2022 Fall Fest Fever

We comb through the prestige names and indie sleepers coming to the Venice, Toronto, London, New York Film Festivals and Austin’s Fantastic Fest to present our most-anticipated of the upcoming festival season.

Fall is fast creeping in and Hollywood’s biggest hitters are ready to stroll on red carpets and mingle at in-person parties to start making their pitches for awards season. Letterboxd will be at the key stops around the globe, with our crew of ace correspondents on the ground at the Venice Film Festival, TIFF, Austin’s Fantastic Fest, NYFF and London Film Festival—plus the wider Letterboxd community’s reactions to the new fest fare.

Certainly there will be lines out the door for hotly tipped films such as Decision to Leave, Broker, Triangle of Sadness and Aftersun as they continue their festival runs. But for this preview, we’re focusing on the eagerly awaited premieres nobody’s yet seen, and that we humbly predict may soon be dominating your activity feeds. Naturally, we couldn’t cover everything we’re booking tickets for so we asked our festival crew to submit their three most-anticipated and curated our shortlist from those selections.

Just because some films aren’t covered below doesn’t mean we’re not intrigued by Noah Baumbach’s return with White Noise and its trailer that has heads spinning. We are one hundred percent excited to see Daniel Radcliffe donning those iconic curls as Weird Al. Sam Mendes, Joanna Hogg and Gina Prince-Bythewood all have films premiering, and Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig are bringing us back into Benoit Blanc’s world with Glass Onion and its jaw-dropping cast.

We’ll be watching them all and listening for the buzz in your reviews, but for now, here is our choice of the big names, small beauties and potential surprise hits we’re eager to see the most. Words by Brian Formo, Ella Kemp, Katie Rife, Isaac Feldberg, Gemma Gracewood, Leo Koziol, Kambole Campbell, Mitchell Beaupre, Annie Lyons and Rafa Sales Ross


Written and directed by Andrew Dominik. Premiering at Venice before streaming on Netflix from September 28.

After two film festival seasons of hot bluster and horrified gossip-tipping debuts that wouldn’t come, Andrew Dominik’s Blonde will finally premiere at Venice. If you’ve followed the whisperings, I’m not sure how the imagined tale of Marilyn Monroe couldn’t spark intrigue. Ana de Armas, who plays Norma Jean Baker (Monroe’s birth name), described Blonde as “not linear or conventional... The film moves along with her feelings and her experiences. There are moments when we are inside of her body and mind, and this will give the audience an opportunity to experience what it was like to be Norma and Marilyn at the same time.”

Buzz for Blonde kicked off in 2020 when the author of the book the film is based on, Joyce Carol Oates, tweeted “I have seen the rough cut of Andrew Dominik’s adaptation and it is startling, brilliant, very disturbing and perhaps most surprisingly an utterly ‘feminist’ interpretation. Not sure that any male director has ever achieved anything [like] this.” (Maybe don’t read some of her other tweets.) Back when Cannes announced its 2021 slate, the esteemed festival’s director of programming, Thierry Frémaux, mentioned that he’d seen it and that it was “lovely.”

After rumors surfaced that Blonde would receive an NC-17 rating, which was eventually confirmed, updates on the film started to read like tabloid fodder. Now, a full year later, Dominik and Netflix are riding a wave of their final movie vs. the clutched pearls. “It’s a demanding movie,” Domink told Screen Daily. “If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the f—king audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office.” In the same interview, the not-so-shy director of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford called the movie “a masterpiece” and “the best movie in the world right now.”

There are multiple lightning rods of controversy already, and the film will finally get to speak for itself when it debuts on September 8 in Venice and hits your Netflix account just three weeks later. BF

Women Talking

Written and directed by Sarah Polley. Premiering at NYFF.

Nobody is better at talking with, at, or about women than Sarah Polley. The Canadian filmmaker masters arresting drama as much as heartfelt intimacy, and looks to be stripping this to the bone with her most focused yet sprawling feature so far, Women Talking. Her first narrative film in over a decade (since 2011’s lovely and subtly complex Take This Waltz), the return sees Polley adapting Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel of the same name. It will undoubtedly be harrowing material, as a sensational ensemble cast—including Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley—play a group of eight Mennonite women who gather for a secret meeting. They discuss how they, and hundreds of other women, have been drugged and raped by the men of their colony, repeatedly. 

