THE OLD GUARD – Review by Nikki Baughan

In the hands of director Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Old Guard is a far more subtle and introspective superhero movie than we’re used to seeing. That may have something to do with the fact that it’s a straight-to-streaming Netflix original, but its focus on the emotional and physical toll of saving the world offers a welcome change from the consequence-free carnage that usually heralds the arrival of the summer blockbuster season.

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THE OTHER LAMB – Review by Nikki Baughan

As the audience knows from the off and as Selah comes to realize, this is ultimately a familiar earthbound story of one man’s heinous abuse of power, and the danger of blind faith. And while Selah’s journey to realization and empowerment may not hold many narrative surprises, it’s nevertheless one that commands attention. Powerful performances and a commanding aesthetic make this an arresting watch.

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DARK CITY BENEATH THE BEAT (SXSW)2020 – Review by Nikki Baughan

Baltimore itself is the stage where rappers and poets perform on street corners, dancers hotfoot their way across bridges and through buildings, clubs host sweaty dance-off competitions, where crowds gather to watch those with the best moves crowned King or Queen. And in one poignant sequence, a tulle-clad dancer performs a beautiful mixture of ballet and club moves in the graveyard where Tamika Ray (aka FatGirl), a pioneer of Baltimore dance, lays buried.

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PARADISE HILLS – Review by Nikki Baughan

An off-kilter, steampunk blend of Disney, The Handmaids Tale and The Stepford Wives, writer/director Alice Waddington’s feature debut is entirely as intriguing as that sounds. A visually unique, narratively striking study of society’s attempts to control women, to mold them into an acceptable version of femininity, its determinedly fantastical elements are anchored by its strong themes and excellent performances.

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TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM – Review by Nikki Baughan

Photographer/filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders brings his keen eye for portraiture to this exploration of the life and influence of African American author Toni Morrison, touching on her experiences with segregation, her realisation that the literary discourse was the realm of the white male, her decision to concentrate on the everyday “interior pain” of racism and her determination to fight systemic racial prejudice with the power of her words.

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BIRD BOX – Review by Nikki Baughan

Susanne Bier is a filmmaker with an innate ability to mine the painful truths of the human experience in a way that is both deeply intimate and profoundly universal. And so it is with Bird Box, her first foray into genre filmmaking, that distills the daunting responsibility of parenthood into one woman’s seeming impossible journey of survival in a world overrun by unseeable monsters.

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CAPERNAUM – Review by Nikki Baughan

Joining a host of recent works of both fact and fiction – such as Sudabeh Mortezai’s Joy and Gabrielle Brady’s Island Of The Hungry Ghosts – which highlight the refugee crisis engulfing the globe, Capernaum is a gut-punch reminder that the rise of isolationist politics is leaving swathes of human casualties in its wake. Devastating but utterly essential cinema

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HERE AND NOW – Review by Nikki Baughan

Writer Laura Eason’s screenplay effectively mines the anonymity and isolation of modern life, where people connect more easily through technology than face-to-face; we often see Vivienne surrounded by people but utterly, desperately alone. And if Fabien Constant’s direction sometimes over-eggs the pudding, the emotional truth of the story, and Parker’s nuanced, sympathetic performance, prevent it from straying too far into melodrama.

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ALL ABOUT NINA — Review by Nikki Baughan

An electric turn from Mary Elizabeth Winstead pulses through this striking feature debut from short filmmaker Eva Vives, which effectively shines a light on issues of honesty, identity and equality through the story of a stand-up comedian transplanted from cacophonous New York to the more introspective LA. While the character’s resulting journey of self-discovery may follow familiar lines, it is bracing nevertheless.

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SPOTLIGHT 9/18: Rungano Nyoni, Filmmaker, I AM NOT A WITCH

awfj spotlight black littleRungano Nyoni’s debut feature, I Am Not A Witch could be described as bold filmmaking. The story of an eight-year-old Zambian girl accused of witchcraft is both visceral drama and intelligent, powerful social commentary. Yet for writer/director Nyoni, it was simply a narrative she felt compelled to bring to an audience.

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