Fanny Lye Deliver'd

Source: London Film Festival

‘Fanny Lye Deliver’d’

Fionnuala Halligan, chief film critic and reviews editor

Fanny Lye Deliver’d (Dir. Thomas Clay)

After a long wait, this played in competition at the BFI London Film Festival. Clay’s interregnum drama with Maxine Peake and Charles Dance (in the middle of a remarkable late-career resurgence) is a daring dart between genre and period-perfect historical drama to the tune of authentic 17th-century instruments, all set in a muddy field in England. Contact: Coproduction Office

Tim Grierson, senior US critic

Ghost Tropic (Dir. Bas Devos)

While the premise is simple — a cleaning woman walks home alone late at night in Brussels — Belgian writer/director Devos weaves a beautifully immersive and enigmatic look at a city’s nocturnal rhythms and a seemingly nondescript character’s attempt to navigate its pre-dawn denizens. Saadia Bentaieb’s performance is a gem of minute gradations — every look, pause and reaction matters.  Contact: Rediance

Allan Hunter

Running To The Sky (Dir. Mirlan Abdykalykov)

Abdykalykov brings a Truffaut-like charm to the well-worn coming-of-age template. Temirlan Asankadyrov is a delight as a 12-year-old boy in a remote mountain village loyal to his alcoholic father and possessed of a skill that could be the family’s salvation. A little ray of sunshine in what often felt like a bleak year.  Contact: Pluto Film

Wendy Ide

Valley Of Souls (Dir. Nicolas Rincon Gille)

The devastating first fiction feature from documentary filmmaker Rincon Gille, Valley Of Souls is a journey into darkness set against a Colombia torn apart by trigger-happy paramilitary squads. Fisherman Jose returns home one night to discover his family has been targeted. He sets out to retrieve the bodies of his sons — a quest that reveals a strikingly beautiful land with ugliness at its heart.  Contact: Best Friend Forever

Lee Marshall

La Llorona (Dir. Jayro Bustamante)

Bustamante’s second film to emerge in 2019 — after Berlinale drama Tremors — touched down in Venice, but it was shunted into the non-official Venice Days sidebar when it should have been up there in competition. It is rare for a supernatural horror to carry an impassioned political j’accuse, but the Guatemalan writer/director manages the feat brilliantly in this ravishingly shot feature. Contact: Film Factory Entertainment

Lisa Nesselson

Dau (Dir. Ilya Khrzhanovsky)

Wildly ambitious, dripping with sex and justifiable fear, the astonishing commitment by hundreds of people over three years to live in a recreated Soviet-era compound and be filmed — in 35mm — living life in character ran 24/7 in two proximate Paris theatres for three weeks in early 2019. Please may this dazzling immersive cinematic experience culled from 700 hours of film to 330 minutes travel to London as planned.  Contact: Coproduction Office

Jonathan Romney

Divine Love (Dir. Gabriel Mascaro)

From the director of Neon Bull, a superbly imaginative dystopian evocation of a near-future Brazil and the rise of an evangelical cult devoted to preserving the bonds of marriage, whatever it takes. Eerie, satirically trenchant and shot in euphorically vivid colour by Diego Garcia, it is a perfect film to help illuminate its nation’s dark immediate future.  Contact: Memento Films International

Sarah Ward

Disco (Dir. Jorunn Myklebust Syversen)

From the feverish dance scenes filled with thrashing limbs and hair to the feeling of tension that permeates every frame, Syversen commandingly lures viewers into a claustrophobic world. The hollowness of religious extremism gets thrust into the spotlight and, as the teenager caught between her passion and her community, Josefine Frida Pettersen proves a compelling point of focus. Contact: New Europe Film Sales