On Letterboxd, people have called the book “brilliant” and suggest the film could be “a masterpiece.” In the wrong hands, this could become a disaster, but Polley has always mastered the discussion of women’s pain, and the strength and defiance in that. Earlier this year, an extract from her memoir Run Towards the Danger was published in The Guardian, detailing the difficult experiences she encountered with Terry Gilliam on the set of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen as a child actor. It is breathtaking. Brave in ways nobody should have to be, ever. If anybody can bring the story of these eight women to light, and to justice, it’s Sarah Polley. EK


Directed by Stephen Williams, written by Stefani Robinson. Premiering at TIFF.

The life of Joseph Bologne, a.k.a. the Chevalier Saint-Georges, is one of the great untold stories in classical music. The son of a wealthy white planter and an enslaved African woman, he was a virtuoso violinist, a gifted composer, and an expert swordsman—according to one apocryphal account, he once defeated five anti-abolitionists in combat and performed a concert, all in the same night. The rise of this 18th-century prodigy on the Paris music scene is getting the biopic treatment in Chevalier, set to make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. 

Director Stephen Williams returns to feature filmmaking after 27 years in television, where he was a primary director on Lost and a featured helmer for prestige series like Westworld and Watchmen. Screenwriter Stefani Robinson makes her feature debut after a similarly successful run as a writer and producer on Atlanta and What We Do in the Shadows, suggesting an offbeat comedic take on the material. These TV veterans are joined by a cast that includes rising star Kelvin Harrison Jr. as the eponymous composer, getting a plum awards-teasing role after dominant performances in films like It Comes at Night and Luce and as lovelorn Christian in Cyrano and B.B. King in Elvis. Alongside him are Samara Weaving, Minnie Driver, and Lucy Boynton as Madame Deficit herself, Marie Antionette. KR

Master Gardener

Written and directed by Paul Schrader. Premiering at Venice and playing at NYFF

In his younger years as a film critic, Paul Schrader authored perhaps the definitive study of Yasujirō Ozu, Robert Bresson, and Carl Theodor Dreyer, titled Transcendental Style in Film, in which he connected the aesthetic techniques of all three through their cinema’s shared capacity for spiritual expression. A seminal text for film scholars, this volume anticipated Schrader’s singular style as both a screenwriter (Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation of Christ, Raging Bull) and a director (American Gigolo, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, Light Sleeper). Informed by Schrader’s strict Calvinist upbringing, the existentialist heroes of his cinema grapple with questions of guilt and redemption, ones still scorchingly relevant today. 

Recently cementing Schrader’s cross-generational appeal (and earning him his first ever Oscar nomination), 2018’s First Reformed found Ethan Hawke’s pastor struggling to keep faith in a polluted world. Last year’s The Card Counter, meanwhile, cast Oscar Isaac as a military veteran who feared his soul was beyond saving. Both films furthered Schrader’s use of Bressonian style, including sparse camera movements and voiceover to convey the torment of internally imprisoned characters, but to such an extent—and such shattering dramatic effect—that it was impossible to extricate Schrader’s own righteous, rigorous artistry from that of his predecessors. 

Could Master Gardener make for a trilogy of Bresonnian character portraits? All signs point to yes, especially with cinematographer Alexander Dynan and editor Benjamin Rodriguez Jr. carrying over from Schrader’s last three films. Joel Edgerton stars as the gardener of an American estate overseen by a rich widow (Sigourney Weaver); his violent, long-buried past is unearthed after he mentors the widow’s troubled great niece (Quintessa Swindell). One can assume Schrader’s career interest in sinners struggling toward salvation remains intact; he returns to such “man-in-a-room” stories with enough frequency, and success, that Jack Chungus is already declaring of Master Gardener: “I’ve seen this film 7 different times already. This will be the greatest film I’ll ever see.” IF


Written and directed by Darlene Naponse. Premiering at TIFF. 

Indigenous filmmaking often exists in the documentary and biopic realms, getting Native voices on the record about the people and events that inform the wider world’s perception of First Nations folk. That’s deeply, deeply necessary, but so are contemporary, playful and trope-twisting takes on Indigeneity. Lately these tend to come in the form of horror and sci-fi—genres that allow for the cinematic embodiment of sacred tribal legends beyond rigid narrative beats. (And yes, you should see Nyla Innuksuk’s Slash/Back when it lands in US theaters and on demand October 21.)

In Stellar, Anishinaabe director Darlene Naponse (who previously directed Tantoo Cardinal in the musical drama Falls Around Her) takes such a story and weaves it into an experimental parlor play, which she sets largely in a Northern Ontario bar as the impacts of a fallen meteorite rage outside. Blackfoot and Sámi star Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, Night Raiders) is She, Mikisew Cree First Nation up-and-comer Braedon Clarke (Outlander, Run Woman Run) is He. They sit and talk, dance and drink, are visited by various sanctuary-seekers, in a very land-forward take on the concept of armageddon (it’s no big thing, just Mother Earth doing what she does).  

