For 10 years now, the august London film festival – the vast compendium of world cinema that consumes the capital’s cinephiles every autumn – has had an overall best film prize. If this young award isn’t exactly on a par with the Palme d’Or or Golden Lion for international prestige, a glance at the names of past winners makes it hard to argue with its credentials. Andrey Zvyagintsev has won it twice, as has Jacques Audiard; Lynne Ramsay nabbed it for We Need to Talk About Kevin, Kelly Reichardt for Certain Women, while Pawel Pawlikowski was honoured for Ida over a year before the Oscars did the same.
So it was a surprise when last year’s award went to a film, and film-maker, well off the radar of even most arthouse-inclined filmgoers. Joy, by Austrian-Iranian director Sudabeh Mortezai, beat the Cannes-lauded likes of Happy As Lazzaro and Birds of Passage to the laurels, adding to a trophy shelf that also includes honours from Venice, Chicago and Les Arc. You might expect this kind of tailwind on the festival circuit to ensure cinema distribution for this small standout, but this is 2019: instead, it was scooped up by Netflix, where it’s been streaming since Friday.
Smart - Addition - Books - Need - Nudge
It’s another smart, unexpected addition to their books, in need of a nudge for adventurous Netflixers to find it amid slicker offerings in the platform’s endless content mill. Any one-line description might have many swiping to sunnier-sounding options: a Nigerian migrant prostitute in Vienna tries to free herself from the sex-trafficking ring to which she is enslaved by debt and superstition. But Mortezai’s film deserves a closer look. It’s sobering, yes, but no one-note slab of misery porn. As a window into a world most of us are lucky not to know, it’s clear-eyed and galvanising, shot through...
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