With more than 150 films, the Atlantic Film Festival brings local talent, Oscar contenders and international flair to Halifax. Choosing what to watch is not an easy task. Here’s a top 10 list on what to check out.
Halifax filmmaking takes centre stage in the drama Heartbeat. Set in the Halifax North End, poet/songwriter Tanya Davis plays Justine, a musician who can’t overcome stage fright or stop sleeping with her ex-boyfriend. A series of events lead Davis to turn back to music. Directed by Andrea Dorfman, the film is a follow up to the successful Dorfman/Davis collaboration, How to Be Alone, the 2010 short film viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube.
Friday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. Running time is 96 minutes.
Perhaps one of the most buzz worthy films at the festival, Nightcrawler is an intense crime thriller about the dangers of going too far for success. Anchored by a commanding performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, the film follows Lou Bloom, an overly ambitious freelance journalist building his career through broadcast crime reporting. Rene Russo plays a veteran journalist helping Bloom along in his dark, twisted journey.
Friday, Sept. 12 at 9:45 p.m. Running time is 117 minutes.
State of Mine
Photographer Chris Geworsky goes deep into the mind of musicians in the documentary State of Mine. The film follows 7 musicians as Geworsky and director Jennifer Hogg attempt to record the intimate connection between artists and their music. The result is a glimpse into the personal experience of performance. After the film, audiences will get to see the artists up close at through a photography exhibition at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
Saturday, Sept. 13 at 12 p.m. Running time is 45 minutes.
Lesley Crewe’s novel comes to life in the film Relative Happiness. The movie follows the adventures of Lexie Ivy, a young woman running a bed and breakfast in the south shore of Nova Scotia and preparing for her sister’s wedding. Crewe, a Nova Scotia native, keeps the story moving along nicely in this romantic comedy with lots of betrayal, love and a mysterious stranger in town.
Saturday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. Running time is 94 minutes.
Edge of East
Take a glimpse into the fringe communities of Nova Scotia in Edge of East, a tale of three different and interesting subcultures in the province. The documentary covers the UFO believers of Shag Harbour; the steampunks, a group of science fiction aficionados of steam power technology; and the Cowboy Yodelers of Kings County.
Sunday, Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. Running time is 45 minutes.
Winter Sleep (Kis uykusu)
This Turkish film caused a ruckus at the Cannes Film Festival with its whopping running time of 196 minutes. Yet deep beneath its marathon run is a really good film. Winter Sleep is a tale about class divide between the rich and poor through the story of a mountain resort owner and the locals. Audiences at Cannes certainly enjoyed the film; it won the coveted Palme d’Or.
Monday, Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. Running time is 196 minutes.
This is Where I Leave You
The dark comedy lives on in This is Where I Leave You. Four adult siblings arrive home for their father’s funeral and try to cope living together for one week. The supporting cast is quite stellar with Jason Bateman (TV’s Arrested Development), Tiny Fey (TV’s 30 Rock), Jane Fonda and Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids).
Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m. Running time is 103 minutes.
The sports film subgenre continues to grow with Foxcatcher, a film following the wrester Mark Schultz (played by the hunky Channing Tatum) in his training for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Just as Moneyball took a unique angle at storytelling, Foxcatcher is a not a typical sports film. This early Oscar contender takes deep psychological turns and showcases the complexities of human relationships. Steve Carell steps out the comedic world to play John du Pont, the wealthy heir of the du Pont estate, to help Schultz train for the Olympics. Mark Ruffalo plays Schultz’s brother and Vanessa Redgrave is plays du Pont’s disapproving mother.
Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. Running time is 134 minutes.
Maps to the Stars
AFF closes the festival with a satirical look at Hollywood celebrity in the film Maps to the Stars. Director David Cronenberg is the king of morbid, fascinating characters. He’s perhaps best known for his films A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Cronenberg casts his cynical view on fame through the eyes of the Weiss family. This film is stocked with an eclectic mix of characters played by Julianne Moore, Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska, Robert Patterson, John Cusack and Carrie Fisher.
Thursday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. Running time is 111 minutes.
Remember the sweet, dashing Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey? Dan Stevens is no longer the proper English gentleman in The Guest. He plays David, the young soldier staying with the Peterson family after claiming to be a friend of their dead son. Slowly, who David is and what he’s capable of is revealed in this intense thriller.
Thursday, Sept. 18 at 11:45 p.m. Running time is 99 minutes.