Lush landscapes, red-hot romance, gorgeous songs from Indigenous musicians (including Oscar winner Buffy Sainte-Marie) and glorious aesthetics courtesy of noted Anishinaabekwe artist Rebecca Belmore all contribute to a dreamy “no plot, just vibes” atmosphere. GG


Directed by Tearepa Kahi, written by Kahi and Jason Nathan. International premiere at TIFF and in New Zealand theaters from September 1. 

Then again, maybe Indigenous audiences want to see a revisionist action-drama in a realistic setting, with real-life activists playing themselves in a boldly decolonized blurring of fact and fiction? Would it also help if the key creative team is Indigenous and the story is largely scripted in the Native tongue? (Māori, in this case, which is true to daily life in the remote Tūhoe tribal village that Muru is set in.) Add in a killer cast lead by veteran action star Cliff Curtis (Training Day, Whale Rider, Sunshine and recent fave, Murina), ably supported by Manu Bennett (30 Days of Night), Jay Ryan (It Chapter Two) and a busload of cute kids? We say “kia ora to that!”.

Tearepa Kahi’s fourth feature arrives direct to TIFF from its homeland premiere, where it disorientated some audience members who were expecting a diligent recreation of a 2007 New Zealand police raid on a Tūhoe survivalist training camp (suspecting the tribe of plotting domestic terrorism). Instead, Kahi loosely uses the event to tilt at all the stories of oppression of his people—mistreatments that go back over a century, to the bungled 1916 raids on Māori prophet Rua Kenana. 

The fictional set-up sees Curtis as a low-key local boy-in-blue forced to choose between his badge and his people when sovereignty is mistaken for national threats and community solutions are overlooked in favor of institutional justice. Those of you used to the contemporary gothic of Jane Campion or the tragicomedy of Taika Waititi will need to buckle up for the all-out fireworks at the peak of this Kiwi film, as Kahi allows his cast to go full Steven Seagal, including legendary activist Tame Iti, who legendarily plays himself. There were whoops and cheers, but the Tūhoe Natives I was sitting amongst were weeping at the catharsis of a not-so-fictional story told true. LK

The Banshees of Inisherin

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh. Premiering at Venice and playing at TIFF and Fantastic Fest before releasing in US theaters on October 21 from Searchlight Pictures. 

At this point, Martin McDonagh is probably—for me—still coasting on goodwill from In Bruges, his transgressive and hyper-quotable black comedy and dreary hitman travelog about a contract killer emotionally recovering from a botched assignment. His last feature, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouriwent through critical whiplash, quickly picking up awards season acclaim before everyone else took a moment to consider the film’s questionable approach to its own morality play and attempts to explore various American pathologies—racism in policing being but one topic the filmmaker mishandled. (McDonagh’s film before that, 2012’s Seven Psychopaths, I’m much more in favor of.)

So why my excitement for The Banshees of Inisherin? For starters, there’s a strong correlation between Martin McDonagh films I like, and Martin McDonagh films starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. In their new pairing, they play lifelong friends Pádraic (Farrell) and Colm (Gleeson), who find themselves at an impasse when Colm unexpectedly puts an end to their friendship. When the former tries to repair the relationship, Colm threatens to cut off a finger (and then post it to his former friend) every time Pádraic talks to him. It’s a bizarre and very hurtful premise, but one that seems perfect for all involved—Farrell, a noted expert at wounded sad sacks, and Gleeson, always entertaining to watch when he’s playing someone embittered. 

The film looks keyed into the same kind of prickly chemistry the two had in In Bruges, with another volatile friendship on the brink of collapse, and if there’s anything McDonagh excels at, it’s conjuring great performances out of his actors, especially with desperate characters. Rather than two assassins taking shelter however, The Banshees of Inisherin, despite the mythic name, goes even more remote than his last few rounds of desert landscapes and small towns, set on an island off the west coast of Ireland, with a smaller cast and hopefully more focus. KC

The Fabelmans

Directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Spielberg and Tony Kushner. Premiering at TIFF and releasing in US theaters November 23 from Universal Pictures.

Steven Spielberg finally made his first full-on musical last year with his take on West Side Story, a film that many felt saved cinema… those who saw it, at least. While the box-office numbers weren’t quite there, the awards run was as proficient as could be expected from a man who hit the ground running early on and has nary slowed down since. 

