Festival big hitters return to our screens

Friday means a new week of releases at the cinema, and we have some fantastic titles and events coming to Showroom Cinema over the next seven days. I am a huge fan of both director Josephine Decker and the writer Shirley Jackson, so the upcoming biopic Shirley ticks a million boxes for me. When we first meet Shirley (Elisabeth Moss), soon to become America’s queen of horror fiction, she seems to be no such thing; just a sad, drunken shut-in, married to a cheating English professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) and blocked as a writer. But with the arrival of Rose (Odessa Young) and her teaching-assistant husband Fred (Logan Lerman), Shirley reveals herself as a far crueller and more sophisticated creature, seducing the innocent girl into becoming her companion and accomplice in the new mystery novel she is writing.

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf is clearly a touchstone, but Josephine Decker’s psychodrama goes further, blurring the boundaries of biopic and fiction in exploring the cruel forces that can feed creativity.

Also coming to cinemas this week is the enigmatic and deeply personal Mogul Mowgli. On the brink of his first world tour, young British rapper Zed (Riz Ahmed) decides to fly home to reconnect with the family he has not seen in two years. While visiting, he is struck suddenly by debilitating illness.

Torn between an international music career and the traditions of his conservative Pakistani parents, Zed struggles to assert his place in the world as he forced to re-evaluate his ambitions and future. As his condition worsens and his big breakthrough moment is in danger of vanishing into thin air, Zed descends into a physical and emotional crisis, amplified by vivid hallucinations.

This is a bold and textured fictional debut from writer-director Bassam Tariq. A thoughtful, energetic drama that explores the knotty complexities of selfhood and bi-cultural identity, with an extraordinarily personal performance from Riz Ahmed, who also co-wrote the film.

Following on with music in film, Friday 30 October sees the third Doc/Fest weekender take to our screens. The programme, Rhyme & Rhythm, is an exciting exploration of cinema and where it meets other art forms, from music, to theatre, street art and beyond. The entire line-up is a real treat, but highlights include opening night film Faith and Branko, where love crosses borders and cultural barriers when British accordion player Faith and Serbian violinist Branko form a gypsy music duo and Sisters with Transistors: the remarkable untold story of the female pioneers in electronic music, as told by the women themselves and through their music. Both films feature live performances, streamed into the cinema.

Find out more about Sheffield Doc/Fest's full weekender programme.

This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on 29 October 2020.


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