THE LISTENER (Tribeca 2023) – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

In the wee hours of the morning, a woman walks onto her porch, talking on the phone with someone she’s just met. The caller, a college professor freshly out of a job, has no close family or friends—and no rational argument against killing herself. She didn’t always think this way, she says, her voice calm, analytical. “Sometimes the energy to live exceeds the benefit.” What to say to someone like her? As the conversation unfolds over twenty-six minutes in the meditative drama The Listener, we’re riveted, a testament to the power of empathy and connection in a world often aching with loneliness.

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THE YEAR BETWEEN – Review by Nadine Whitney

For a debut film The Year Between is a gem, but beyond the fact it is Heller’s first feature, the movie stands on its own as an accomplished piece about how infuriating it can be to be mentally ill. The Year Between is witty, authentic, and ultimately kind to almost every character in Clemence’s orbit, including Clemence herself. Clemence may not feel like she has any dignity and often acts in a manner that actively undermines whatever dignity she may have, but Heller skilfully sees that sometimes just doing your best to make it through is good enough and that in that there is grace and, if you’re lucky, love.

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THE DEATH OF STALIN – Review by Martha P. Nochimson

You can’t get a better deflector for these dark days in the United States than a serio-comic farce set in the now defunct Soviet Union in 1953, as the mammoth country was given an opportunity to emerge from the rigid structure of Stalin’s tyranny. The Death of Stalin (2017) directed by political satirist Armando Ianucci is such film, a comic tour de force about the anarchy hidden within despotism.

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