Facing the end of a battle with terminal illness, Ibrahim (Haluk Bilginer) asks his son Ömer (Ali Atay) to drive him to the village in rural Turkey where he was raised. Soon after they arrive, Ömer realizes that there’s more to this request than meets the eye: Ibrahim wants to be buried beneath a tree he planted as a boy. In the aftermath of a land dispute that cast Ibrahim’s family away from the community 45 years earlier, however, the plot of land has become a holy site called the “Noah Tree,” named for the Biblical figure whom they believe first planted it after the Flood. With all relevant public archives damaged, and villagers growing defensive over what seems a sacrilegious project, Ibrahim forges ahead in the name of justice; Ömer, on the other hand, grows conflicted, bearing the brunt of this battle even as he grapples with unaired grievances between himself and his dad.
A thoughtful and deeply felt debut from Cenk Ertürk, Noah Land probes ethical questions about the price of victory while weighing a human tendency to react in extremes. As Ömer and Ibrahim begin to open up to each other, it also becomes a story about good faith—both in terms of trusting another’s intentions and trusting one’s own.
A worried mother (Karen Kaia Livers) caring for her mange-ridden family dog; her unemployed, alcoholic son (Dominique McClellan) and the wife (Emyri Crutchfield) who supports him; and a preacher (Wendell Pierce) whose wife’s recent death has pushed him toward the bottle are a few of the characters who make up the beautifully rich world of Southeastern Louisiana in Phillip Youmans’ extraordinary debut feature, Burning Cane. The poetic lyricism of the film’s handheld camerawork calls to mind a Terrence Malick-like interest in the influence of place on the people who inhabit it, and how deeply the beauty of the natural world can contrast with the brutality of human acts. As one of the principal embodiments of this contradiction, Pierce gives a powerful performance as the preacher who is struggling to both help his flock as well as himself.
Youmans imbues his film about a group of flawed individuals with a soulful empathy that belies his age. (He was finishing the film around the same time as he was finishing high school.) Burning Cane, executive produced by Benh Zeitlin, signals him as a director to watch.
Set in 1994 in Seoul, House Of Hummingbird is a touching coming-of-age drama centered around the quiet, unexceptional eighth-grader Eunhee (Ji-hu Park). Struggling to make passing grades and subject to non-stop screaming at home, she spends her time finding meaning in the love and friendships of her peers, in shoplifting, and in karaoke bars. It’s in her cram school professor (Sae-byeok Kim), however, that Eunheen finds the answers that she seeks, as the two form an unlikely friendship.
Hunter (Haley Bennett) is a newly pregnant woman, living an idyllic, stay-at-home life with her picture-perfect husband (Austin Stowell). But when she finds herself compelled to eat a small marble, she is catapulted down the path of a new obsession for consuming dangerous objects that threatens her seemingly have-it-all life. Her husband and his mother (Elizabeth Marvel) notice the change, and begin to tighten their control over Hunter, forcing her to confront the dark secret behind her strange compulsion.
A unique and unpredictable piece from Tribeca alum Carlo Mirabella-Davis, Swallow is a compelling blend of domestic thriller, medical mystery, and satire. It plays as a warped fairy tale that uses its style and tension to pose real questions about women’s bodies, guilt, repression, and agency.