Operation Avalanche

In 1967, CIA agents were sent into NASA posing as a documentary film crew in order to root out a Russian mole. What happened next represents one of the biggest conspiracies in American history. Or does it? In the second feature from the brilliantly witty Canadian filmmaker Matt Johnson (The Dirties), the Cold War paranoia of the 1960s and the fanaticism of the space race is exploded in a tensely crafted piece of documentary fiction, all leading to the ultimate truth behind the 1968 Apollo mission. Or maybe not.Lionsgate

Screening supported by Lionsgate. Tickets available on the Picturehouses website here.

 

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Notes on Blindness

When writer and theologian John Hull went blind in 1983, he began keeping an audiocassette diary of his daily life. When it was published in 1990, Oliver Sacks described it as ‘the most extraordinary, precise, deep and beautiful account of blindness’. Using total access to the recordings, Notes on Blindness is an ever-evolving artistic project that has included a short film and an engrossing VR experience. Dubbing actors with the recorded voice of Hull, its exploration of how dreams, memories and imagination are impacted by a lack of sight, this is a formally extraordinary insight into a hidden interior world.

Followed by Q&A. Audio Description headsets available on request. 

Tickets available from the Picturehouses website here.

 

bestfilm

National Bird

The people damaged by helping to conduct America’s drone war speak out in National Bird, a disturbing new documentary executive produced by Wim Wenders and Errol Morris. Heather, Daniel and Lisa are former operatives in the U.S. Air Force’s predator programme. Having previously conducted America’s unmanned war before turning whistle-blower, all are suffering from various levels of trauma, government surveillance, and the outright threat of jail. Director Sonia Kennebeck’s film tracks their stories as they battle PTSD, legal trouble and, in one case, an eye opening trip to Afghanistan. What emerges is a disturbing portrait of a nation detached from what it means to protect its citizens, or other people’s. And in its drone footage sweeping over the landscapes of America, its warnings for the future are only too clear.

Followed by Q&A with the filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck.

Tickets available from the Picturehouse website here.

 

bestfilm

We Are The Flesh

Grisly, beautiful and frequently bonkers, We Are The Flesh is a fairytale of power, rebirth and fresh meat. Wandering through a ruined city, a young brother and sister discover a building inhabited by a mysterious hermit. Offering them sanctuary, it’s the beginning of a spiritual, visceral journey that offers the possibility of rebirth, in Emiliano Rocha Minter’s utterly distinctive, visually extraordinary kaleidoscope of a debut. Produced by Carlos Reygades and EEFF 2014 Director in Residence Sebastian Hofmann, this may be the work of Latin America’s next great director. Also supported by Mexican heavyweights Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuaron, you’ve never seen anything quite like this.  

Tickets available from the Picturehouses website here.

 

bestfilm

WinWin

AustrianThree investors, wolves in sheep’s clothes, can’t for the life of them find heart or soul. In their jets they circle the globe, preaching love and earning gold. Smoke and mirrors is their game, ministers, unions and kings enjoy their fame. Gambling with open cards at the table, where there’s no risk there’s only one aim: the truth is a lie, ’cause lying is real – when you get pranked, how does it feel?’ Austrian enfant terrible Daniel Hoesl (Soldier Jane, EEFF 2013) returns to EEFF to present his second film Win Win, a wry and hilarious satire of the corporate world, the global financial crisis, and a set of nefarious double-speaking pranksters looking to bring the whole edifice crashing down.

Followed by a Q&A. Tickets available from the Picturehouses website here.
Screening supported by Austrian Cultural Forum London.

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Lure, The

The year’s best (only?) horror mermaid musical, this utterly unique debut is an alluring fairy tale about two sisters who emerge from the sea, and head straight for a Warsaw nightclub. Embracing their new life as cabaret stars, their symbiosis is threatened when one of them falls for a dashing musician, and they may have to return to the sea, or suffer bloody consequences. A brilliantly entertaining, wacky maiden effort, with killer tunes. 
Polish Cultural Institute

Tickets available on the Picturehouses website here.

Screening supported by the Polish Cultural Institute

 

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Shepherds & Butchers (UEL Centrepiece Gala)

When a traumatised death row guard is arrested for a violent murder, no one in 1987 South Africa will take his case. That is until maverick lawyer John Weber (Steve Coogan) steps forward, in doing so challenging the very system that allows prisoners to be executed for their crimes, and directly leading to a change to the law in the dying days of Apartheid. Featuring phenomenal turns from Coogan and Andrea Riseborough, Oliver Schmitz’s film is inspired by true events, which questions how a society can ever expect people to act as both shepherds and butchers, and for there not to be awful consequences, while also pointing to a better, more hopeful future.

Followed by a Q&A with star Andrea Riseborough. Tickets available from the Picturehouse website here.

Making It

Anyone who asks themselves “Is this really it?” may well find some answers in Stephen Glover’s debut feature. Or maybe not. George is 33, an out of work actor, and his greatest achievement to date is appearing alongside a troll in a Wine Gums advert. Living back at home with his parents, life seems to mostly involve looking for work and being patronised by his family and friends. But when he runs into an old flame, he’s driven to seek out love and creative expression. Reminiscent of the comedic existential soul-searching of Lena Dunham’s Girls combined with a very British slice of absurdism, Making It is an utterly charming comedy about being yourself, and finding a pencil sharpener.

Followed by a Q&A. Tickets available on the Picturehouse website here.

 

Little Men

American master Ira Sachs (Keep the Lights On, Love is Strange) returns with one of the best films of the year. Jake and Tony are two 13 year olds who form a deep friendship in the aftermath of the death of Jake’s grandfather. But the family bereavement also brings the shop run by Tony’s mother into the hands of Jake’s parents (Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Ehle), whose plan to raise the rent leads to an increasingly bitter feud, and threatens the boys’ friendship. A perfectly drawn, achingly sympathetic character drama with subtle insights into the true nature of gentrification, those not driven to tears by Sachs’ latest opus may well be made of stone.

Tickets available from the Picturehouse website here

Jackrabbit

Both thrillingly ambitious and beautifully lo-fi, Carleton Ranney’s John Carpenter-inflected debut takes place in a future, apocalyptic America. Set decades after an event known as ‘the reset’, life in Sector 6 is dominated by surveillance, teen suicide, and 1980s technology. Brought together by a friend’s suicide and a mysterious hard drive, Max and Simon begin to explore what might lie outside the city limits, and especially a radio tower which might hold the key to bringing down their fascistic overlords. Cloaked in a minimal-synth score by MGMT’s Will Berman, Jackrabbit is a brilliantly atmospheric slice of analogue science fiction.

Tickets available from the Picturehouse website here.