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23 Walks

Over the course of 23 dog walks across the four dynamically changing seasons of north London, two senior singletons and their personable pooches—Dave and his German Shepherd, Tilly; Fern and her Yorkshire Terrier, Henry—slowly evolve from strangers to sweethearts. A rocky first encounter where the two dedicated dog walkers quibble over leash etiquette eventually leads to gentler run-ins along their favorite nature paths. When happenstance shifts to deliberate meetings, Dave and Fern’s conversations get deeper just as their walks extend longer. As the prospect of romance blossoms in front of them, can Dave, Fern, Tilly, and Henry start a life together as one, or will carefully guarded secrets prevent this union from forming? The palpable chemistry and effortless charm generated by Dave Johns (I, Daniel Blake, MVFF39) and Alison Steadman (Life Is Sweet, MVFF14) fill every frame of this heartwarming, emotionally resonant love story from Oscar®-nominated director Paul Morr
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As much a timeless love story as a document of a hidden historical chapter, Ammonite—Francis Lee’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to God’s Own Country—digs deep into the past to reveal truths ripe for unearthing. Self-trained paleontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) knew the secret language of the wind-whipped seaside cliffs of Dorset, and only to her did the silent landscape reveal its past. In 19th century England, during an era when women could neither vote nor hold membership in the scientific societies of the day, Anning was obliged to sell foraged fossils to support her groundbreaking research, her mother, and herself. When she is hired on as a companion for Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), the young wife of a visiting geologist, another secret language is born: of shared loneliness, intimacy, and unquenchable desire. Winslet’s simmering, understated portrait of Mary is as powerful as the landscape itself, and Ronan’s Charlotte provides the tidal force that unle
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Apples (Mila)

In this surreal and beguiling comedy, a mysterious worldwide pandemic is leaving people stricken with sudden bouts of amnesia. It comes with no warning and no explanation, but thanks to an innovative company, it may come with hope for recovery. Aris (an exquisitely deadpan Aris Servetalis) is the latest afflicted amnesiac to enroll in an unusual at-home rehabilitation program that guides patients in constructing new identities from scratch. Following daily instructions left on cassette tapes by doctors to create fresh memories, Aris embarks upon an enlightening journey of new-self discovery, with the help of Anna (Sofia Georgovassili), who is a few steps further in the process. With his debut feature, Christos Nikou—who previously worked as an assistant director on films by Yorgos Lanthimos and Richard Linklater—instantly joins the ranks of the great Greek New Wave filmmakers, spinning darkly imaginative and poignant yarns set in a world where something is just slightly askew. Funny, s
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Bandar Band

Director of 2002’s Women’s Prison and prolific producer of women’s issue films, Manijeh Hekmat brings her keen documentary eye and deep empathy for Iran’s regular folk to this song-infused road movie shot against the cataclysmic floods that submerged large swaths of the country in the spring of 2019. For Bandar Band’s three youthful musicians traveling to Tehran in hopes of a big break, the capital city means more than just a chance at stardom; it’s a gateway to the wider world. But roads have become rivers, and bridges impassable barriers as the waters rise. Encounters along the way with friends, rescue workers, and the displaced, tend to buoy the trio’s resolve, but as they find themselves fording the same waters time and again, their against-all-odds gumption begins to sink. By the end, an unreachable Tehran becomes less a metaphor for a better life than a reminder that what one does along the journey may be worth more than the destination itself.
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Helloooooo, world—meet Binti!! She is a 12-year-old vlogger celebrating her 1,000th YouTube subscriber and ready to take the internet by storm. Binti and her Congolese father, Jovial, live in Belgium without legal documentation, trying to stay one step ahead of the law as they pursue their dreams of being artists and making a home. A chance encounter with a troubled boy, Elias, and his single mom changes the course of all their lives as Binti and Elias join forces to improve the world, starting with saving the endangered okapi… and perhaps the romantic fate of their parents as well. This award-winning debut packs a punch with an incredibly charming cast (including father and daughter actors who bring vivid warmth to the roles of Jovial and Binti), bright and energetic storytelling, and a real-world look at immigration that brings a complex issue into relatable focus for kids and adults. Age 9+
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Blithe Spirit

