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39½

Kara (Beth Lisick) is living her dream—making films and leading a rich, satisfying life in San Francisco, surrounded by art and friends. But as thirtysomething turns into almost 40, the ticking of her biological clock—and Mom’s phone calls—spur Kara into a last-ditch attempt to have it all. Director Kara Herold takes this oft-examined feminist trope and gives it an inventive spin in her quirky auto-fiction, which combines animation and absurdist comedy to narrate Kara’s pursuit of the holy triumvirate: career, kids, and romance. Bay Area literary celeb Lisick is goofily right as Kara, demonstrating a flair for physical comedy whether running through town with a big box of sperm or struggling into the lotus position in a pair of tight vinyl pants. Yet underneath the hilarity, this meta-movie, which features a film about Kara within a film about Kara by a director named Kara, poses serious questions about what it means to be a woman artist in the 21st century.
Sat, Oct 5 5:30 PM
Sun, Oct 13 5:30 PM
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Arid Cut

Sandy, the ever helpful Mother Teresa of 2nd St., suffers from seizures and lives in her car with her nephew, Rail, who came up on a motorcycle from home turf in San Diego, looking for his father in a place called Arid Cut. But nobody knows where it is. His girlfriend, Mitra, is on his trail, determined to help him see what they have together, and convinced he needs her on his mission. Lucille is the Charon of this River Styx. She drives Uber and lives with her mother in a van. Kali, a working girl, is stationed on the tracks with her ineffectual pimp, Oscar. Herbie, who looks like a USC Freshman, sells meth out of Pinto’s RV in order to keep his homeless brother in school. Ziggy, Travis, and Taylor remodel homes which are suddenly being razed under Eminent Domain. The race track is being torn down and a cordon sanitaire of condos going up around the neighborhood. There’s no more West to escape to.
Sat, Oct 12 9:00 PM
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The Artist's Wife

As illustrious abstract painter Richard Smythson (Bruce Dern) prepares for his much-awaited final exhibition, his doting wife Claire (Lena Olin, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, MVFF42) begins to notice some unsettling changes in his behavior. When Richard is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, the comfortable life they share is forever shattered. Struggling to finish the paintings for his new show, Richard tries desperately to hold onto his identity and his deteriorating memories. Having given up a career as an artist to support Richard, Claire finds solace in painting once again and must decide whether she is finally ready to step out of her husband's shadow. The sophomore feature from writer-producer-director Tom Dolby (who produced Call Me by Your Name, MVFF40) is a moving depiction of the devastation of Alzheimer's but also the strength of love in the face of it. With magnificent, nuanced lead performances from Olin and Dern, The Artist's Wife is a deeply poignant j
Sun, Oct 13 1:30 PM
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The Cat and the Moon

Following last year's Hereditary, Alex Wolff delivers another powerful performance as a resilient teenager, with a temperament that's alternatively fragile and explosive, in his directorial debut. Wolff is Nick, a troubled 17-year-old grappling with the death of his jazz musician father and his mother’s substance abuse. After she enters a rehab facility in his hometown Detroit, Nick travels to New York to stay with family friend, Cal (Mike Epps), a former bandmate of his dad’s.
Fri, Oct 11 11:00 AM
Sat, Oct 12 3:00 PM
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Clemency

TRIBUTE TO ALFRE WOODARD: A death penalty story that doubles as a devastating character study, writer-director Chinonye Chukwu’s extraordinary drama—the well-deserved Grand Prize winner at Sundance—opens with Warden Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard in a subtle tour-de-force performance) presiding over the execution of a convict. A seasoned professional with a dozen executions to her name, Bernadine remains unfazed and collected. However, with her life at home with her husband (Wendell Pierce, The Wire) feeling hollow, her off-hours are spent drinking until she’s numb. Her life’s routine becomes irrevocably disrupted by the arrival of the next death row inmate—a man named Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge, Hidden Figures) who is convicted of killing a cop and swears by his innocence—which sends Bernadine toward her inevitable breaking point. Hardly a social justice handwringer, the film expertly examines the moral toll capital punishment takes on everyone involved.
Sun, Oct 6 5:00 PM
Mon, Oct 7 4:00 PM
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De Lo Mio

Two sisters from the US journey to Santiago, Dominican Republic, to reunite with their estranged brother and clear out their grandmother’s house in this affecting family drama. The island nation is not just the story’s backdrop but also its cultural core as the family races against a looming deadline to the clear the property for sale. The house becomes a center of tension, amplified by the past, family dynamics, and cultural differences between the high-spirited, New York-raised sisters, Rita (Sasha Merci) and Carolina (Darlene Demorizi), and older, more serious Dante (Héctor Aníbal), who stayed behind in the Dominican Republic. As the siblings navigate their complex relationship what develops is a thoughtful portrait of what it means to grow up and let go. Diana Peralta’s stunning debut film is a beautiful meditation on familial ties, third culture struggles, and how we define where home is.
Fri, Oct 11 6:15 PM
Sat, Oct 12 7:30 PM
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Dolemite Is My Name

