Greta Lee and Celine Song talk PAST LIVES – Jennifer Green reports

For a film about the deep connections we have with others and how destiny shapes which relationships come and go in our lives, it would seem appropriate that the talents behind the film also share deep bonds. In fact, Past Lives writer-director Celine Song says she’s convinced she was married to actress Greta Lee in a past life. That’s the kind of connection the two forged working on one of this year’s standout films, now widely considered a top contender for recognition this awards season. Song and Lee shared details of their work, and the meaningful on- and off-camera relationships behind their poignant film.

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THE SHADOW OF THE SUN – Review by Jennifer Green

The Shadow of the Sun (Sombra del Sol), Venezuela’s submission for this year’s International Feature Film Oscar, is a heartwarming crowd-pleaser featuring stellar lead performances from Carlos Manuel Gonzalez and Anyelo Lopez. The two play somewhat unlikely brothers looking for a way out of their stifling small-town lives. The film stumbles in a couple of key places, but it brings to life a cast of compelling characters and paints a moving portrait of the difficult realities of contemporary life in Venezuela.

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Ashley Avis on WILD BEAUTY: MUSTANG SPIRIT and Saving Horses – Jennifer Green interviews

When writer-director Ashley Avis signed on to direct the remake of Black Beauty, released in 2020 on Disney+, she didn’t know how it would change the course of at least the next several years of her life, leading to her follow-up project, the creation of a foundation, the adoption of multiple wild horses and a new role in advocacy. Avis’s documentary Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West earned her a Special Congressional Commendation from Congresswoman Dina Titus in March and is now nominated for a Critic’s Choice Award for Best Science/Nature Documentary.

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THE BREAKING ICE – Review by Jennifer Green

This lovely story of friendship and a search for identity and meaning is Singapore’s nominee to the International Feature Film Oscar. That is where director Anthony Chen is originally from, but he filmed The Breaking Ice (Ran Dong) in northern China near the Korean border. The borderland setting plays a metaphorical role for its three lead characters, young people all feeling adrift and unsatisfied in a city not their own. And the frigid temperatures of the snowy location adds to the film’s bluish mood, an iciness the trio only just start to melt before the movie ends.

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Sandra Lipski on Filmmaking, Location and Founding Mallorca Film Festival – Jennifer Green interviews

When actor-writer-director Sandra Lipski made her first short film, she wanted to send it to a local festival in Mallorca, where she grew up. She discovered there wasn’t one. “It just really shocked me, because there’s literally a festival, as you know, in every little, tiny town,” she says. “And I just couldn’t believe that this beautiful island didn’t have one.” So, she decided to start her own. “I thought, well, why not just try it?” And that’s how Spain’s Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival (EMIFF) came into being in 2012. It wrapped its twelfth edition on Oct. 24.

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PICTURES OF GHOSTS – Review by Jennifer Green

A love letter to the Brazilian city of Recife as well as to cinemas and urban centers of a bygone era, Pictures of Ghosts is an intelligent documentary with relatively limited audience appeal. Brazil’s sensible nominee to the International Feature Film Oscar, it premiered in Special Screenings at Cannes and offers an evocative exploration of the nation’s own cinema history and golden age of movie theaters.

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THUNDER – Review by Jennifer Green

Thunder (Foudre), Switzerland’s official submission to this year’s International Feature Film Oscar, is an enigmatic and beautifully filmed period piece that could entice viewers (and the Academy) with its mixed-up tale of sexual desire and religious faith. Director Carmen Jaquier and cinematographer Marin Atlan revel in the beauty of the Swiss Alps, and setting the film in 1900 allows for a paring down of visual distractions to just the countryside, the people and spectacular nature.

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FOUR DAUGHTERS – Review by Jennifer Green

Tunisia’s official entry for the International Film Feature film Oscar, Four Daughters is a deeply emotional story told in captivating fashion by combining real people and actors in an unusual blend of reenactments and conversations. The film doesn’t unfurl in straight chronological order. Subjects regularly stop to talk to the camera or to each other about what’s going on in a scene or how they feel now. They’re often framed in doorways or glimpsed in mirrors, perhaps symbolic of the way they are letting us enter their lives and how they’re seeing their own story reflected in reenactments and acting.

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UN AMOR (San Sebastián IFF 2023) – Review by Jennifer Green

Un Amor, director Isabel Coixet’s latest drama playing in competition at the San Sebastián International Film Festival 2023 and based on a best-selling novel by Sara Mesa, is a nuanced and emotional film driven by a powerful lead performance from Spanish star Laia Costa. The film is getting a lot of attention for its portrayal of female sexuality, but its themes go much deeper.

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