Film Group is a series of films that encompasses the broad variety of movies that are generally not mainstream releases. Other terms used to describe this genre of film product are: independent, art, international.

O'Brien Theatres Renfrew offers Film Group. Different films between late September and April on alternate Wednesday nights. Memberships are sold at the beginning of the series; these memberships offer a discounted rate. In is not necessary to be a member to attend. Newsletters are published in September and December covering the early and later portions of the season. An extensive mailing list is maintained, and the information is delivered by post or e-mail.

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Arnprior Program


Renfrew Program
Julieta
Rating A18
Showtimes Wednesday, February 22 7:30 PM  
Running Time 99 mins
Actors Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Daniel Grao
Director Pedro Almodóvar
Country Spain

Spanish maestro Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her, All about My Mother, Volver) is renowned for his ability to move effortlessly from high drama to high farce, exploring the contradictions of human needs and desire through a range of styles and tones. As one of the cinema’s greatest makers of films about women, it is only fitting that for his latest and 20th feature he has chosen to adapt the work of Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro. Mining three stories from Munro’s exquisite collection Runaway and relocating them to Spain, Almodóvar creates a marvelously textured tale that examines the strained relationship between a mother and daughter.
When we first meet Julieta (Emma Suárez), she is a 55-year-old teacher about to move to
Lisbon with her husband, Lorenzo (Dario Grandinetti, Wild Tales, Talk to Her), until an unexpected encounter brings an end to those plans and, for reasons unbeknownst to Lorenzo, Julieta insists she must remain in
Madrid. Almodóvar then plunges us into the past, where Julieta (now played by Adriana Ugarte) is an effervescent and beautiful young woman who, on a train one late winter night, meets and is enchanted by a handsome young man, Xoan (Daniel Grao). In short order, Julieta becomes pregnant, moves to Xoan’s idyllic fishing village in Galicia, marries him and begins to raise their daughter, Anitá. In the full glow of her happiness, it seems that nothing could possibly go wrong.
And so the film moves forward and backward through time as it chronicles Julieta’s relationship and eventual rupture with her beloved daughter (played alternately by Priscilla Delgado and Blanca Pares), while in the present Lorenzo follows her around Madrid, intent on unraveling the mystery behind her sudden decision. Evoking such earlier Almodóvar films as High Heels and All about My Mother, Julieta reflects on the magic of chance encounters and the fragility of relationships in the face of long-buried secrets.
 
Moonlight
Rating A14
Showtimes Sunday, March 5 3:45 PM  Wednesday, March 8 7:30 PM  
Running Time 111 mins
Actors Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson
Director Barry Jenkins
Country USA

The second feature from acclaimed writer/director Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy) is an impeccably crafted study of African-American masculinity that follows its young protagonist from childhood to adulthood as he navigates the dangers of homophobia, drugs, and violence.
Though his story begins in late-1980s Miami, Jenkins shuns the familiar neon-lit hot spots in favour of a neglected neighbourhood caught in the throes of a crack epidemic. Here we meet young Chiron. Bullied at school and beaten down by a harsh home life, Chiron finds solace and comfort in the love and pride promoted by his surrogate parents. Despite his small stature and taciturn nature, Chiron is a survivor, and, as he grows, it becomes clear that his real battle isn’t even on the streets. It’s an internal one: reckoning with his complex love for his best friend.
Presented in three acts, Moonlight takes Chiron from childhood to his teens to adulthood, but defies coming-of-age conventions. Instead, Jenkins immerses us in an atmospheric subjectivity, an impressionistic vision of Chiron’s psyche in which sensuality, pain, and unhealed wounds take centre stage with staggering power. Anchored by an unforgettable performance by emerging talent Trevante Rhodes (as the older Chiron),
Moonlight explores the profoundly human need to feel connected, while remaining firmly grounded in a specific understanding of African-American experience.
 
I, Daniel Blake
Rating A14
Showtimes Sunday, March 19 3:45 PM  Wednesday, March 22 7:30 PM  
Running Time 100 mins
Actors Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Sharon Percy
Director Ken Loach
Country UNITED KINGDOM/FRANCE/BELGIUM

