Regardless of where these films have played throughout the world, the Spotlight program is a tribute to the cinema we love.
Cemetery of Splendor / Thailand
(Director and screenwriter: Apichatpong Weerasethakull) — A lonesome middle-aged housewife tends to a soldier with sleeping sickness and falls into a hallucination that triggers strange dreams, phantoms, and romance. Cast: Jenjira Pongpas, Banlop Lomnoi, Jarinpattra Rueangram.
Embrace of the Serpent / Colombia
(Director: Ciro Guerra, Screenwriters: Ciro Guerra, Jacques Toulemonde Vidal) — This blistering, poetic story is inspired by the original journals of scientists Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes, who meet lone survivor Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman. Over 40 years, they develop a friendship while traveling through the Colombian Amazon in search of the sacred, psychedelic yakruna plant. Cast: Jan Bijvoet, Brionne Davis, Antonio Bolivar, Nilbio Torres, Miguel Dionisio Ramos.
Green Room / U.S.A.
(Director and screenwriter: Jeremy Saulnier) — This wickedly fun horror-thriller tells a story about the owner of a neo-Nazi club who squares off against an unsuspecting but resilient young punk band after they witness a horrific act of violence. Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart.
Land of Mine / Denmark
(Director and screenwriter: Martin Zandvliet) — At the end of World War II, a group of young German POWs captured by the Danish army are forced to defuse and clear landmines from the Danish coastline with no training. Inspired by real events, the film exposes the untold story of one tragic moment in Denmark’s history. Cast: Roland Møller, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman, Emil Belton, Oskar Belton. U.S. Premiere
The Lobster / Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, France
(Director: Yorgos Lanthimos, Screenwriters: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou) — In a dystopian near future, single people are obliged to find a mate in 45 days or else be transformed into an animal of their choice and be released into the woods. Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman.
Maggie’s Plan / U.S.A.
(Director: Rebecca Miller, Screenwriters: Rebecca Miller, based on a story by Karen Rinaldi) — A young woman’s determination to have a child catapults her into a nervy love triangle with a heart-throb academic and his eccentric critical-theorist wife. Cast: Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Travis Fimmel.
Miles Ahead / U.S.A.
(Director: Don Cheadle, Screenwriters: Don Cheadle, Steven Baigelman — Inspired by events in Miles Davis’s life, this is a wildly entertaining, impressionistic, no-holds-barred portrait of one of twentieth-century music’s creative geniuses. Cast: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lakeith Lee Stanfield, Michael Stuhlbarg.
Rams / Iceland, Denmark
(Director and screenwriter: Grímur Hákonarson) — In a remote Icelandic farming valley, two brothers who haven’t spoken in 40 years have to come together to save what’s dearest to them—their sheep. Cast: Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Theodór Júlíusson.
Viva / Ireland
(Director: Paddy Breathnach, Screenwriter: Mark O’Halloran) — In contemporary Cuba, a father and son struggle to escape from each other’s expectations, duty, and the burden of past sins. Cast: Héctor Medina, Jorge Perugorría, Luis Alberto García.
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Julian Doan’s short film “Raspberry” will begin its on-demand, virtual Sundance Filim Festival run on Jan. 28.