According to wannabe Soul singer/songwriter Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy, back on the big screen with a vengeance!), his ditty, “Ringa-linga-dingdong,” should’ve been a big hit, “but then they signed that James Brown that sucked up all the attention.” With a series of not-so-near hits and many misses, Rudy’s entertainment career is batting zero till he meets brilliant street poet-rapper Rico. Stealing Rico’s shtick and taking it on the road coiffed with an awesome faux ‘fro, Rudy’s transformation into the smokin’, blue-jokin’ “Dolemite” kills it across the chitlin’ circuit, but why stop there when Hollywood might be calling (but isn’t)?
Sat, Oct 5 8:00 PM
Fri, Oct 11 5:00 PM
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Driveways

Director Andrew Ahn follows up his arresting Sundance and Film Independent Spirit Award-winning debut Spa Night with this warm, contemplative study of the need for community and connection. When her estranged sister dies, single mom Kathy (Hong Chau, Downsizing) takes her sensitive young son Cody (Lucas Jaye) on a cross-country trip to clean out and sell her sibling’s house, unaware that the woman was a secret hoarder. As they begin the arduous process of emptying out the home, 8-year-old Cody forms an unlikely bond with a neighbor, Del (Brian Dennehy), a lonely Korean War vet. The blossoming friendship gives Del a new sense of purpose and draws Cody out of his shell as he begins to explore the outside world. Ahn's tight direction and attention to detail allow the strong, understated performances of Chau, Tony-winning stage and screen veteran Dennehy, and newcomer Jaye to shine in this moving drama.
Sun, Oct 6 3:15 PM
Sat, Oct 12 6:15 PM
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Ford v Ferrari

CLOSING NIGHT: Academy Award® winners Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in this energetic, fully loaded biographical drama from acclaimed director James Mangold (Walk the Line, Logan, 3:10 to Yuma). Based on the remarkable true story of visionary American automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and fearless British-born driver Ken Miles (Bale), Ford v Ferrari details how an eccentric, underdog team of engineers battled corporate interference, the laws of physics, and their own personal demons to build the revolutionary GT40 race car for Ford Motor Company. Their purpose? To challenge the dominating race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans competition in France. An outstanding ensemble featuring Jon Bernthal (Sicario), Tracey Letts (Lady Bird, MVFF 2017), and Josh Lucas (American Psycho) as legendary figures of the automotive industry Lee Iacocca, Henry Ford II, and Leo Beebe rounds out this high-octane cinematic tour de force, a c
Sun, Oct 13 4:30 PM4:30 PM4:30 PM
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Fourteen

The latest from New York-based independent filmmaker and critic Dan Sallitt, Fourteen is an affecting and finely tuned portrait of two very different young women, Mara and Jo, who navigate growing pains in their longtime friendship. Mara’s comparatively buttoned-up life is often in conflict with Jo's struggles with anxiety and her difficulties maintaining jobs and relationships. Decidedly lo-fi with a cerebral and minimalist approach, the film features compelling performances from its two leads (Norma Kuhling and Sallitt’s frequent collaborator Tallie Medel). At once a thoughtful, poignant character study and a relationship tale of the platonic variety, Fourteen reminds us that breaking up, in all its iterations, is hard to do.
Fri, Oct 11 2:15 PM
Sun, Oct 13 2:15 PM
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Harriet

Harriet Tubman, the slave who freed herself only to return to the South to liberate others as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, comes to vivid life through Tony Award® winner Cynthia Erivo’s powerhouse performance in this thrilling biopic, beautifully directed by Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou). Born into slavery in 1822, Tubman flees captivity by herself after discovering she’s about to be sold. One hundred treacherous miles to be crossed on foot ahead of a pursuing posse stand between her and independence in Philadelphia.
Sat, Oct 5 7:00 PM
Wed, Oct 9 2:30 PM
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Honey Boy

From a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences, award-winning filmmaker Alma Har’el brings to life a young actor’s stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father through cinema and dreams. Fictionalizing his childhood ascent to stardom, and subsequent adult crash-landing into rehab and recovery, Har’el casts Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges as Otis Lort, navigating different stages in a frenetic career. LaBeouf takes on the daring and therapeutic challenge of playing a version of his own father, an ex-rodeo clown and a felon. Artist and musician FKA twigs makes her feature acting debut, playing neighbor and kindred spirit to the younger Otis in their garden-court motel home. Har’el’s feature narrative debut is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between filmmaker and subject, exploring art as therapy and imagination as hope.
Wed, Oct 9 8:00 PM
Thu, Oct 10 2:15 PM
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The Irishman

Seething with incendiary street malice, Martin Scorsese's epic saga of organized crime in postwar America stars Oscar® winners Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci and divulges the controversial confessions of mob hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (De Niro), his relationship to the infamous Bufalino crime family via Russell Bufalino (Pesci), and his involvement with the still-unsolved disappearance of notorious labor organizer Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). Penned by Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York) and based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt, The Irishman is the ninth feature collaboration between De Niro and Scorsese (and their first since 1995's Casino).
Tue, Oct 8 6:30 PM
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Jojo Rabbit

