This month’s slate features exclusive streaming premieres from the Berlin, Rotterdam, and New York Film Festivals
MUBI, the global distributor and curated film streaming service, has revealed its lineup for February 2022 including premieres, double bills, and exclusive releases.
February offers an eclectic array of the best films from the international film festival rotation. Leading the bunch is Lê Bảo’s Taste (A MUBI Release), this winner of the Special Jury Award at last year’s Berlinale Encounters Competition is a revelatory gem, full of hypnotic imagery that recalls the work of slow cinema masters Apichatpong Weerasethakuland Tsai Ming-liang. Taste is part of Festival Focus: Berlin, which also includes the searing Iranian drama Ballad of a White Cow, plus two documentaries: feel-good immigrant schoolroom story Mr. Bachmann and His Class (Silver Bear Jury Prize at Berlinale ‘21) & Pietro Marcello’s For Lucio, exploring the life of Italian musician Lucio Dalla.
Highlights of the International Film Festival of Rotterdam are featured in the series Festival Focus: Rotterdam; this month, MUBI offers the exclusive streaming premieres of the Kosovo coming-of-age film Looking for Venera, and Madiano Marcheti’s haunting directorial debut, Madalena. And stateside from the 2020 New York Film Festival is the acclaimed slice-of-life South Korean drama The Woman Who Ran from master Hong Sang-soo.
Cinephiles and fans of New York’s art scene will love this series, beginning in February and continuing in March, of intimate avant-garde shorts from queer Black artist Edward Owens, made before he was 20: cinematic portrait Remembrance: A Portrait Study & the kinetic Tomorrow’s Promise. Continuing the theme is Street Vendors: A New York Double Bill, portraying the ever-evolving city, decades apart: Abel Ferrara’s cult revenge film Ms. 45 set in grimy ‘80s New York, and the 2014 druggy Heaven Knows What, directed by Josh and Benny Safdie (recently seen in Licorice Pizza).
For Valentine’s Day, audiences can enjoy a romantic double feature spanning decades of Hollywood love stories. Sarah Polley’s 2011 Take This Waltz is a sophisticated heartbreaker starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen, and Leo McCarey’s timeless romance Love Affair is one of many releases from 1939, a year many consider to be Hollywood’s finest.
Additional highlights from the February lineup are as follows:
EXCLUSIVELY ON MUBI
Exclusive streaming premieres from the most prestigious international film festivals and rediscovered classics selected by MUBI’s curators
[Festival Focus: Rotterdam] This beautifully shot and richly drawn feature debut from Norika Sefa follows the quiet teenager Venera, growing up in a small village in Kosovo. Formally innovative, with observational camerawork adding a documentary feel to this intimate film, Sefa displays a keen eye for how a modern girl grows up in traditional, strictly hierarchical surroundings, and the near universal adolescent yearning for freedom.
Looking for Venera – February 2
[Festival Focus: Rotterdam] Madiano Marcheti’s haunting directorial debut, Madalena, follows three characters in rural Brazil as their lives are rocked by the death of a local trans woman. Though they don’t know one another, Madalena’s spirit, hanging over the town, forms a bond between them in this fiercely political work that forms a provocative challenge to conventional narrative and a rebuke to formulaic depictions of trauma.
Madalena – February 3
[Brief Encounters] Winner of the Ammodo Tiger Short Award at the 2021 IFFR, Fox Maxy’s MAAT is an intoxicating and urgent collage film that deftly explores issues of contemporary Indigenous identity, culture and experience. Playful and rebellious, Maxy incorporates elements from film, phone videos, found footage, and computer game screen recordings while challenging us to think about the painful and multi-layered histories that exist within territories scarred by settler colonialism.
MAAT – February 9
[Festival Focus: Berlinale] A masterful tale of guilt, grief, and justice deferred, Behtash Sanaeeha and Maryam Moghaddam’s Ballad of a White Cow follows Mina (Moghaddon, pulling double duty as co-director and star), whose world is upended when she learns her husband was wrongfully executed for a crime he did not commit, and embarks on a bitter crusade against the cruel system that seeks to take from her what little she has left.
Ballad of a White Cow – February 10
[MUBI Spotlight] The 24th feature from prolific Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo, The Woman Who Ran (NYFF ’20) follows Gamhee (Hong regular Kim Min-hee) across three separate encounters with friends while her husband is on a business trip. With characteristic humor and grace, Hong takes a simple premise and spins a web of interconnecting philosophies and coincidences, creating a subtle, powerful look at dramas small and large faced by women everywhere.