OPENING NIGHT: Oscar® winner Judi Dench ascends to the astral plane as the unctuously inept spiritualist Madame Arcati in Edward Hall’s spectacular adaptation of Noël Coward’s 1941 theatrical hit. Blithe Spirit manifests itself in and around the palatial home of wannabe screenwriter/sponger Charles Condomine (a marvelous Dan Stevens), and his Hollywood-obsessed wife Ruth (a wondrous Isla Fisher). Suffering from a ghastly combination of writers’ block and genuine lack of talent and motivation, Condomine entreats Madame Arcati to conduct a séance in his home, receiving much more than he bargained for, in the shape-shifting form of Elvira (a spellbinding Leslie Mann), his ex-wife and American Dream-cum-nightmare. Add to the mix a guileless housekeeper and a cantankerous cook, and you’ve got a recipe for some otherworldly merriment and mayhem that stands the test of time after time, alongside timely jabs at male chauvinism.
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What profound secrets live in the heart of a healer? Veteran Polish director Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa; Spoor, MVFF40) explores the deeply complex character of renowned Czech herbalist and healer Jan Mikolášek. A gardener’s son who committed his life to heal thousands of rich and poor patients alike beginning in the 1930s, Mikolášek refused to be called a doctor, though his plant-based treatments and dietary focus can be seen as precursors to contemporary holistic and integrative medicine. A pioneer of this field, Mikolášek was widely mocked as the “oracle of urine,” even as he cured famous figures across Europe. Weaving youthful flashbacks through the trial he endured under Communist rule in the 1950s, Holland doesn’t shy away from the myriad conflicts within Mikolášek’s soul, examining his trauma, shame, sexuality, and faith. Splitting the role of Mikolášek at different points in his life, father-son duo Ivan and Josef Trojan bring this fascinating figure to life
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The Father

In what will be remembered as one of his finest roles, Anthony Hopkins stars alongside fellow Oscar® winner Olivia Colman in this powerful examination of a caring father-daughter relationship as he grapples with a life that’s become increasingly racked by confusion and disorientation. Spry octogenarian Anthony (Hopkins) loves the freedom of living alone in his spacious London apartment, but with recent lapses in memory and lucidity, his devoted daughter Anne (Colman, exceptional as always) has an uphill battle trying to convince her stubborn father to accept the help of a caretaker before her imminent move to Paris.
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The Heist of the Century (El robo del siglo)

OPENING NIGHT ONLINE: Buckle up for this wildly entertaining ride through the plotting, prepping, and execution of one of the greatest bank robberies in Argentinian history. Saturated with eye-popping color and infused with droll humor, director Ariel Winograd injects Hollywood heist tropes steeped in heavy doses of Tarantino and Ritchie, stylishly matching the sheer audacity of this real-life band of brothers’ ingenious criminal work. Based on the true story of the 2006 Banco Rio heist in Buenos Aires, the plot cleverly intertwines the thieves’ paths of assembling, planning, and implementing their plan to net a potential $25 million payday. The clever casting coup of Guillermo Francella (The Secret in Their Eyes) and Diego Peretti (The German Doctor, MVFF36) heightens the tale’s witty rapport, while Winograd showcases an incisive attention to detail and a mastery of
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Here We Are

Here We Are, a tender drama about a father and son who will soon be separated, features deeply felt performances from Shai Avivi (One Week and a Day, MVFF39) and Noam Imber in this emotional road movie. Aharon (Avivi) has put aside everything—including his ex-wife—to care for his autistic son Uri (Imber), who is getting too old to still be living at home. But instead of taking Uri to a special facility as he’s been instructed, Aharon decides to take his son on one last adventure. Directed by Nir Bergman (Broken Wings), this official Cannes selection title compassionately dramatizes the challenges parents face raising autistic children while also exploring the ways that fathers hover over their children, not so much to protect them but as a way to distract themselves from their own anxiety about letting go. With a naturalistic give-and-take between the two actors, Bergman meticulously charts how both men learn to say goodbye without ever saying a word.
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SPOTLIGHT ON CLARE DUNNE: Delivering an uncompromisingly powerful performance, beloved Irisih stage actor Clare Dunne makes a triumphant transition to the silver screen, working from a beautiful and deft script she co-wrote with Malcolm Campbell (What Richard Did). Sandra (Dunne) finds herself and her two spirited young daughters floating between temporary living situations, none of them ideal or sustainable. One night, at the height of desperation, Sandra’s witty and precocious eldest daughter Emma tells a bedtime story and unwittingly gifts her an idea—if the perfect home doesn’t exist, why not build it herself? The third feature from Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!; The Iron Lady), which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is a stirring and profoundly empathetic tale of empowerment and reclamation.
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Jackie & Oopjen

Night at the Museum vibes infuse this charming friendship tale between a precocious 12-year-old and a Rembrandt painting come to life. Jackie knows Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum like the back of her hand since her mom’s job as a conservator allows her to traipse through the rooms like a second home. When a pair of acclaimed Rembrandt portraits are installed—drawing excited crowds and press coverage—a bit of magic seems to arrive as well. Oopjen, one of the painting subjects, catches sight of Jackie and, mistaking her for her long-lost sister, steps out of her frame and straight into Jackie’s life. Antics and bonding ensue as the two team up to find a portrait of Oopjen’s beloved sister while adapting Oopjen hilariously to 21st century life, outwitting unscrupulous criminals, and making time for some Snapchat-worthy BFF goals. Light, heartwarming comedy splashed with a bit of art history makes great viewing for all ages. Age 9+
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One of the most talked-about films at both Sundance and the Berlinale this year, Jumbo is a neon-lit fable of an unlikely romance that unfolds in the after hours of an amusement park. Following her breakout role in Portrait of a Lady on Fire (MVFF42), Noémie Merlant delivers a fearless yet delicate performance as Jeanne, an introverted young woman whose boisterous mother (a winning Emmanuelle Bercot) hopes she’ll meet some eligible men at her new job working the graveyard shift as a cleaner at a Belgian theme park. At night, Jeanne finds herself inexplicably seduced by the park’s latest attraction, a Tilt-a-Whirl that Jeanne affectionately calls Jumbo, and romantic feelings start to arise within her. Best of all, these feelings are not unrequited. With astonishing production design and visual effects, first-time director Zoé Wittock injects the film with buoyant humor and surrealist touches. Giving a whole new twist to the term “love object,” Jumbo is an exuberant
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Kings of Mulberry Street

