Enjoy these reviews of new releases from the international film market. Through our partnership with The Film Verdict, our reviews showcase the latest talent and innovation wherever it appears, from the glitziest premieres at major international festivals to gems uncovered at regional film markets. The Film Verdict's team of expert reviewers gives each new film the respect and visibility it deserves.

Cannes Film Festival

17-28 MAY 2022

As we toast the return of audiences to theaters and film festivals, let’s also raise a glass to the explosive return of the humble film review! As Cannes approached one year ago, there was a noticeable drought of film reviews focused on international and independent films. Ironically, this coincided with audiences everywhere watching more cross-border films on streaming platforms. As Cannes 2021 came to a close, many showed concern over a lack of professional reviews for their films.

This was the context in which The Film Verdict (TFV) was conceived. Deborah Young leads TFV’s review team together with her team of senior critics Jay Weissberg, Boyd van Hoeij and Stephen Dalton. The team is supported by a top cast of contributing critics Jordan Mintzer, Clarence Tsui, Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, Patricia Boero and Ben Nicholson. Since it launched, TFV has attended over 22 film festivals, reviewed over 350 films,

launched the “Critics’ Choice” weekly newsletter and produced a daily newsletter at the Berlin Film Festival covering exciting stream of premieres. We are delighted to follow that up with our Cannes Review Daily, publishing daily reviews of competition films vying for festival awards, and a selection of premieres from all the side sections and the film market. The Film Verdict has arrived, to highlight and celebrate international and independent films, filmmakers and festivals.

Berlin Film Festival

10-20 Feb 2022

What if they gave a film festival and nobody came? Even as recently as a few weeks ago, that nightmarish scenario looked perilously possible for the 72nd Berlinale as COVID cases surged in Germany, and festival bosses appeared to change their panic-stricken pandemic rules by the day. Ultimately, the Berlin bash went ahead in physical form with all screenings compressed into six days and limited capacity in theaters. After much anguish and confusion, festival bosses Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian elected to make a bold but controversial statement about the importance of in-person gatherings following last year’s fully virtual festival. Reactions among filmmakers, critics and media commentators to this decision have been decidedly mixed, with German newspaper editorials condemning the event’s COVID super-spreader potential. The choice to return to purely physical screenings instead of the hybrid format adopted by most major festivals in recent years felt a little tone-deaf, especially to film industry workers burdened by underlying health issues or COVID-imposed travel restrictions. Others have highlighted some programming flaws, notably the narrow, NGO-style selection of titles in Berlin’s Generation Africa section, which The Film Verdict covered extensively. But for those of us who braved an unusually empty Potsdamer Platz last week, the quality of the Berlinale program was mostly a pleasant surprise.

The festival’s mandatory system of free daily COVID-testing system was also impressively smooth, if a little punishing on the nostrils, while the new online ticket-booking system for press screenings was actually a great improvement on the uncertain scramble of pre-pandemic times. If Rissenbeek and Chatrain learn any future lessons from this human lab-rat experiment, advance ticketing would be a good start. COVID was certainly a motif in some of the bigger Berlinale premieres, either as text or subtext. Festival opener Peter Von Kant, a mischievous gender-reversal remix of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s classic camp melodrama The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972) from French maestro François Ozon, was widely interpreted as a response to the pandemic climate with its single-room chamber-drama setting. Many critics found this arch cineaste homage an enjoyably pointless folly, but Ozon’s sweeter take on Fassbinder’s sour original felt like a quietly powerful statement about the advances in LGBT rights and positive depictions of queer love that have emerged during the half-century gap between the two films. Building on recent trends across the major festivals, several generations of women film-makers dominated the Berlinale awards. A lyrical celebration of home, family and hard-scrabble pastoral life, the big Golden Bear prize-winner Alcarràs felt like a film designed for pandemic lockdown reflection.