The Woman Who Ran – February 11
[Festival Focus: Berlinale] Acclaimed Martin Eden director Pietro Marcello returns to the documentary form with For Lucio, a visual and sonorous journey into the life of Italian singer, Lucio Dalla. Mixing biography and history with reality and imagination, Marcello pays tribute to both a great singer and the Italy that vanished with him, as Dalla’s story sheds light on a country that rose from the ruins of the Second World War to sever its roots with peasant culture and move towards a future of factories, consumerism and mass car production
For Lucio – February 15
[A MUBI Release] A sensorial fever dream awash in spellbinding images, Lê Bảo’s feature debut, Taste, finds Bassley, a Nigerian soccer player nursing a broken leg, seeking refuge with four middle-aged women in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City. Raising issues of isolation and globalization, this poetically striking work, fresh from Berlinale ‘21, announces Bảo as a singular and uncompromising new voice in international cinema.
Taste – February 16
[Festival Focus: Berlinale] Winner of the Silver Bear Jury Prize at Berlinale ‘21, Maria Speth’s Mr. Bachmann and His Class recalls the epic work of Frederick Wiseman, in an inspirational documentary that covers six months in the classroom of Dieter Bachmann, who teaches a primary school class for immigrant children in the German city of Standallendorf. The result is a cinematic joy that reveals not only the importance of education but also what a quietly spectacular process it can be.
Mr. Bachmann and His Class – February 20
[Akosua Adoma Owusu: The Hair Trilogy] Remixing an archival instructional video for hair salons looking to offer their white clientele the “Afro,” Akosua Adoma Owusu’s White Afro offers a rare perspective on the iconic hairstyle. Narrated by the filmmaker’s own mother, the film becomes an unsettling vision of appropriation, racial misgivings, and the corporatization of Black liberation movements, while expanding on the abilities of non-Black beauticians and barbers to wield their shops as spaces for political change.
White Afro – February 24
From France with Love
MUBI has partnered with MyFrenchFilmFestival again to present these three films the festival’s fantastic 2022 selection: The Monopoly of Violence (David Dufresne), an evocative documentary on societal order and police brutality, Honey Cigar (Kamir Aïnouz), a fierce political drama about a French Algerian teenager in the early ’90s, and The Night Doctor (Elie Wajeman), an immersive journey into the dark world of drug trafficking.
Festival Focus: Rotterdam
Each year, the International Film Festival Rotterdam gives a spotlight to emerging talent from around the globe. This month, MUBI is proud to present the exclusive streaming premiere of two remarkable directorial debuts from the 2021 edition: Looking for Venera, Norika Sefa’s richly drawn coming-of-age story, and Madiano Marcheti’s hauntingly oblique yet vivid moral drama, Madalena.
Edward Owens: Promise & Remembrance
At eighteen years old, queer Black artist Edward Owens was studying painting, sculpture and 8mm film at the Art Institute of Chicago when avant-garde master Gregory Markopoulous encouraged him to move to New York to pursue film. Presented this month are two of his surviving works, completed before the age of 20 when Owens tragically ended his filmmaking career. In Remembrance: A Portrait Study, Owens delicately captures an evening of laughs between his mother, Mildred Owens, and her friend, Nettie Thomas, coupling their relaxed state with pop music, while Tomorrow’s Promise peers into the vacantness of love. Both are intimate and visionary, inspired by the 1960’s New American Cinema but reimagined in an entirely singular form.
Festival Focus: Berlinale
As the 72nd Berlinale returns to the in-person format this February, we take a look back at some standouts from last year’s virtual edition with a selection of films premiering exclusively on MUBI. From 2021 Silver Bear Jury Prize-winner Mr. Bachmann and His Class, Maria Spathe’s Wiseman-esque look at a local elementary school class and their inspirational teacher, to Pietro Marcello’s For Lucio, which finds one of Italy’s most exciting new voices following his masterful Martin Eden with a return to the documentary form as he pays tribute to legendary singer Lucio Dalla, and Maryam Moqadam and Behtash Sanaeeha’s fable of justice deferred, Ballad of a White Cow, these films remind us that the world of international cinema remains alive and well.
In the Mood for Love (Valentine’s Day)
A tender double feature that we all need right now, timed to Valentine’s Day: the contemporary gem Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley) with Leo McCarey’s wildly influential classic Love Affair. This pairing of films will make you believe in love and in the power of cinema again.
Street Vendors: A New York Double Bill
Separated by decades but linked by their dedication to capturing the gritty streets of New York’s past, this month we present grime soaked double feature with Abel Ferrera’s nunsploitation cult-classic Ms. 45, and Josh and Benny Safdie’s drugged out scuzzfest Heaven Knows What.