Queue's Guide to Festival Season 2022
Fall just might be the best time of year to be a cinephile. As the summer months recede, festival season comes into focus, with some of the industry’s most lauded filmmakers unveiling their highly anticipated works at premiere events, each with its own rich history and singular spirit: The Venice Film Festival is all red-carpet elegance; the Telluride Film Festival, with its mountain setting, offers more casual and intimate charms; and the Toronto International Film Festival falls somewhere in between, hosting glitzy galas and exclusive parties with A-list talent as well as public screenings designed to appeal to an array of audiences. Unfolding later in September and into October, both the New York Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival lure metropolitan tastemakers and local cinephiles with programming again designed to highlight only the best in upcoming cinema. What all these prestigious events share is a commitment to showcasing the exciting and diverse titles most likely to drive the cultural conversation in the coming weeks and months.
With Venice due to kick off the annual festival frenzy on August 31, Queue spotlights the extraordinary Netflix projects that are sure to generate the loudest buzz as they make their rounds on the seasonal circuit.
It’s been called Noah Baumbach’s most ambitious and expansive film: White Noise sees the acclaimed writer-director — known for The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg, and 2019’s Best Picture nominee Marriage Story — adapt Don DeLillo’s groundbreaking postmodern novel, a satire of modern American life. The 1980s-set story reunites Baumbach with his Marriage Story star Adam Driver, who plays Jack Gladney, a middle-aged professor who teaches Hitler studies at a midwestern liberal arts college. Married five times to four different women, Jack lives with current spouse Babette (played by Baumbach’s real-life romantic and frequent creative partner Greta Gerwig) and their brood of children and stepchildren, but the already uneasy rhythms of their daily lives become truly unmoored when a toxic cloud settles over their community. Woefully ill-equipped to deal with the environmental threat, Jack and Babette are forced to confront their anxiety around death in very different ways.
With a supporting cast that includes Jodie Turner-Smith, Don Cheadle, André Benjamin, Raffey Cassidy, Sam Nivola, May Nivola, and Lars Eidinger, White Noise will open both the Venice Film Festival on August 31 and the New York Film Festival on September 30.
BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
For his first film since 2015’s Oscar-winning historical drama The Revenant, Alejandro González Iñárritu chose to return to his native Mexico to tell the story of a renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker (Daniel Giménez Cacho) working through an existential crisis as he grapples with his identity, familial relationships, and the folly of his memories. Iñárritu wrote the script for BARDO with his Biutiful and Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) collaborator Nicolás Giacobone and shot the film in 65 mm alongside cinematographer Darius Khondji (Amour, Uncut Gems, Midnight in Paris). To date, Iñárritu has largely kept the film’s details secret, but it’s sure to be a visually compelling, intellectually engaging cinematic experience when it debuts at Venice on September 1, and then again at the Telluride Film Festival days later.
Uncompromising Australian filmmaker Andrew Dominik sought for years to bring Joyce Carol Oates’s prize-winning novel Blonde to the screen. At Venice on September 8, he’ll finally premiere his longtime passion project, starring Knives Out actor Ana de Armas in a career-making turn as Marilyn Monroe. Offering a fictionalized account of the troubled inner life of the Hollywood icon born Norma Jeane Baker, Blonde has been the subject of considerable speculation ever since it received an N.C.-17 rating. But the subject matter required an unflinching approach, according to Dominik: The film depicts intimate moments from Monroe’s life, from her earliest days in Los Angeles as Norma Jeane Baker to her final hours. “She’s deeply traumatized, and the trauma necessitates a split between a public self and a private self, which is the story of every person, but in a famous person, it’s more exaggerated,” Dominik told Queue.
After building an impressive career in the world of music videos (including M.I.A,’s “Bad Girls”), French filmmaker Romain Gavras has established himself as a director of compelling narrative features (Our Day Will Come, The World is Yours). His latest, Athena, furthers his reputation as a singular artist — the film follows three siblings whose lives are thrown into chaos hours after their youngest brother dies at the hands of police. Gavras penned the script for the film with Elias Belkeddar and Ladj Ly, whose searing 2019 feature directorial debut Les Misérables earned an Oscar nomination for Best International Film. Athena will premiere at Venice on September 2.
