After highlighting more than 50 confirmed titles to see this fall, today we turn our attention to the festival-bound films either without distribution or awaiting a release date. Including Venice Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and New York Film Festival titles (as well as a few from the recently concluded Locarno Film Festival), we’ve rounded up 20 pictures that we’ll be checking out over the next few weeks, some of which will hopefully arrive in theaters before year’s end.
Considering the hundreds of available options, it was difficult to narrow down, so we’ll throw out a mention to Colonia, The Family Fang, Janis, Heart of a Dog, Into the Forest, Les Comboys, L’Attesa, Lolo, Maggie’s Plan, The Meddler, Men & Chicken, My Big Night, Sangue Del Mio Sangue, Schneider vs. Bax, The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers, Taj Mahal, and Ville-Marie as well.
Check out our 20 most-anticipated festival premieres below and, in the comments, let us know what you’re most looking forward to.
A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino)
Six years after I Am Love, Luca Guadagnino will finally be returning with A Bigger Splash. Described as a “sexy thriller” set on the island of Pantelleria, it’s a remake of the 1969 French picture La Piscine and follows an uneasy triangle that forms between a couple and a younger woman during the couple’s vacation, leading to a sinister end. (Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson, and Matthias Schoenaertsall star.) Right now it’s only scheduled to show up at Venice, but hopefully Fox Searchlight will give it a release before the end of the year. – Jordan R.
Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack)
Before he took part in films from Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick, and Woody Allen, before he won Oscars for Out of Africa, and even an entire decade before Tootsie exploded at the box-office, Sydney Pollack ventured to The New Temple Missionary Church in Los Angeles to capture the recording of Aretha Franklin‘s live album Amazing Grace. Filmed back in 1972, the resulting footage of over 20 hours was locked up in the Warner Bros. fault for nearly four decades, but now it’s finally being unearthed in edited form at Toronto International Film Festival. – Jordan R
Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson)
Seven years after his dazzling directorial debut Synecdoche, New York, this fall provides another chance to enter the complex mind of Charlie Kaufman. Rather than returning in live-action form, over the last few years he’s been hard at work with co-director Duke Johnson (Community) on a stop-motion animation. Featuring the voice cast of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan, and David Thewlis, it follows a motivational speaker seeking to transcend his monotonous existence. Anomalisa will screen at Venice, TIFF, and likely Telluride, and is shaping up to to be one of most essential fall premieres. – Jordan R.
Chevalier (Athina Rachel Tsangari)
After producing one of the finest films of the century thus far, Yorgos Lanthimos‘ Dogtooth, writer-director Athina Rachel Tsangari garnered some deserved attention for a similar brand of strange with Attenberg, which premiered at Venice in 2010. Five years later, following a few shorts and TV projects, she’s returned with her next feature, Chevalier. Having already premiered at Locarno and been set for TIFF and NYFF, the first beguiling and compelling teaser recently arrived, which reveals a bit of the story following a group of men at sea who attempt to one-up each other in an increasingly dangerous game. – Jordan R.
The Childhood of a Leader (Brady Corbet)
Actor Brady Corbet makes his directorial debut with The Childhood of a Leader, an original project (co-written with Mona Fastvold) concerning a post-World War I leader. Aside from Corbet’s attachment, the film boasts a very curious cast that includes Robert Pattinson, Nymphomaniac’s Stacy Martin, Bérénice Bejo, and Tim Roth, who are no strangers to throwing themselves into such ominous projects. It will certainly be curious to see the 27-year-old, Arizona-born Corbet’s visual inclinations, given his experiences with directors such as Michael Haneke (the Funny Games remake), or directors who want to be Haneke (Sean Durkin, Antonio Campos, Ruben Östlund). There’s not much available on the film, but it will premiere at Venice next month. Whoever does pick up this very intriguing venture should at least keep the title. – Nick A.