Johannes Betzler is having a rough year. His weekend at Hitler Youth camp was a disaster, and he’s now been assigned menial tasks for the Nazi Party (as well as an insulting nickname). As he confesses to his imaginary best friend Adolf Hitler (played hilariously by director Taika Waititi), "Jojo" just wants to serve the cause. And so Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, MVFF37) takes us down a surreal historical rabbit hole where the jabs at fascism are fast and Führer-ous. But he also shows how buffoons are often the most dangerous monsters and that the most casual cruelties can be found in your own backyard. With fine support from Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Thomasin McKenzie (the breakout star of last year's Leave No Trace), the film’s wit is dry, its humor broad, but the stakes are perilously high. Like Life Is Beautiful, this absurdist fable amidst real-life horror illustrates that few are truly innocent when faced with deadly moral choi
Sun, Oct 6 5:30 PM
Thu, Oct 10 3:15 PM
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Just Mercy

OPENING NIGHT: Monroeville, Alabama was To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee’s lifelong home. It was there, in 1988, that African American Walter McMillian (Oscar® winner Jamie Foxx) was sentenced to death for killing a white woman. Those two facts have more than a city in common, as it is a real-life, modern-day Atticus Finch in the form of recent Harvard Law grad Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) who challenges a corrupt, racist system to free an innocent man. Foxx and Jordan deliver indelible performances alongside standout supporting cast members Brie Larson, Tim Blake Nelson, and Rob Morgan in Destin Daniel Cretton’s (Short Term 12) gripping drama adapted from famed civil rights attorney Stevenson’s searing memoir. The director creates a rich tapestry interweaving observations of McMillian’s close friendships with other death-row prisoners, Stevenson’s tense detective work among often hostile townspeople to uncover the truth of the case, and riveting courtroom s
Thu, Oct 3 7:00 PM7:00 PM7:00 PM7:00 PM7:00 PM7:30 PM
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Knives Out

Renowned mystery author Harlan Thrombrey (Christopher Plummer) has been found dead, and while the cops call it a suicide, private detective Benoit Bland (Daniel Craig, irresistible in a chicken-fried accent) has his doubts. With no shortage of suspects in the Thrombrey clan, Benoit teams up with Harlan’s loyal nurse Marta (Ana de Armas, Blade Runner 2049) to unravel the mystery. Flashbacks ensue and lies are revealed, but this unlikely (but very likable) Holmes and Watson find that as the felonies pile up, the clues and the questions only get murkier. Writer-director Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) demonstrates his expertise in clever plotting and creating vivid characters in a whodunit (and howdunit) that would make Agatha Christie proud. Graced with fun supporting turns from Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, LaKeith Stanfield, and Toni Collette to name but a few, Knives Out will keep you guessing to the very end in a story with a steely gaze, pl
Fri, Oct 4 8:00 PM
Wed, Oct 9 11:30 AM
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The Lighthouse

SPOTLIGHT ON ROBERT PATTINSON: In his eagerly anticipated follow-up to The Witch, director Robert Eggers enlists the prodigious talents of Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe for a stunning Gothic thriller—winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes—set on a tumultuous isle off the coast of New England. Teetotalling young apprentice Ephraim Winslow (Pattinson) begins a four-week stint tending to the island’s lighthouse under the tutelage of the Ahabian 'wickie' Thomas Wake (Dafoe). As a monstrous storm approaches, Ephraim begins to unearth the mysteries of the island, the lighthouse, and its mysterious keeper, and his curiosity is rewarded with blindingly incendiary results. Shot on stunning black-and-white 35mm film and loosely inspired by the writings of Herman Melville and poet Sarah Orne Jewett as well as the diaries of late-19th century lighthouse keepers, Eggers sets the stage for a wildly impressive acting showdown between two powerhouse artists, who deliver riveting full-bodied
Sat, Oct 5 7:30 PM
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Marriage Story

SPOTLIGHT: Returning to the themes of one of his most acclaimed films, The Squid and the Whale (MVFF 2005), writer-director Noah Baumbach offers another alternately funny and deeply moving snapshot of a marriage in its final stages. With divorce proceedings in full swing as the film opens, New York City theatre director Charlie (Adam Driver) and LA-bound actress Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) have promised to keep their separation an amicable one, not just for each other but for their young son as well, but hurtful admissions and vicious verbal spats quickly sour those ambitions. As Driver and Johansson deliver rich, layered performances at Marriage Story’s heart, Baumbach (who swears the film isn’t autobiographical) surrounds his stars with one of the year’s strongest ensembles—Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Merritt Wever, and Julie Hagerty—as he jumps back and forth through Nicole and Charlie’s relationship to capture a kaleidoscopic, bittersweet tale of lost and found
Sat, Oct 12 6:30 PM6:30 PM
Sun, Oct 13 11:00 AM
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