near Takumi’s house, offering city residents a comfortable ‘escape’ to nature. When two representatives of the glamping company arrive in the village to hold a meeting, it becomes clear that the project will have a negative impact on the local water supply, causing unrest. The company’s plans endanger both the ecological balance of the area, and the local people’s way of life, and its aftermath affects Takumi’s l


ife deeply.


Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s 2021 film Drive My Car won many awards, including an Oscar for Best International Feature. It was one of my favorites during that award season, so I eagerly anticipate the US release of his next film.


Origin


The unspoken system that has shaped America and chronicles how lives today are defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.


Ava DuVernay’s first narrative feature since 2014’s Selma, this film has an all-star cast of Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Nick Offerman, Victoria Pedretti, Finn Wittrock, I can go on and on. DuVernay’s projects have their finger on the pulse of modern-day issues, so I’m excited to see how she visualizes how systematically destructive our country is yet again.


Toronto International Film Festival


Toronto by far has the best international films on this list, much less the most. The 48th Toronto International Film Festival will occur from September 7th to September 17th.


Anatomy of A Fall


A woman is suspected of her husband's murder, and their blind son faces a moral dilemma as the sole witness.


I would be remiss not to mention the Palme d’Or winner of this year's Cannes Film Festival. Film distributor NEON always seems to provide the US distribution for whichever film wins the prestigious award, and I don’t mind. Ever since 2019 when Parasite won I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every Palme d’Or winner, and I expect that streak to continue with this film. I think it’s a lock for a Best International Feature nomination and so far in the lead.


Watch the trailer here.


The Boy and the Heron


Through encounters with his friends and uncle, follows a teenage boy's psychological development. He enters a magical world with a talking grey heron after finding an abandoned tower in his new town.


Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, intended to be a parting gift to his grandson, has had little to no press for it ever since making headlines that Studio Ghibli would not market it for its release in Japan (a risk only someone of Miyazaki’s caliber can pull off). Stills and a plot summary have now been released for the film as it starts its festival run. Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke is one of my favorite films of all time, and hearing that this is his final film, I’m curious to see what his final work will entail. Fun fact: a producer of the film has said this is the most expensive Japanese film ever made.


Poolman


Follows a hapless dreamer and would-be philosopher who spends his days looking after the pool of the Tahitian Tiki apartment block in sunny LA. When he uncovers the greatest water heist, he does what he can to protect his precious LA.


This film stars Chris Pine in the lead role and is also his directorial debut. With a supporting cast of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Annette Bening, and Danny Devito, I have high expectations for what seems to be a fun comedic romp through modern-day Los Angeles.


Woman of the Hour


Rodney Alcala was a killer in the midst of a killing spree when he brazenly took part and won a date on the popular TV game show "The Dating Game".


Another film with an actor doubling as the lead and director, this is Anna Kendrick's first foray into directing. With this film’s intriguing plot based on actual events, I’m excited how Kendrick will tackle this story.


Monster


A mother demands answers from a teacher when her son begins acting strangely.


This film first made waves when it premiered and won Best Screenplay at Cannes earlier this year. Even watching the trailer, I have no idea which direction this movie will go, which makes me all the more excited to watch it.


Lee


The story of photographer Elizabeth 'Lee' Miller, a fashion model who became an acclaimed war correspondent for Vogue magazine during World War II.


If you just told me the cast of this film, I’d watch it in a heartbeat. Kate Winslet leads, with Alexander Skarsgård, Andrea Riseborough, Marion Cotillard, Josh O’Connor, Noémie Merlant, and Andy Samberg (?). What sells the film to me is that Ellen Kuras is directing it, an incredible cinematographer most known for her work on Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. Add to that that it’s based on a true story? Just take my money already.


The Zone of Interest


The commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, and his wife Hedwig, strive to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden next to the camp.


Director Jonathan Glazer’s heavily anticipated follow-up to 2014’s Under the Skin, this film is an adaptation of the book of the same name. Winner of the Grand Prix, it’s been acquired by A24 and has a December release date. Another contender for Best International Feature.


New York Film Festival


New York Film Festival has a special in my heart because it was the first film festival I attended. And pound for pound, it might have the best program on this list. The 61st New York Film Festival will occur from September 29th through October 15th.


Priscilla


When teenage Priscilla Beaulieu meets Elvis Presley, the man who is already a meteoric rock-and-roll superstar becomes someone entirely unexpected in private moments: a thrilling crush, an ally in loneliness, a vulnerable best friend.


Are you kidding me? An A24-produced Sofia Coppola directed film about Priscilla Beaulieu’s and Elvis Presley’s relationship, starring Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi? Don’t get me wrong, this movie lives in the shadow of Baz Luhrmann’s acid trip of a biopic in Elvis, but this film looks like it’s really distinguishing itself from it and focusing more intimately on the Presley family, and personally is more of my tempo. Hopefully I won’t be physically exhausted by the end of it like I was with Elvis.

Ferrari


The life story of Italian sports car entrepreneur Enzo Ferrari.


Micheal Mann is in league only with Wes Anderson, in which that nobody can come close to what he does in cinema. How Mann puts his fingerprint on the life of Enzo Ferrari is a question I’ve asked myself ever since this movie was announced. And with Adam Driver playing Ferrari, opposite Penélope Cruz as Laura Ferrari, this might be the start of a Mann-isance.


Perfect Days


A janitor in Japan drives between jobs listening to rock music.


This is the latest from legendary arthouse director Wim Wenders (known for directing Paris, Texas). Its lead, Kôji Yakusho, won Best Actor at Cannes. Watching the trailer, this seems to be in Wenders’ lane. A lonely man struggling to connect with family they’ve distanced himself from. Yet the trailer's beautiful cinematography and great use of Perfect Day by Lou Reed let me know this film is not to be missed.


All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt


A decades-spanning exploration of a woman's life in Mississippi and an ode to the generations of people, places, and ineffable moments that shape us.


As much as I love writer/director and director/actor collaborations, Barry Jenkins has done incredible work with A24 as a producer of films. Their last shared project, Aftersun, was my second favorite film of last year. They’re producing another film by a first-time woman writer and director of a feature film. While the trailer doesn’t give much away, its gorgeous capture of Mississippi and the presence of actors Sheila Atim and Chris Chalk gives me confidence that it will be the same quality as Aftersun.


La Chimera


A young British archaeologist gets involved in an international network of stolen Etruscan artifacts during the 1980s.


Led by The Crown’s Josh O’Connor, I’ve had my eye on this film since its positive reception at Cannes. I am familiar with the director Alice Rohrwacher’s previous work, and with its intriguing premise and tone, I’m very interested in how this film pans out.


Bleat


Set on the Greek Cycladic island of Tenos, a woman in black is mourning inside a simple house. Reality blends with dreamy imagination, and tradition with insidious desires.


Yorgos Lanthimos is one of the best filmmakers from the current generation of cinema. This short film starring Emma Stone and Damien Bonnard is a co-production with Greek National Opera. What’s most interesting about this film is that it is a silent black-and-white film explicitly designed never to be presented with a recorded soundtrack. The screening of Bleat at NYFF will feature live accompaniment by musicians and a choir, followed by a conversation with Lanthimos. If you plan on going to NYFF, have this on your list.



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