Whilst the world is on pause and your Filmhouse Sunderland visits aren’t possible, we’re keeping the independent cinema flag flying with our new weekly watch lists from Chris & Jonny, the people behind the project.
Each Friday, we’ll post a list of four films that are currently available across BBC iPlayer, All4, Netflix and Amazon Prime that we think you should seek out.
This week’s selection is…
City Of Tiny Lights (15) (2016) (BBC iPlayer)
Oscar nominee Riz Ahmed makes for a captivating presence in Pete Travis’ simmering London-set drama. Tommy (Ahmed) is a private eye who becomes entangled in the case of a missing sex worker. As the investigation begins to take shape, he soon finds himself confronted with radical Islamists, shady property deals and political intrigue. However, the investigation also dredges up a long-forgotten personal trauma from his own past….
Divines (15) (2016) (Netflix)
This terrific French urban thriller from director Houda Benyamina tells the story of Dounia (Oulaya Amamra), a teenager, who, along with her best friend Maimouna (Déborah Lukumuena) is desperate for something more than the life she has in the outskirts of Paris. From running small-time scams with Maimouna, Dounia soon rises up the ranks of the local crime scene and finds herself working as a runner for local gangster Rebecca. But when she meets male dancer Djigui, she realises that access to a different kind of life might be a possibility for her, and her two worlds begin to collide…
Ema (15) (2019) (All 4)
Pablo (Jackie) Larraín’s pulsing, raunchy drama tells a tale of an adoption gone wrong against a heady backdrop of the reggaeton music and dance scene in the streets of Valparaiso. Dancer Ema (Mariana Di Girólamo) and choreographer Gaston (Gael García Bernal) are an estranged couple who still work together at their local dance troupe. We find the couple in the aftermath of a loss, each hurting and blaming the other after they have abandoned their adoptive son Polo, returning him to the orphanage. Whilst they work on their next artistic performance piece, their personal issues and unspoken memories begin to rise to the surface…
New Town Utopia (15) (2018) (Amazon Prime)
Beautifully constructed by director Christopher Ian Smith, New Town Utopia is a documentary which takes the viewer on a journey through the brutalist streets of Basildon, Essex. Once prosperous, and now less so, Basildon was a town hailed as a modern marvel in the 1960s and is now regarded as a failed social experiment. Smith’s camera moves through the streets of the town, accompanied by inspiring narration from Jim Broadbent. Melding archive footage of the town at its peak, replete with happy residents and a thriving economy, the documentary shows the cause of the decline and sows the seeds of a potential reinvention of the town via the work and words of the artists, musicians and poets of today. Unmissable.
We’d love to hear what you think of the films we recommend – let us know!
See you next week,
Chris & Jonny