With the dust settled on the Sharks and the Jets, good ol’ Stevey is taking a trip down memory lane for The Fabelmans, which makes its premiere at TIFF. Not much is known about the plot details of Spielberg’s latest. We don’t even yet have a poster (the image above is of Spielberg as a youngster, with his parents). But what we do know is fascinating: a semi-autobiographical tale based on the director’s childhood growing up in post-war Arizona, this is going to be material ripe for him to indulge in all of his greatest inclinations. From Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial through A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Catch Me If You Can, Spielberg has always used his filmmaking passion to navigate his own complex ideas surrounding childhood and particularly father-son dynamics. 

Gabriel LaBelle takes on the role of the young Spielberg surrogate, and he’ll be surrounded by a positively loaded cast: Paul Dano as Spielberg’s father, Michelle Williams as his mother (sporting an instantly iconic wig to capture the essence of Leah Spielberg), and Seth Rogen as his uncle. One thing that has film nerds drooling, though, is the casting of none other than David Lynch in a role that is technically still undisclosed but is heavily rumored to be that of another legendary director, John Ford, whom Spielberg idolized and met at the age of fifteen. MB

Don’t Worry Darling

Directed by Olivia Wilde, written by Cary Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke and Katie Silberman. Premiering at Venice before releasing in theaters September 23 from Warner Bros Pictures. 

Actor Olivia Wilde made her feature directing debut with 2019’s Booksmart, a film that dominated discourse and received oodles of love on Letterboxd. She’s back this year with Don’t Worry Darling, and if you thought the discourse for her first film was a lot… well, buckle in. Her sophomore feature has dominated headlines of late, possessing the perfect cocktail of buzz-attracting elements: high-profile stars, contentious production rumors, an on-set romance. Even in the process of writing and editing this piece, more headlines have been made to keep Twitter swirling. But press storm aside, there’s plenty that demands intrigue here from the film itself.

Working off a 2019 Black List script, Wilde shifts sharply away from the lighthearted comedy of Booksmart, instead going for reality-bending The Stepford Wives meets The Truman Show fare. Don’t Worry Darling continues the long cinematic tradition of sinister suburbs, revolving around young couple Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles, biting into his meatiest role yet alongside his other leading role in festival player My Policeman), who live in a utopian community orchestrated by his mysterious, cult-like employer (Chris Pine!).

In proper psychological thriller fashion, Alice discovers worrisome cracks amidst the manicured curb appeal. But if there’s one thing I won’t worry about, it’s Pugh’s ability to command a screen, as proven by her recent Oscar-nominated turn as the oft-maligned littlest woman (Amy March defenders, rise!) and Midsommar’s desolate, full-body wails. What’s one more cult? AL

Mister Organ

Directed by David Farrier. Premiering at Fantastic Fest before releasing in New Zealand cinemas November 10. 

If David Farrier’s previous work is any indication, then Mister Organ is guaranteed to be a wild ride. The New Zealand journalist, podcaster (Armchaired & Dangerous) and documentarian specializes in deep dives into unusual phenomena and the subcultures that rise up around them, frequently uncovering sinister characters lurking behind strange but seemingly harmless facades. Take his 2016 documentary Tickled—without giving away too much, let’s just say that the world of competitive tickling is even more bizarre, and significantly more dangerous, than it might seem at first glance. 

With Mister Organ, Farrier investigates a tempest in a teapot that’s happening right outside his window: The Bashford Antiques clamping scandal, which he initially covered in a six-part series for New Zealand periodical The Spinoff in 2017. It’s a perfect David Farrier story, beginning with an eccentric local doing something spooky—in this case, the owner of an Auckland antique store aggressively towing and putting wheel clamps (called “boots” in America) on cars that park in any of its four lots. Inconsequential, kind of funny, end of story, right? Not with David Farrier on the case. What he uncovers is a parking attendant who also claims to be a lawyer and a Prince, of whom his family, friends, and former roommates all seem terrified. What’s the truth behind the mysterious Michael Organ? All will be revealed when Mister Organ premieres at Fantastic Fest. KR

Bones and All

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, written by David Kajganich. Premiering at Venice and playing at Fantastic Fest and NYFF before releasing in US theaters on November 23 from MGM and United Artists. 

The director of Call Me By Your Name? Yes. The star of Call Me By Your Name? Awesome. A love story so intense it might take that story about an all-consuming passion for someone into more dangerous, literal realms? Nothing could make Bones and All better. Well, except the co-stars joining Luca Guadagnino and Timothée Chalamet: none other than incandescent rising star Taylor Russell, who wowed in 2019’s Waves, and beloved thespian Mark Rylance. 