For nearly 50 prolific years, British master Ken Loach (Jimmy’s Hall, The Angels’ Share) has addressed socio-economic issues in Britain and beyond through the working-class heroes who populate his films. His relatable characters, with all their naturalism and sharp edges, leap off the screen as if real people in real, and usually dire, situations. Most recently, Loach won his second Cannes Palme d’Or with I, Daniel Blake, a timely drama about an ailing handyman’s battle to survive after being denied his government health benefits.
Loach’s latest feature is indeed one of his finest explorations of social realism. The eponymous
Daniel (Dave Johns, Inspector George Gently, Dogtown) is an affable 59-year-old carpenter in Newcastle, England, fighting to collect his Employment and Support Allowance after falling ill. (Government illogic stipulates that his benefits will be taken away unless he looks for work, yet doctor’s orders prevent him from working.) Waiting to sign on at the local Job Centre, Daniel befriends Katie (Hayley Squires, A Royal Night Out, Southcliffe), a young single mother who is also being shoved around by the vagaries of the system, having just been relocated with her two kids from a London homeless shelter to an affordable council flat up north. A mutually beneficial alliance, and makeshift extended family, is formed.
Loach and his frequent collaborator, screenwriter Paul Laverty (Jimmy’s Hall, The Angels’ Share), spin a tale that will leave no one unmoved. Working with some of most powerful set pieces he has ever filmed, the
director effortlessly builds empathy for two downtrodden people — honest would-be workers navigating a cruel tangle of red tape while trying to steal a happy moment or two.
 
LAO SHI (OLD STONE)
Rating A14
Showtimes Sunday, April 2 3:45 PM  Wednesday, April 5 3:45 PM  
Running Time 80 mins
Actors Gang Chen, Nai An, Hongwei Wang
Director Johnny Ma
Country Canada/China

Winner of the Toronto International Film Festival’s City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature, Johnny Ma’s (director of Film Circuit favourite shorts A Grand Canal and The Genius from Quintino) thrilling feature debut — about a taxi driver plunged into a bureaucratic nightmare when he takes an injured man to the hospital — takes us on an unnerving trip through China’s social strata and their corresponding levels of "justice.”
For Lao Shi (Chen Gang), a hard-working cabbie in a bustling metropolis, every day of work is a fight for his family’s basic economic survival. One day, swerving his car because his arm is grabbed by a reckless drunken passenger, he accidentally hits a motorcyclist. Passersby observe and take photos but don’t intervene, and when the ambulance takes too long to arrive, he decides to take the injured man to the hospital, where his honest act is promptly turned against him. Unfamiliar with the laws, Shi is acting on instinct. But after checking the man in, he finds that he’s become legally responsible for the hospital bills. He appeals to all available levels of government, but is consistently shut down and rendered all but voiceless. Faced with the possibility of losing everything, he descends into a kind of madness and begins to think that his only possible response to such a thankless social system might be retribution.
Ma’s film begins as a carefully observed social-realist drama — and gradually transforms into a furious noir that takes us out of the city and onto the dark roads at its outskirts. Chen’s extraordinary and sympathetic performance is essential to the film’s mission: juxtaposing Shi’s practically anachronistic honesty with society’s greedy individualism. Even as Old Stone goes into full cinematic overdrive, it does so with an engine that runs on humanism and empathy, carefully examining the cost of doing the right thing.
 
Maudie
Rating PG
Showtimes Sunday, April 16 3:45 PM  Wednesday, April 19 7:30 PM  
Running Time 115 mins
Actors Ethan Hawke, Sally Hawkins, Kari Matchett
Director Aisling Walsh
Country Canada/Ireland

Determined to prove her independence to herself and her overprotective family, the Nova Scotian Maud Dowley (Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go-Lucky) answers an ad for a live-in housekeeper for the reclusive Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke, Born to Be Blue, Boyhood), but her artistic skills quickly eclipse her domestic duties. Director Aisling Walsh brilliantly captures Maud’s growth into one of
Canada’s most celebrated folk artists.
Maud has spent her whole life constrained by the effects of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, causing her parents and brother to have little faith in her ability to live independently. After the loss of her parents leads her brother to sell her childhood home, Maud sets out to make her own way in the world and pursue her passion for art. Determined to get a job and provide for herself, she shows up at Everett’s door. Slowly, Maud’s warmth and positivity breaks through her new employer’s cold and reserved demeanour. She accompanies him on his fish deliveries and brightens up his home and his customer’s shipments with her colourful paintings. With the encouragement of Sandra (Kari Matchett), one of Everett’s customers, Maud begins selling her cards and paintings. Locals soon take note, and word of her talents spreads far beyond Nova Scotia, attracting visitors to Maud and Everett’s home and notice from the White House.
Touching, funny and wonderfully acted by its two remarkable leads, Maudie is an inspirational, based-on-fact tale of a young artist whose talent and determination allowed her to surmount the obstacles in her way, and an unlikely love story of two lonely souls who find their place in the world together.
 

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