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Fall 2015 Preview: Our 20 Most-Anticipated Festival Premieres

Written by on August 27, 2015 

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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)

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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 SwintonRalph 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)

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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)

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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)

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After producing one of the finest films of the century thus far, Yorgos LanthimosDogtooth, 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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Continuing a relationship that began with 2001’s Y Tu Mamá TambiénGael 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 GarciaCuarón‘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)

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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)

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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.

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