With this many great names attached, there is, naturally, already some buzz (especially on Letterboxd) about the adaptation of Camille DeAngelis’ novel of the same name, centered around two cannibalistic lovers who set out on a road trip across 1980s America. Many look forward to another Luca and Timmy collaboration, while the Taylor Russell hive is also good and ready—but what I think is most interesting are the hypotheses about “EMO TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET”, “Indie Timothee”, and “timothée in his gore era.” 

The first glimpses of footage lean more on genre than context, by which I mean it’s poetic, it’s dark, it’s fascinating. YA love stories can suffer in translation from page to screen; a little saccharine, a little, well, young. But as we know, this team knows exactly what it’s doing. It’s Luca. It’s Timmy and Taylor. It is, for some reason, Mark Rylance. And who knows what horrific love Bones and All has in store for us. EK

No Bears

Written and directed by Jafar Panahi. Premiering at Venice and playing at TIFF and NYFF

In July 2022, director Jafar Panahi was arrested in his home country of Iran and sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of “propaganda against the system”. Panahi was imprisoned for the same reasons in 2010 and barred from leaving Iran and making films for twenty years. He has, however, notoriously bypassed the rules and worked on several films in this period. These include 2011’s cleverly titled This Is Not a Film, which dwells on the future of Iranian cinema through the lens of the director’s sentencing (the film infamously played at the Cannes Film Festival after being smuggled on a USB drive hidden inside a cake) and 2015’s Golden Bear-winning docufiction Taxi, where Panahi takes the role of a cabbie, driving strangers through the bustling streets of Tehran as they candidly tell him about their lives. 

The director’s latest, No Bears, which will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival mere weeks after his arrest, is labeled as yet another searing investigation of power structures that places Panahi at its center. “He feels trapped, with no future, no freedom and no job,” says an undisclosed narrator in the film’s trailer, a taste of the metatextual nature of this work that sees the director reflect on the constraints of his predicament as he tells the stories of two couples fighting against the social apparatus that surrounds them. On Letterboxd, bluetaraxia writes exactly what we’re all thinking: “I’m in.” RSR

Wendell & Wild

Directed by Henry Selick, written by Selick and Jordan Peele. Premiering at TIFF before releasing in November from Netflix. 

Cinema screens have gone far too long without stop-motion legend Henry Selick’s combination of whimsy, gothic expressivity and uncanny spookiness. Wendell & Wild is the correction to this, the maestro’s first feature film since 2009’s Coraline and his subsequent separation from Laika Studios. Several abandoned Walt Disney and Pixar projects later, Selick was approached by Jordan Peele (pre-Get Out) about the potential for collaborating (Peele studied puppetry in college). They went about adapting an idea for a children’s story that Selick had about his young grandsons, cheekily imagining them as little demons, who became Wendell and Wild, characters played in the film by Peele and his comedy partner Keegan Michael-Key.

With the keen sensibilities for horror and comedy that Peele has shown both in his feature films and in the duo’s sketch show Key & Peele, it’s a match made in heaven (or rather, hell) with Selick’s own playfulness for rather macabre ideas. Over months of collaborating and improvising, the story became about the little demons’ attempts to escape into the human world by recruiting thirteen-year-old Kat (Lyric Ross), a teenager troubled by her time in juvenile detention.

Perhaps most exciting to me is seeing Selick play with the textures, tones and vibes of metal music as well as the Afropunk aesthetic through the incorporation of Kat’s musical interests, an exploration perhaps encouraged by Peele’s own idiosyncrasies. Going off brief previews during my time at this year’s Annecy festival, the combination of all of the above—on paper, seemingly tailor-made for me—seems to be working. It’s been a long road to get to Wendell & Wild, but it looks like a worthwhile one. KC

Special Mention

We’d be silly not to close by noting the world premiere of Canadian journalist, filmmaker and Letterboxd member Chandler Levack’s debut feature, I Like Movies.

If the title alone wasn’t catnip for Letterboxd types, the dramedy’s synopsis, concerning a teenage cinephile video store employee called Lawrence who dreams of getting to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, has us screaming already: “As graduation looms ever closer, a series of painful realizations force Lawrence to realize that he is a pretentious asshole.” Absolutely nobody around here is feeling attacked (and we have it on good authority that the film is charming and lovely). As a bonus, the film’s titles were made by our pal Lola Landekić of Art of the Title fame. The film will screen in TIFF’s Discovery section.

Masks on, sweaters on, see you at the movies!

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