If you've ever watched a step dance team perform, it's hard not to get drawn into the nature of the performance. Step dance is, at once, declarative, powerful, confident, bold, and brash. This documentary, which follows a group of seniors in a girls high-school step dance teams, explores the delicate and earnest adolescent identities that belie the self-assured performances. Against the backdrop of inner-city Baltimore, director Amanda Lipitz weaves a portrait of growing up and stepping up to life's challenges that is as much about dance as it is about perseverance, grit, and courage. It should come as no surprise that the film has been a darling on the film festival circuit, nabbing a Special Jury prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. — Bret
The incident that put Ferguson, Missouri on the map and inspired the statement "Hands up, don't shoot" is examined by a trio of first-time directors and released to coincide with the third anniversary of 18-year-old Mike Brown's murder. — Arno
A24, the company behind last year’s best picture winner Moonlight, has been on a roll this summer with some impressive indie hits like Free Fire, It Comes at Night and A Ghost Story. In their new project Good Time, directors Joshua and Ben Safdie (Heaven Knows What) and star Robert Pattinson go-for-broke with a story about Constantine "Connie" Nikas, a man desperate to free his brother from jail after a bank robbery gone wrong. Featuring an impressive, visceral visual style and a moody, award-winning score by Oneohtrix Point Never, the Palme d’Or nominated Good Time is being called a career high for Pattinson and an emotional thriller not to be missed. — Matt
The Los Angeles riots of 1992 remain a grave and regrettable milepost in the still unsettled discussion our continues to have about race relations. While searing images of street violence doubtless dominate our memories of this chapter in American urban history, this drama by director and writer Justin Chon helps to soften the binaries frequently served up by mainstream media about race relations in L.A. Here, Chon follows the story of two Korean American brothers and a young African American girl, who strike up a friendship that gets tested by intensifying racial discord in and around the city. If the trailer is any indication, Chon has been clearly inspired by Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, and the movie won an Audience Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. — Bret
Two features films in, writer/director Eliza Hittman is earning comparisons to Claire Denis and backing herself with admirable crew members such as cinematographer Hélène Louvart to tell her stories of youthful abandon. Underneath this seemingly standard coming-out narrative is Hittman's desire to frame pivotal moments in the lives of her young characters in a distinctive manner. Critics and festival audiences alike have tagged her as a director of note. — Arno
Hawkins' transformation into the shy, arthritic painter is drawing comparisons to Daniel Day Lewis and My Left Foot. With 8 film festival awards under its belt, the movie, and Hawkins performance, there's already speculation that there are more awards to come.
A quiet film about a quiet artist and her not-so-quiet husband, it's the attention to the details that draws viewers in. — Pam