Anna Swanson

Stage Fright: Dan Sallitt’s Fourteen

By Anna Swanson / February 27, 2020

By Anna Swanson Early in Dan Sallitt’s Fourteen, best friends Mara (Tallie Medel) and Jo (Norma Kuhling) briefly compare their contrasting opinions on fancy lingerie. Mara says that she doesn’t like to wear it because it makes her feel like she’s in a play; Jo’s quick response is to question what’s so wrong about being…

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, France) — Special Presentations

By Anna Swanson / September 11, 2019

By Anna Swanson Ironically, or perhaps fittingly, the first thing that stands out about Portrait of a Lady on Fire is its framing device. The film begins with artist and instructor Marianne (Noémie Merlant) posing for her students; when one inquires about a striking painting on the wall of her studio, the film transports to…

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Easy Land (Sanja Zivkovic, Canada) — Discovery

By Anna Swanson / September 11, 2019

By Anna Swanson For the mother-daughter pair of Sanja Zivkovic’s directorial debut Easy Land, the old sentiment that the grass is always greener on the other side resolutely rings true. Jasna (Mirjana Jokovic) is a Serbian immigrant committed to her dream of giving the teenage Nina (Nina Kiri) a better life in Canada. She’s an…

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The Audition (Ina Weisse, Germany/France) — Discovery

By Anna Swanson / September 9, 2019

By Anna Swanson You could throw a dart and hit an apt musical metaphor for Ina Weisse’s The Audition: it’s a symphonic study of human behaviour, a film with an unrelenting rhythm that crescendos with an act both shocking and, on reflection, inevitable. Nina Hoss is absolutely magnificent as Anna, a violin teacher who takes…

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Maria’s Paradise (Zaida Bergroth, Finland/Estonia) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Anna Swanson / September 6, 2019

By Anna Swanson Director Zaida Bergroth’s film about a clairvoyant cult leader is unable to see that its strongest aspects are woefully underserved. The eponymous Maria (Pihla Viitala) is the leader of a religious sect who presents herself as having been visited by an angel that bestowed her with second sight. One of her most…

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