No one combines hypnotic pacing, evocative electronica, and neon-hued brutality like Nicolas Winding Refn. The Scandinavian savant (Drive, The Neon Demon) sends an androgynous young protagonist Miu (Angela Bundalovic) down the rabbit hole of Denmark’s lurid criminal underworld in this striking and surreal series. Although it won’t compete for Venice’s top prize, the coveted Golden Lion, the six episodes, presented in their entirety at the festival as a special screening on September 9 and 10, are sure to capture attention nonetheless.
With an early start out of the gate at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival in August, Descendant — the latest feature-length film from documentarian Margaret Brown (The Order of Myths) — kicked off festival season with a star-studded screening that featured opening remarks from former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, whose production company Higher Ground executive-produced the documentary.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Following their Emmy Award-winning portrayal of Princess Diana in The Crown, Emma Corrin stars as Lady Constance Chatterley, the heroine of D.H. Lawrence’s steamy novel about a married aristocrat who embarks on a passionate affair with a working-class man (Jack O’Connell). Directed by French filmmaker Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, who earned praise for her sensitive prison rehabilitation drama The Mustang, the film sees its heroine straining against the limits of an unhappy relationship and the conservative social conventions of the early twentieth century as she seeks intimacy and fulfillment. Lady Chatterley’s Lover will premiere in September at the Telluride Film Festival.
Florence Pugh (Little Women, Midsommar) stars as skeptical English nurse Lib Wright, summoned to Ireland to observe an 11-year-old heralded as a miracle — a devout “fasting girl,” who claims she doesn’t need food to survive. But the longer Lib spends in the girl’s company, the more she suspects sinister forces are at work. The screenplay was written by author Emma Donoghue (Room), Alice Birch, and director Sebastián Lelio, whose 2017 film A Fantastic Woman took home the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film. Debuting at the Telluride Film Festival in September, The Wonder translates the themes at the heart of the novel into a compelling psychological thriller.
Opening the Toronto International Film Festival is this inspiring film based on the true story of sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini who fled war-torn Syria for Europe as teenagers — and eventually made their way to swim at the 2016 Rio Olympics with the first-of-its-kind refugee team comprised of athletes from four different countries. Lebanese filmmaker Sally El Hosaini (My Brother the Devil) directs and co-writes the screenplay with Jack Thorne (Enola Holmes, The Aeronauts).
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Writer-director Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) sends Daniel Craig’s Southern detective Benoit Blanc to Greece on a brand-new assignment in this anticipated sequel to one of 2019’s biggest hits, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival. Like its predecessor, the upcoming whodunit features another all-star ensemble, including Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Madelyn Cline, Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista.
Wendell & Wild
Also celebrating its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival is the latest from stop-motion animation legend Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline). The comedy-adventure follows a pair of demon brothers — played by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key — who team up with a teenager (Lyric Ross) contending with guilt over the death of her parents. Peele also co-wrote the script with Selick and signed on to produce the film. “It’s a complex film,” Selick told Queue. “It’s going to be a little bit of work for people, but I would like to think it’s rewarding.”
A Jazzman’s Blues
For his latest film, which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival, super mogul Tyler Perry reached back to a passion project from his past — revisiting the first script he ever wrote. Perry directs this intimate twentieth-century drama that traces the fallout from a doomed romance that begins in the Jim Crow South. Joshua Boone and Solea Pfeiffer star as earnest young lovers Bayou and Leanne. Although kept apart by circumstance, Boone never loses hope that he might find his way back to his beloved, even after finding success as a nightclub performer in Chicago. For the film’s score, Perry collaborated with two-time Oscar-nominated composer Terence Blanchard.
The Good Nurse
Oscar winners Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain star in the true-crime thriller about serial killer Charles Cullen — and the woman who helped bring him to justice. Based on Charles Graeber’s nonfiction book The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder, and debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film sees Redmayne take on the role of Cullen, who killed as many as 300 people between 1988 and 2003 while working as a nurse in hospitals in the northeastern U.S. Chastain plays his colleague Amy Loughren who begins to harbor suspicions that her friend is a danger to his patients. “In reading about Amy, I found a story where there was one individual who, with simple humanity, did what the system wasn’t able to do,” says director Tobias Lindholm (A War). “It was about a hardworking woman who had humanity as her superpower.”
