5 New Films With Festival Buzz
Every fall, filmmakers from all over the globe vie for coveted screening spots at some of the film industry’s hottest festivals. With good reason, too — many successful indie movies, including recent Oscar winners Dallas Buyers Club and Silver Linings Playbook, have first picked up steam after being well received at Venice, Telluride, and the Toronto International Film Festival.
This year, there are dozens of films that are getting good press — and distribution boosts — from their festival showings. Here are five independent films that are on Hollywood’s radar.
99 Homes (TBA)
Independent films have a knack for telling stories that resonate deeply with modern struggles. 99 Homes, about a struggling contractor who fights to get his home back after foreclosure, follows that legacy with gusto. The film, directed by Ramin Bahrani, “ignited” the Telluride Film Festival earlier this month and piqued the interest of several distributors. The ensemble cast, led by The Amazing Spider-Man’s Andrew Garfield and Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Shannon, have been commended for “career-best performances” in bringing their troubled characters to life.
Birdman (Fox Searchlight)
IndieWire calls this film about a struggling actor who once played an iconic superhero “the first modern showbiz satire.” Birdman features an all-star cast that includes Michael Keaton, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone. It’s received rave reviews after premiering at the Venice International Film Festival and a later screening at Telluride. Director and co-writer Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu has been praised for solid performances and for telling a compelling, bitingly funny story.
Escobar: Paradise Lost (Pathe Films)
As the title implies, this crime thriller takes a look inside notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar’s criminal operation. The film, from first-time director Andrea Di Stefano, tells the story of a young surfer (The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson) who bites off more than he can chew after falling in love with Escobar’s (Benicio Del Toro) niece. Escobar: Paradise Lost had a sneak peek at Telluride and officially premieres later this month at TIFF. Early reviews have praised the film’s gripping, tense third act, as well as powerful performances from Del Toro and Hutcherson.
Rosewater (Open Road)
Daily Show host Jon Stewart’s directorial debut is film based on a true story — not surprising for a man who’s made a name for himself by reporting new stories with a comically critical slant. But what has been surprising for many early viewers of Rosewater, which screened last weekend at Telluride, is how good the film is coming from a first-time director and household name. Rosewater stars indie darling Gael Garcia Bernal as Maziar Bahari, journalist who was imprisoned and brutally interrogated for months in Iran in the midst of the country’s presidential election. It’s been called “tremendous” and “immensely satisfying.” Curious film fans will get another chance to see Rosewater at TIFF later this month.
Wild (Fox Searchlight)
Based on the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, this adventure film was highly anticipated before it even had its first screening at Telluride. Wild was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strand, a troubled young woman who takes off into the wilderness to find herself. Early reviews call the film “vivid” and “powerful,” and praise Witherspoon’s performance, calling it worthy of Oscar buzz. Wild will screen at TIFF and the San Diego Film Festival before hitting theaters nationwide in December.