Corpus Christi 2019
An ex-con masquerading as a priest works to heal the wounds of a grieving congregation with his unorthodox brand of faith and forgiveness in this darkly compelling Oscar-nominated Polish drama.
This film is screening in select cinemas and venues across the country. See here for details.
In Jan Komasa’s enthralling redemption tale, troublemaker Daniel (a magnetic Bartosz Bielenia), released from juvenile detention, desires to break free from a chequered past. After wandering into a village church, he’s mistaken for a new priest and seizes the divine opportunity to alter his life’s trajectory.
This close-knit village, fractured by recent tragedy, provides just the freshly turned soil Daniel needs to flourish. After shaky beginnings in the confessional booth, the young man discovers a natural empathy that elicits vulnerability and openness in his parishioners as he honestly seeks to aid a community in distress. Vicarious redemption and forgiveness seem within his grasp, but can Daniel’s transformation hold fast as harsh reality encroaches?
Riding high on the deservedly lauded lead performance of actor Bielenia, Corpus Christi weaves its existential concerns into a gripping drama, shot evocatively in muted colours and with a visual potency befitting Poland’s reputation for cinematography. Likewise, Bielenia’s Daniel exudes an unpredictable intensity throughout the entire film; an electric presence that energises even its darkest emotional turns. — Jacob Powell
“Reminiscent of the work of Flannery O’Connor, Corpus Christi raises enduring questions about holiness and hierarchy, dogma and true devotion, and God’s plan for even the most wayward pilgrims. Komasa films his subjects in subdued, milky light, which lends them a nimbus of ethereality, frequently punctuating the action with lyrical panoramic shots of Poland’s bucolic countryside… Corpus Christi is enjoyable if only for its intriguing plot. But it also serves as a kind of prayer. To which one can only say, Amen.” — Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
About the Filmmaker
Jan Komasa is an acclaimed young Polish film director and screenwriter. His short film Nice to See You won third prize in the Cinefondation section at Cannes in 2003. Selected filmography: The Hater (2020), Warsaw ’44 (2014), Warsaw Uprising (2014), Suicide Room (2011).
Just 6.5 2019
Metri Shesh-o Nim
A box office behemoth in its homeland and a daring breakthrough for its 30-year-old director Saeed Roustayi, this visceral policer tackles the maelstrom of Iran’s war on drugs through propulsive action and real political bite.
Opening at breakneck pace as a police officer chases a suspect on foot through the back alleys of Tehran, Just 6.5 crackles with relentless intensity. Iran’s exploding drug use – in this case, its epidemic of crack addiction – forms the backdrop to this riveting blend of police procedural and gripping bureaucratic thriller, following the efforts of a handful of cops to bust their way up the drug hierarchy.
As irascible a bunch as you’ll see on screen anywhere, the investigators are nominally led by Samad (A Separation’s Peyman Maadi), who has to overcome his own challenges amid the police bureaucracy even as he catches, cajoles and loudly threatens his quarry. Samad and his colleagues arrest and flip their way from user to dealer to courier in search of an elusive kingpin, with Just 6.5 – somewhat sarcastically named after Iran’s 6.5 million addicts – earning comparisons to classics like The French Connection and offering unique insights into the specifics of Iran’s police and justice system. Familiar genre beats are skillfully handled as cops and crims vie for supremacy in grotesquely overcrowded jail cells, and in cat-and-mouse encounters as thrilling as the busts setting them in motion. — Steve Newall
“In Tehran, getting caught with 30 grams of illegal drugs carries the same sentence as being busted with 50 kilos. Either way, perps face the death penalty – which means the dealers might as well get ambitious. And so they have, driving up the rates of Iranian drug abuse from roughly one million addicts to somewhere in the ballpark of 6.5 million. Still, if it weren’t for such draconian punishments – and the dedication of the Anti-Narcotics Police Task Force who enforce them – the number would be much higher, which explains the title of director Saeed Roustayi’s Just 6.5, a… ripped-from-reality thriller that delivers a searing look at a serious problem… Like Iranian master Asghar Farhadi… Roustayi blends the best of Eastern and Western cinematic traditions. The result… is a run-and-gun, Hollywood-caliber cop movie grounded by a clear-eyed assessment of how Tehran’s system works, and all the ways in which it doesn’t.” — Peter Debruge, Variety
About the Filmmaker
Saeed Roustayi is a graduate of filmmaking from Soureh Film College. His debut feature film, Life and A Day (2016), won nine main awards at Tehran’s Fajr Film Festival, as well as accolades from the Iranian Film Awards and Iranian Film Critics ceremonies. Selected filmography: Life and A Day (2016), The Light-Colored Manteaux (2012).