Cosmos (Andrzej Żuławski)
Andrzej Żuławski’s first feature in fifteen years could hardly look more promising — so of course it’s yet to get any distribution. One can hope, though, that a smart company will take to the film and finally bring us the man’s first feature in some fifteen years. There’s only so long a man can wait for a gonzo horror feature that invests equal importance in Sabine Azéma and the fish-eye lens. – Nick N.
De Palma (Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow)
Noah Baumbach and Brian De Palma are not filmmakers I’d ever think of pairing together, sensibility-wise, but their friendship more or less ensures that De Palma, a documentation of the latter co-directed by the former and Jake Patlrow (Young Ones), will get up close and personal. The description makes it sound comprehensive — “moves at the speed of De Palma’s thought (and sometimes works in subtle, witty counterpoint) as he goes title by title, covering his life from science nerd to New Hollywood bad boy to grand old man” — and, better yet, passionate, for any true fan knows that nothing should be left to the side. – Nick N.
Desierto (Jonás Cuarón)
Continuing a relationship that began with 2001’s Y Tu Mamá También, Gael García Bernal and Alfonso Cuarón are collaborating once more in Desierto, a Spanish-language drama helmed by Jonás Cuarón, son of the Gravity director. The noted connections don’t stop with familial ties: after co-writing his father’s upcoming film, the elder returns a favor by producing alongside Lucas Akoskin and Alex Garcia. Cuarón‘s second feature — following 2007’s Year of the Nail — as penned alongside Mateo Garcia, follows a pair of illegal immigrants whose attempts to cross the U.S.-Mexico border are impeded by “a drunk American citizen who has taken border patrol into his own hands.” A bond forms, naturally, all of which is much easier when one of them happens to be played by the ever-charismatic Bernal. – Nick N.
The Devil’s Candy (Sean Byrne)
After premiering the delightfully unhinged Australian horror feature The Loved Ones at Toronto back in 2009, director Sean Byrne returns with his follow-up, The Devil’s Candy. Produced by the talented team behind The Guest, Faults, and You’re Next, it concerns a struggling painter who becomes possessed by satanic forces after he and his young family move into their dream home in rural Texas. With the hope that it offers the same bloody life he brought to the genre with his last film, this is our most-anticipated of TIFF’s Midnight Madness slate. – Jordan R.
Equals (Drake Doremus)
Like Crazy writer-director Drake Doremus returns to the indie forefront with his new project, Equals, which will have its World Premiere at Venice. With this project, Doremus takes his curiosity about connections to a futuristic utopia where emotions have been eradicated until some sort of connection between characters (Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart). Appearing alongside this very intriguing pairing are the likes of Jacki Weaver, Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Kate Lyn Sheil, and Toby Huss. Not for nothing, the story is from Moon co-writer Nathan Parker, whose sci-fi imagination could pair quite nicely with Doremus’ solidified knowledge of very human intimacy. – Nick A.
Francofonia (Aleksandr Sokurov)
Following up Faust, one of Russia’s preeminent working directors, Aleksandr Sokurov, has returned with a new drama. Francofonia, which will premiere shortly at Venice before stopping by Toronto, begins “as a portrait of Paris’ world-renowned Louvre Museum,” then “slowly expands into a monumental canvas upon which Sokurov traces France’s role as a dedicated supporter of the arts.” Clocking in at 87 minutes, it’s a bit shorter than his other work, but hopefully just as substantial. – Jordan R.
High-Rise (Ben Wheatley)
British filmmaker Ben Wheatley adds to a résumé of dark, irreverent works with his take on J.G. Ballard‘s 1975 novel. Written by Wheatley’s frequent collaborator Amy Jump, the script centers on a luxury high-rise building where a group of affluent tenants engage in an orgy of destruction. The concept, which recalls David Cronenberg’s Shivers — fitting, since the Canadian adapted Ballard in Crash — should make for a violent satire of classism. The project also marks Wheatley’s move into higher profile territory, as his regular talent roster is replaced with a big-name cast that includes Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, and Elisabeth Moss. – Amanda W.