Real life is not like the movies, but don’t tell that to charismatic Ticky, a nine-year-old troublemaker who runs across rooftops and rakishly finger-combs his long black hair like a genuine Bollywood action hero. Perhaps, like Ticky’s timid new neighbor Harold, you’ve never heard of superstar Amitabh Bachchan or Masala films—that unique Indian mash-up of gritty violence, slapstick comedy, melodrama, and musical—but no worries, man… Ticky will teach you, the same way he recruits Harold to be his unlikely partner to take down the local hoodlum, Raja, who is terrorizing both of their impoverished families. Set in 1989 and shot on location in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province, featuring a fun, foot-tapping soundtrack, this paean to classic 1980s Bollywood keeps the focus where it should be: on the budding, moving friendship between two struggling boys who need each other more than they know. Definitely, don’t miss the exuberant, end-credits song-and-dance. Age 11+
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Master Cheng (Mestari Cheng)

It’s a beautiful summer day in Lapland, when a mysterious Chinese gentleman named Cheng and his young son arrive in a remote village looking for an individual no one seems to know. Local diner owner Sirrka offers them a place to stay, and she sure is glad she did when Cheng improvises a delicious noodle dish for a surprise busload of hungry Chinese tourists. Soon Sirkka’s regulars have embraced Cheng and his revelatory new menu, which also offers health benefits over their usual Finnish fare. Like his filmmaking brother Aki, director Mika Kaurismäki (The Girl King, MVFF38; Road North, MVFF35) favors stories about outsiders, and this lyrical “fish out of water” comedy is a sweet romance buoyed by mouth-watering close-ups of Cheng’s dishes and spectacular vistas of the sea and landscape. It’s Tai Chi meets the sauna, with reindeer on the side, as the growing connection between Cheng and Sirrka proves that food has the power to bring cultures together.
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My Donkey, My Lover & I (Antoinette dans les Cévennes)

A fresh take on the oft-overlooked meet-cute subgenre city-girl-meets-country-mule, this bright comedy centers on Antoinette, a Parisian school teacher (Laure Calamy, Call My Agent!) who impulsively decides to stalk her married lover on his familial hiking vacation astride an adorable ass named Patrick. The 120-mile journey undertaken by writer Robert Louis Stevenson, documented in his classic Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, is a popular route for 21st century backpackers, but few would bother doing the trek laden with heavy feed sacks and a mulish companion—all of which is news to our unsinkable, undaunted Antoinette in her daisy dukes, tugging her fuchsia rolling luggage behind her.
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The Names of the Flowers (Los nombres de las flores)

Almost 50 years have passed since Che Guevara was executed in a Bolivian schoolhouse, and officials are staging an anniversary celebration. Determined to be a part of the event is Julia, the teacher who served captive Che his last meal, a bowl of soup, and to whom the revolutionary recited a poem about flowers. Every day, to stake her claim in this tiny patch of history, Julia shuffles up the dusty road to the school carrying a clay tureen of soup and a vase of flowers. The celebration’s planners however doubt her story, casting about for a more believable narrator for the tourists. But who’s to say whose version of history is true—and does it matter? With eye-popping cinematography, this film is like a series of paintings come to life, from still lifes in Julia’s kitchen to grand Andean landscapes. It is a rumination on truth’s fluidity and the realities of life on the arid plateau, and the film’s gorgeous imagery, like Julia’s story, endures.
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Ruthless Souls

Jackalope aka “Jackie,” a queer Ojibwe artist in Winnipeg, is stuck in a cycle of mourning, half-heartedly attempting therapy treatments and immersing herself in her art to avoid confronting her pain following the sudden loss of her partner. When her two lifelong best friends unexpectedly break up, Jackie’s world spins further out of its orbit. But with the strength of each other’s unconditional love and support, these three fierce and 'ruthless' souls discover that in facing their darkest moments together, they can begin to heal. Vibrantly woven together with original songs, powerful spoken word poetry, and dance, Métis director Madison Thomas’ sophomore feature is a love letter to all artists and dreamers who are nourished by the support of their inclusive communities. A courageous down-to-the-bone portrait of healing and closure and a testament to the resilience of one’s chosen family, Ruthless Souls is a beautiful reminder that vulnerability can be powerful and that those wh
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