12 Films We Can't Wait To See At The 36th Atlantic Film Festival

Hello again, fans of Carbon Arc Cinema. Carsten Knox here. 

In two weeks, on September 15, we'll all be meeting in the cinemas at Park Lane (and, happily, returning to The Oxford) for the biggest event in the Halifax film-lover's calendar, the Atlantic Film Festival.

The announcement of the full selection of films has given pause to the Carbon Arc programming committee, a mix of excitement—to have the chance to see so many films we've heard good things about from the summer's European festival circuit—and maybe a little professional envy—that we won't get to screen those movies ourselves. (While we admire their selections, we endeavour to not duplicate what the AFF shows, with the very rare exception.)

Through the running of the film festival, Carbon Arc programmer Zack Miller will be blogging here about what he's seeing at the fest, which signifies a change on this site. I've been the Carbon Arc Writer-in-Residence since the blog started, posting about film since last season. Now the blog will become more communal as I step down from the exclusive Writer-in-Residence position. It's been a blast, but moving into the new season I'm happy to share this space with other talented writers in the Carbon Arc crew. 

By the way, our new season starts up on September 30, the Friday after the conclusion of the film festival. We'll be showing the Greek comedy Chevalier. Tickets are on sale now; for more information on the first few announced films in our program, check out the events listings here.

So, back to the AFF: What's on our list to see at the film festival? Here are 12 films that we're thrilled about. 

Toni Erdmann


A comedy/drama by award-winning German filmmaker Maren Ade, the film came out of Cannes having not won any of the big prizes though some critics said it deserved to. It was the only picture from 2016 on the recent BBC Culture list of the Top Films of the 21st Century, and has now been chosen as the German representative for the Best Foreign Language Film at the next Academy Awards. 



A unique documentary about the first mass shooting in the United States. In 1966, a man with a rifle killed 16 people at the University of Texas from a campus clock tower. The documentary explores the event through the reminiscence of witnesses and survivors, all told in rotoscopic animation. 

American Honey 


British writer-director Andrea Arnold went to the 'States to tells her story of youth run wild, earning her a second Jury Prize at Cannes. The first was for her powerful drama Fish Tank, also a coming-of-age tale of restless teens and young adults. 

I Am The Blues


Montrealer Daniel Cross prospects for cultural gold the deep south in his documentary, tracking down the living purveyors of the blues—musicians who still play this original American art form despite many of them being in their 80s. 

The Salesman


One of the great storytellers in film, Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Past), returns with a domestic drama based in Tehran, a story inspired by Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. At Cannes it earned awards for Best Actor, for Shaab Hosseini, and Best Screenplay for Farhadi. 



Any new film from Pedro Almodovar is an event, and this one especially due to Canadian connection: It's based on "Chance," "Soon," and Silence," three connected short stories in Alice Munro's book, Runaway. A woman learns the whereabouts of her estranged daughter, and travels to Madrid with the hope to reconcile. 

L’avenir (Things To Come)


French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve's divorce drama sounds a little like a modern take on the Jill Clayburgh classic An Unmarried Woman: The incomparable Isabelle Huppert is an academic living a charmed life until her husband leaves her for a younger woman, throwing her world into turmoil. Hansen-Løve won the Silver Bear for Best Director at this year's Berlin International Film Festival. 

Kate Plays Christine


A considered look at obsession. Actor Kate Lyn Sheil examines the life of an American newscaster who took her own life on camera in 1974. As Sheil gets closer to her subject, the character begins to take hold of her in unnerving and unexpected ways.  

I, Daniel Blake


Veteran British director Ken Loach is a favourite of ours at Carbon Arc—we screened his last film, Jimmy's Hall, and at the time it was rumoured to be his last. Happily, that wasn't the case, and this story of a labourer who must, for the first time in his life, look for support from the state, looks like a perfect melding of filmmaker and material. It even comes anointed with the Palme D'Or from Cannes, the festival's highest honour. 



Cape Breton director Ashley McKenzie and producer Nelson MacDonald have been slowly and steadily building up their filmography with a set of sterling short films. Their first feature has arrived, a portrait of a couple tied together by both substance and the intangible. 

Paterson Gimme Danger


The godfather of American independent film, Jim Jarmusch, roared back to the top of his game a couple years back with the terrific vampire picture Only Lovers Left Alive. At this year's AFF he has two new films, a meditative drama about a bus driver (Adam Driver) who composes poetry in his spare time, and a documentary about Iggy Pop and the Stooges.