Hong Kong Trilogy (Christopher Doyle)
Few people have explored Hong Kong as thoroughly and lovingly as Christopher Doyle, but he’s most often done so as a cinematographer. In the director’s chair, his eye and sensibility can take us as close as possible (short of actually going there), making this three-generation look at one of the world’s most vibrant cities something that’s not to be missed. Going by what’s been seen so far, those expectations are not ill-placed. – Nick N.
Junun (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Clocking it at under an hour, Junun is easily the shortest film on this list, but it might be the most-anticipated. Only a year after premiering Inherent Vice at the New York Film Festival, Paul Thomas Anderson will return there with this secret project filmed over the last year in northwest India. The documentary follows his trip with collaborator Jonny Greenwood as he records an album with Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur and a wealth of talented international musicians. Judging from a few behind-the-scenes snaps, it looks to be a handheld, intimate project — a different side of PTA that we’re looking forward to. – Jordan R.
Office (Johnnie To)
Johnnie To, whose recent work was featured on our best films of the half-decade list, returns this fall with something quite unexpected: a workplace musical. Led by Chow Yun-fat and Sylvia Chang, the picture revolves around a company attempting to recover in the wake of the global financial crisis. With the director’s unmatched style for editing and composition, this promises to be one of the the most intriguing titles in the TIFF lineup. – Jordan R.
Miles Ahead (Don Cheadle)
Only appearing in five films in the last five years, actor Don Cheadle has been working on Miles Ahead, his Miles Davis biopic that he writes, directs, and stars in. It was initially known as a passion project, which even had the actor going to crowd-funding to help achieve certain period details. Now, the film is having its world premiere at the New York Film Festival, where distributors Sony Pictures Classics will feel out whether it’s worth releasing the same year as their Hank Williams biopic from director Marc Abraham (with Tom Hiddleston playing the country legend). The full immersion of Cheadle into this project is enough to drive up curiosity, especially considering his talents as an actor and in picking compelling stories. Look for this one towards the end of 2015 with awards buzz in tow or probably somewhere in the middle of 2016. – Nick A.
No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman)
Reactions between Locarno and now have been less than enthused, mostly calling No Home Movie an admirable work in spite of some emotional inaccessibility, but who invalidates other reactions quite like Chantal Akerman? Even if my expectations have shifted from “potential masterpiece” to “wait and see,” I won’t stop waiting and I still very much wish to see, which is more than I can say for 90% of what’s coming in the next few months. Additions to great oeuvres are never anything to disregard. – Nick N.
Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang-soo)
To a certain section of contemporary cinephilia, there can be no doubt that Hong Sang-soo is one of the most creative, consistent, surprising, and perceptive filmmakers working today; having seen all his work, I’m thinking he might actually be our best living screenwriter. His 17th feature (following up last year’s more or less flawless Hill of Freedom) is Right Now, Wrong Then, a romance that, as is his wont, is divided into two parts, each of which acts as a funhouse-mirror version of the other. (The recurring lesson of Hong’s work? People are stupid.) If this lives up to his best work — and just about everyone who’s seen it thus far will tell you that’s the case — it’ll be as cringe-inducing as it is laugh-heavy, inspiring post-screening debates only interrupted by laughs over a remembered line or scenario. – Nick N.
Sunset Song (Terence Davies)
Terence Davies’ next feature has been weirdly absent from most of the fall festivals, but showings at the buyer-heavy TIFF are certain to attract a few interested parties. Whether or not we’ll see his epic on its native 70mm is another matter entirely, but a bit of traction is probably the most we can ask for right now. – Nick N.
A War (Tobias Lindholm)
One can blame the similarly plotted Captain Phillips for taking some of its thunder, but Tobias Lindholm‘s previous feature, A Hijacking, seemed to go under the radar back in 2013, despite critical acclaim. The director is now back with his follow-up, A War, once again starring Pilou Asbæk, this time following a company commander in the Danish army who gets in over his head. It has the makings of an intense experience, and we’re looking forward to checking it out at Venice. – Jordan R.
What festival premiere are you most looking forward to?