My Father’s Dragon
Ruth Stiles Gannett’s beloved children’s novel about a young boy named Elmer Elevator and his fantastic journey to rescue a young dragon named Boris comes to the screen in this beautifully animated film set to premiere at the B.F.I. London Film Festival. Directed by Oscar nominee Nora Twomey (The Secret of Kells, Wolfwalkers) from a screenplay by fellow Oscar nominee Meg LeFauve (Inside Out), the film features an impressive all-star voice cast led by Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) as Elmer and Stranger Things’s star Gaten Matarazzo as Boris, with supporting performances from Golshifteh Farahani, Dianne Wiest, Rita Moreno, and more. “What I love about the book, and what Ruth really felt was its heart, is that Elmer thinks for himself,” Twomey told Queue earlier this year. “Even when that honesty does not reflect well on Elmer, he faces that truth and is transformed by it.”
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio
Academy Award-winning Mexican auteur Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth) brings his singular sensibility to one of the world’s most enduring fairy tales with the beautifully rendered stop-motion animated Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, also set to make its world premiere at the London Film Festival. David Bradley voices grieving widower Geppetto, who resolves to use his wood-carving skills to fashion a new son for himself, but the rebellious child that springs to life from his hands (Gregory Mann) is hardly the quiet, obedient boy he sought. Although the broad strokes of the story might sound familiar, del Toro and his co-director Mark Gustafson take the time-honored tale to truly surprising places — even venturing into the underworld of Limbo, where the puppet protagonist encounters the Sphinx-like manifestation of Death (Tilda Swinton, naturally). Ewan McGregor’s haughty narrator Sebastian J. Cricket is a gem.
Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical
Roald Dahl’s tale of gifted Matilda Wormwood — a voracious reader cursed with horrible parents who is forced to attend a horrible school yet finds happiness with a sweet-natured teacher — has endured for decades as a classic of children’s literature, adapted for both screen and stage. That famously successful recent staging, which opened in 2010 on London’s West End and went on to Broadway and Tony and Olivier Awards, now gets the cinematic treatment. Director Matthew Warchus’s rousing musical starring Alisha Weir as Matilda, Lashana Lynch as the lovely Miss Honey, and an unrecognizable Emma Thompson as cruel headmistress Miss Trunchbull will receive a gala world premiere to open the B.F.I. London Film Festival October 5.
Is That Black Enough For You?
American film critic Elvis Mitchell makes his directorial debut with Is That Black Enough For You?!?, an encyclopedic dissection of the impact and importance of Black representation throughout the history of motion pictures. The expansive documentary boasts a lineage that spans from Oscar Micheaux, the first African American feature filmmaker and founder of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company in 1916, to Barry Jenkins, the writer and director of Moonlight, which took home the Oscar for Best Picture in 2017. Mitchell’s hand-selected list of participants reads like a who’s who list of Black Hollywood’s elite and avant-garde, including Charles Burnett, Whoopi Goldberg, Melvin Van Peebles, Zendaya, and Harry Belafonte. The documentary will make its world premiere at the New York Film Festival.
In Her Hands
From executive producers Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton comes the story of Zarifa Ghafari, who at 26 became one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors, the youngest person to ever hold such a position. Directors Tamana Ayazi (Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)) and Marcel Mettelsiefen (Watani: My Homeland) spent two years, beginning in January of 2020, chronicling Ghafari’s fight for survival amid constant death threats, her situation growing only more precarious over time, with Western forces in retreat and a resurgent Taliban taking back power. The powerful story of real-world crisis premieres September 9 at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman
Directed by the late Biyi Bandele, Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman will be making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Based on the stage play Death and the King’s Horseman by playwright Wole Soyinka, the film centers on the tragic 1940s-set tale of Elesin Oba, an Oyo Empire king’s chief horseman who must commit ritual suicide to follow his deceased king into the afterlife. Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman will be the first Yoruba language production to screen in the Special Presentation category.
All Quiet on the Western Front
German novelist Erich Maria Remarque shocked the world with his searing World War I novel about a group of young German soldiers serving in the brutal, bloody conflict who are forever changed by the horrors they witness. The bestseller was almost immediately adapted for the big screen, winning the Best Picture Oscar. Now, virtually a century later, German filmmaker Edward Berger adapts the novel anew, telling the story from the perspective of Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer), who, along with his close friends, leaves school to join the army, only to find himself trapped in a waking nightmare. Berger’s gripping screenplay and assured direction, combined with compelling performances from a cast that includes Albrecht Schuch (Berlin Alexanderplatz) as Stanislaus Katczinsky, Aaron Hilmer as Paul’s mentor, Moritz Klaus, Edin Hasanovic, Adrian Grünewald, Thibault de Montalembert, Devid Striesow, and The Alienist’s Daniel Brühl make for an unforgettable viewing experience — premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival September 12.