DIFF 2019: Day 7

Non-Fiction is a highbrow French comedy that explores book publishing in the digital age as well as sexual dynamics and is marked by a talented French cast and a intellectually witty script. It follows two couples living in Paris in which some of the partners are involved in extramarital affairs that complicate their married and professional lives, and they are linked through the world of writing and the book publishing industry. One of the main characters is a fairly controversial novelist who often incorporates elements of his personal life, especially his affairs, and he is struggling to get his latest work published by his publisher who is married to a character played by the legendary French actress Juliette Binoche. The movie feels very French with its emphasis on fast-paced and smart dialogue and not being afraid to explore human sexuality through a typically well-acted cast.

Screwdriver is a gripping and highly emotional drama that follows a Palestinian man recently released after fifteen years in Israeli prison as he tries to cope with post-traumatic stress developed as a direct result of his torture and imprisonment. With an almost entire Palestinian production crew and filmed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the movie is very much focused on the Palestinian perspective of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and it paints a very harsh picture of those living in the Palestinian territories and the refugee camp in Ramallah. The film presents a more personal story of the decades-long dispute and vividly portrays the physical and mental toll of a man obviously broken by being a political prisoner. It is a very intense cinematic experience that often wears down the audience as a result of its realistic and deeply intimate account of the Palestinian struggle brought to life by the extremely talented filmmaker and actors.

Brian Banks tells the incredible true story of a young African-American man wrongly convicted of raping a fellow student when he was in high school and his fight for exoneration so that he can pursue his dream of playing professional football. At the time of his imprisonment as a juvenile, he had a very promising football career and was personally recruited by USC to play as a linebacker, but all of that potential was ruined after he was coerced to take a plea bargain pleading no contest to sexual assault that led to five years in prison and several years of parole. Eventually, after discovering that his felony conviction makes it extremely difficult to get a job and possibly return to the football field, Brian wants a second chance at justice by deciding to take his case to the California Innocence Project led by a passionate lawyer played by Greg Kinnear. Although the production value itself could have been enhanced, the movie is remarkable for its inspiring story of redemption and justice as well as bringing to light just one example of the amazing work done by the real California Innocence Project.

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