This Month, The Subscription Service Also Celebrates Maggie Cheung’s Birthday with Stanly Kwan’s CENTER STAGE, the Certified Fresh Pitch Black Comedy, THE COLUMNIST, the 4K Digitally Restored RAINStarring Joan Crawford and More!

As the 2022 Venice Film Festival gets underway, running from August 31-September 10, Film Movement Plus brings cinema aficionados two acclaimed VFF films from 2019 making their North American premieres: NEVIA, a Naples-set coming-of-age drama, the feature film debut from Nunzia De Stefano and THE MAYOR OF RIONE SANITÀ (premiering 9/9), Mario Martone’s Golden Lion nominee for which he was awarded the Leoncino d’Oro Agiscuola Award for Best Director. 

Film Movement Plus will also spotlight more than two dozen of the best films to come out of the festival in years past including BAD ROADS, Ukraine’s official submission to the 2021 Academy Awards; Amjad Abu Alala’s YOU WILL DIE AT TWENTY, Sudan’s first Oscar submission for Best International Film; the 2020 Academy Award nominee, CORPUS CHRISTI; Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Golden Lion nominee, THE THIRD MURDER, Naji Abu Nowar’s powerful and assured directorial debut, THEEB, Oscar-nominated in 2016, Takeshi Kitano’s cinematic masterpiece, HANA-BI and PARADISE, a Holocaust drama from director Andrei Konchalovsky which captured him the Venice Silver Lion for Best Director in 2016.

In addition, this month, streaming premieres include Stanley Kwan’s landmark drama CENTER STAGE in honour of Maggie Cheung’s birthday, THE COLUMNIST, a pitch-black Dutch comedy – certified Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes and starring Katje Herbers (“Evil”, “Westworld”), the 4K restored 90th Anniversary edition of RAIN, starring Joan Crawford and Walter Huston and the streaming premiere of SUNSHINE THAT CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS, Wang Qiang’s stunningly shot feature film debut.

Friday, September 2

FM+ EXCLUSIVE: NEVIA

Director Nunzia De Stefano With her mother dead and her dad in prison, Nevia lives with her grandma in a container park in Ponticelli, on the eastern outskirts of Naples. She’ll be 18 in a few days, but she seems younger. She does whatever she can to scrape a few cents together. She collects rubbish door-to-door from elderly ladies’ houses and takes her little sister Enza to school (Rosy Franzese). Her grandmother Nanà (Pietra Montecorvino) rents out rooms to prostitutes and, in order to repay the debts accumulated by her imprisoned son, she also hides contraband (mostly mobile phones) for Peppe (Gianfranco Gallo), a small-scale neighbourhood “boss”. Meanwhile, Peppe’s son (Simone Borrelli), who’s thirty years old, has his eye on Nevia. And for the latter, his attentions are nothing short of a nightmare. Nevia is a stubborn teen, determined to get from life much more than fate has planned for her, but it’s hard to be a girl in a place where only men can make the rules and apparently there are no options but make ends meet with little illegal jobs. Until one day, a circus comes to town, changing everything and giving Nevia new hope. (2019 | 86 minutes | Italian with English subtitles) 

Friday, September 9

FM+ EXCLUSIVE: THE MAYOR OF RIONE SANITÀ

Director Mario Martone

When Mario Martone, a long-time Venice Film Festival crowd pleaser with films such as 2021’s The King of Laughter, Noi credevamo, Leopardi, and Capri-Revolution, brought THE MAYOR OF RIONE SANITÀ to the fest in 2019, the feature film adapted from his 2017 stage version competed for the prestigious Golden Lion.   Set in present-day Naples in a “rione” or traditional neighbourhood, the rione Sanità is one of the city’s poorest, besieged by crime. The “Mayor” as he is known, is Antonio Barracano, a power broker who adjudicates disputes in a godfather-like manner. Part gangster don, part mediator and judge, Barracano sees himself as the guardian of his flock, a ‘man of honour’ who distinguishes between ‘decent people and scoundrels’, though in Martone’s adaptation, the Don, originally an Old World gentleman of 75 has been turned into a tattooed toughie in his late 30s (played with tense ferocity by Francesco Di Leva). Using his charismatic influence and with the help of an ambiguous doctor, he administers justice according to his personal criteria, beyond the law and local politics. However, when the baker’s son approaches him with a wish to kill his father, Don Antonio recognizes the same feeling of revenge that obsessed him when he was younger, and he decides to intervene to reconcile father and son and try to save them both. (2019 | 118 minutes | Italian with English subtitles)

