From Angel Face to Rafiki, Ella Kemp rounds up four female led movies to watch out for this year…
As awards season draws to a close, it’s tempting to give up on the release season of movies to come – only two months into the calendar year. The Oscars highlight a select batch of films from the previous year’s slate in an overwhelming, glittering climax. Some will cry injustice, others will just be happy to witness the glamour. But after it’s faded away, there is still an invigorating number of movies to inspire hope and entertainment, coming from voices you hear less, telling stories rarely given more than an afterthought. Cast your minds back to the Croisette – here are the gems from the 2018 Cannes Film Festival that are still yet to be released, guaranteed to brighten up your 2019.
Angel Face (directed by Vanessa Filho, available to rent on YouTube now)
Marion Cotillard plays a toxic fairy (god)mother in Angel Face, a difficult but impressive debut by French filmmaker Vanessa Filho. The compassionate French actress amps up the melodrama here, as a fashionable but failing mother to her eight-year-old daughter, Elli. played by newcomer Ayline Akysoy-Etaix steals the show, as an unpredictable child having to grow up extremely fast. The film lets the uneven and imperfect women find each other’s arms and keep their heads only just above water – with ripped Little Mermaid costumes, scratchy sequins and all.
Capernaum (directed by Nadine Labaki, in UK cinemas on 22 February)
With her ambitious and devastating drama Capernaum, lebanese director Nabine Labaki is the only woman nominated for a directing Oscar this year. The Foreign Language Film nominee starts in a near-dystopian (but scarily probable) reality, where 12-year-old Zain opens the film in court, suing his parents for giving him life. What ensues is a gruelling and affecting portrait of a childhood lived in danger, shedding light on a world of conflict, too often overshadowed by the bright lights of Hollywood.
Happy As Lazzaro (directed by Alice Rohrwacher, in UK cinemas on 15 March)
Somewhere between a holiday escape and a period-piece fairytale, Happy As Lazzaro deals in magic realism with a breath of fresh air. Set on a sunbaked Italian estate, the film begins with a look at a tobacco farm, the people who work there and the heads of estate and marquis who run it. There are twists and jumps, and it’s difficult to pin down the film as telling one story about a people or just offering a fascinating and slippery look at another. Adriano Tardiolo stars as the angelic, implacable Lazzaro, and the film conveys the delicious poetry of yesteryear. It’s certain to be unlike anything else you’ll be seeing in a multiplex anytime soon.
Rafiki (directed by Wanuri Kahiu, in US cinemas on 19 April)
Banned at home and beloved in Cannes, Kenyan LGBT love story Rafiki made headlines in May 2018 as the festival release was threatened by national guidelines indicating the film’s ‘clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law and dominant values of the Kenyans’. As far as cinematic lesbianism goes, Rafiki offers a relatively safe, sweet look into the lives of two teenage girls, Kena and Blacksta, as they come to terms with their feelings within a society that doesn’t accept it – and as the daughters of two rival politicians. The forbidden love story isn’t new, but a trip to see Rafiki brings light to areas left in the dark, with neon lights and electric romantic chemistry – and proves to the classification board that there could be far worse things to promote in the world.
Words: Ella Kemp