By Roger Costa
Oscar winner director Steve McQueen’s first part of his project for Amazon, depicting the struggles of London’s West Indian community, is an amusing, sensual, vigorous musical romance with strong commentary on racial and social conflicts. Entirely structured as a 1980’s reggae party in a private home filled with passionate dancers, it’s an ode to freedom and the bond between culture, identity and tradition.
Winner of a Special Mention Award at last week’s Toronto, Mexican-Canadian filmmaker Nicolas Pereda’s inventive comedy follows the troubles of a young couple of actors visiting their parents in a small village in Mexico. As they deal with art, ambition, love, obsession, habits, and family values, Pereda crafts an absorbing allegory on the process of creative acting and the challenges of modern relationships.
A well elaborated, intellectual and metaphoric take on the mystery genre, directors Joe DeNardo and Paul Felten invite the audience to an inclusive experimental work with brilliantly unique results. They follow the personal crisis of an actress, and her tumultuous romance with an eccentric detective, as well as her encounters with other artists and musicians. Stephanie Hayes, Scott Shepherd, the musician Eleanor Friedberger, and Chloë Sevigny illuminate this enigmatic Avant-Garde psychological thriller with provocative performances.
In this alarming documentary, director Sam Pollard chronicles the scandalous details of the FBI surveillance program on Martin Luther King’s activism, fueled by the envy and racism of J. Edgar Hoover. Gathering revelatory restored footage of King, testimonies, journalistic material, recordings and tapes, Pollard exposes the FBI’s varied and despicable attempts to destroy King’s reputation, especially focusing on his adulterous affairs. Powerful, timely and shocking, Pollard crafted an essential piece of American history.
Blending dramatization, fiction and documentary, this vibrant and educational account on Black movements surging in West Philadelphia is an essential and instant cult. Director Ephraim Asili gathers a clan of artists and activists in a house where they create a movement that unearths key revelations on the importance of African American intelligence and influence through literature, music and film. As they give shape, colors and voice to their movement, the film presents footage of members of MOVE, the activist organization bombed by the Police in the 80’s while they engaged on the fight for their rights.
(The New York Film Festival 2020 runs thru October 11 with Virtual screenings, Free Talks and Outdoor Drive-In Presentations. Go to https://www.filmlinc.org/nyff2020/ for details and tickets.)