Friday, September 16

FM+ PREMIERE: CENTER STAGE

Director Stanley Kwan

To commemorate international superstar Maggie Cheung’s September 20 birthday, Film Movement Plus premieres CENTER STAGE, her acclaimed star turn as tragic silent screen siren Ruan Lingyu in director Stanley Kwan’s landmark and unconventional biopic, digitally restored in 4K from the original negative. Praised for her moving and emotive onscreen presence, Ruan’s private life, which was frequent fodder for the vicious Shanghai tabloids, began to mirror the melodramas which brought her fame, culminating in her suicide at age 24. Hong Kong New Wave master Kwan and Cheung paint a kaleidoscopic yet intimate portrait of the ill-fated actress, deftly blending lush period drama, archival footage, and metatextual documentary sequences of Cheung reflecting on Ruan’s lasting legacy. Patrick Z. McGavin of The Chicago Tribune calls Center Stage “Kwan’s most thrilling, concentrated and dazzling achievement,” Jordan Raup of The Film Stage writes that it’s “lush, definitive, and boldly conceived” and Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice says, “Cheung is a true heartbreaker: radiant, sweet, and compassionate.” (1991 | 154 minutes | Cantonese and Mandarin with English Subtitles)

Friday, September 23

FM+ PREMIERE: THE COLUMNIST

Director Ivo van Aart Femke Boot (Katja Herbers) is a columnist who is obsessed with reading the endless abusive messages and death threats posted about her on social media. This obsession consumes her life and prevents her from concentrating on the novel she has promised to her publisher. One day, all her pent-up anger and frustration explode in a moment of shocking and unexpected violence. When this brutal and bloody act inspires Femke to write again, she surrenders to her rage and begins to lead a double life as a daytime writer and nighttime murderer. Caitlin Kennedy of Film Inquiry said “In a word, The Columnist is striking. …There is intent and intellect behind [the film] that makes it an utterly irresistible watch,” Joe Lipsett of Bloody Disgusting wrote, “”[The Columnist] has a biting wit that feels very reflective of the current moment” and Megan Williams of Battle Royale with Cheese called The Columnist “one of the best horror films of the year”. (2019 | 86 minutes | Dutch with English subtitles)

Friday, September 30

FM+ PREMIERE: RAIN (90TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION)

Director Lewis Milestone Celebrating its 90 Anniversary in a stunning new 4K restoration, produced from the original, uncut 94-minute version, RAIN, starring Joan Crawford and Walter Huston, is one of the most important film in the history of the cinema, and one of the greatest films the 1930’s produced. W. Somerset Maugham’s powerful story of Sadie Thompson has perhaps the most celebrated version, vividly capturing the lives of several very different human beings, thrown together on Pago Pago during a fierce monsoon. Brilliant performances are given by Crawford, as the cynical prostitute, and Huston, as the minister who tries to reform her. A ‘tour de force’ of camera work, style and direction of a film that caused controversy when first released, RAIN is one of the true dramatic classics in cinema history. (1932 | 98 minutes)

FM+ EXCLUSIVE: SUNSHINE THAT CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS

Director Wang Qiang Tenzin Banjue, a young Tibetan monk living in the temple, takes a long way back home for the first time to visit his brother who is in a vegetative state from falling off the cliff. Despite finding himself enamoured by his brother’s fiancée, he refuses his mother’s offer to stay and marry her, who at the same time gets a marriage proposal from another man. Struggling between faith to his religion and truth to his heart of love, Tenzin, together with his brother and fiancée, takes on a soul searching journey of five thousand kilometres. Sarah Ward of Screen Daily writes “A film steeped in nature’s splendour, sensitive to life’s ebbs and flows, and striving to convey the everyday realities of rural Tibetan existence, Sunshine That Can Move Mountains proves a handsome debut for Chinese writer/director Wang Qiang. Here, stunning mountain vistas provide a picturesque constant in an engaging tale of faith and tradition, as a Buddhist monk is caught between his sacred calling and secular temptations.” (2017 |  109 minutes | Mandarin with English subtitles)