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All films start at 7.45pm unless otherwise stated.

Thursday 23 May

LORO (18)

The Great Beauty director, Paolo Sorrentino returns to the tumultuous sleaze of recent Italian politics last seen in Il Divo, with a no-holds-barred satire of the life and misfortunes of the corrupt, scandal-ridden Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his inner circle. Ambitious and salacious, Loro presents infamous events, both known and imagined, in a cynical, sharp-eyed portrayal of power and how to obtain it.

Sorrentino regular Toni Servillo plays Berlusconi, in a thought provoking character study that doesn’t glamorise the corruption and vulgarity we see on screen.

Italy/France (Italian dialogue with English subtitles), 2019, 151 mins

Further information regarding scenes used by the BBFC to determine the film's certification, may be found at the extended classification link – please note that this page contains spoilers.

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Friday 24 and Saturday 25 May

RED JOAN (12A)

Renowned British theatre director Trevor Nunn casts Judi Dench as Joan Stanley, an unassuming retired physicist with a clandestine past. Adapted from the bestselling novel by Jennie Rooney and inspired by the life of British KGB agent Melita Norwood, the film finds Joan living quietly in suburban London in 2000 before she is charged with providing intelligence to Russia during the Cold War. Nunn’s well crafted thriller flashes back to 1938 and Joan (Sophie Cookson) studying physics at Cambridge and falling for Leo, a young socialist firebrand. Inevitably she has to face an ideological dilemma.

UK, 2018, 101 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Thursday 30 May

RAFIKI (12A)

A cinematic cause célèbre that has been banned in Kenya and led to a high court challenge on the countries’ constitution, Rafiki (‘friend’ in Swahili) is first and foremost a tender love story of forbidden romance. In Nairobi, Kena is helping her father campaign for a local election when she meets and befriends Ziki, the daughter of his political rival. As their relationship deepens, so do its stakes, forcing them to choose between openness and secrecy, happiness and safety.

Rafiki is a confident and polished work, a brave and groundbreaking film with a fresh and unfussy chemistry between its two leads, Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva.

Kenya/South Africa/Germany/Netherlands/France/Norway/Lebanon (English and Swahili dialogue with English subtitles), 2018, 82 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian ::

Friday 31 May 6.00 - 9.30pm

ARTS, MEDIA & DESIGN SHOW, 2019

Final graduation films from film production students and class of 2019, featuring comedy and action drama, non-fiction and documentary, experimental and personal short films.

Saturday 1 June

EIGHTH GRADE (15)

13-year-old Kayla is in her last week of middle school and is unbearably awkward and riddled with anxiety, longing for a transformation into the confident online persona that she adopts for her YouTube advice videos that no one watches. As high school approaches, Kayla musters up all the positive thinking she can to turn her, thus far, disastrous year around.

Bo Burnham’s critically acclaimed feature film debut is a hilarious and heartfelt coming-of-age comedy-drama following the trials and tribulations of adolescence, with a phenomenally good performance by Elsie Fisher as Kayla.

USA, 2018, 94 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Tuesday 4 June

HIGH LIFE (18)

Claire Denis makes her English language debut with this strange science fiction tale that verges on the surreal. Robert Pattinson stars as Monte, one of a motley crew of convicts sent into deepest space to investigate black holes. On route, their medical officer (Juliette Binoche), dubbed the "shaman of semen", performs sexual experiments on the crew in a bid to see if conception is possible in the outskirts of space.

Fearless, mind-bending and daring, this is not like any other sci-fi you know, a realignment of tropes to create a startlingly fresh and curious take on human fragility.

UK/France/Germany/Poland/USA, 2018, 113 mins

Further information regarding scenes used by the BBFC to determine the film's certification, may be found at the extended classification link - please note that this page contains spoilers.

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Thursday 6 June

DONBASS (15)

Sergei Loznitsa’s new work examines the civil conflict in Ukraine through the prism of black humour and the absurd. A scathing political commentary on the war that has been raging in Eastern Ukraine for years, where propaganda is used as often as artillery. Impressively choreographed vignettes, sometimes deliberately theatrical or referencing the format of TV reports that are left open to interpretation for this post-truth media-age. Donbass is a grotesque tour de force, focussing on the human reactions and prejudices underlying political extremes.

Germany/Ukraine/France/Netherlands/Romania (Russian and English Dialogue with English subtitles), 2018, 122 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian ::

Friday 7 and Saturday 8 June

TOLKIEN (12A)

Tolkien explores the formative years of the author J.R.R. Tolkien, from his early life with his brother in a Birmingham orphanage, to Oxford University and friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts and the First World War that threatens to tear their fellowship apart.. Nicholas Hoult plays Tolkien, giving a quietly assured performance, conveying fear and desperation in a glance or stance, in an enjoyable biopic that doesn’t shirk from showing Tolkien’s brutal experiences on the battlefields of the Somme.

USA, 2019, 112 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Thursday 13 June

WOMAN AT WAR (12A)

Halla leads a quiet, routine existence. But her upbeat exterior hides a secret double life as a committed environmental activist, waging a one-woman-war on the local aluminium industry through guerilla tactics and creative use of her crossbow. Her campaign is approaching a crescendo when she discovers that her dreams of becoming a mother may be fulfilled sooner than she thinks.

Benedikt Erlingsson follows up Of Horses and Men with this warm-hearted and utterly unique look at an Icelandic eco-warrior with mix of gentle satire, environmental insurrection and off-the-wall humour.

Iceland/France/Ukraine (Icelandic, Spanish, English and Ukrainian dialogue with English subtitles), 2018, 100 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer ::

Friday 14 June

BEATS (18)

It’s 1994 and the Tory government’s clampdown on youth culture has reached West Lothian, where the local pirate radio station is planning one last hedonistic hurrah. Aware that their lives will diverge at the end of summer, teenage friends Jonno and Spanner pull out all the stops to attend the illegal protest rave, on a journey into an underworld of anarchy and freedom.

Beats is a monochrome, universal story of friendship, rebellion and the irresistible power of gathered youth, set to an eclectic and electrifying soundtrack.

UK (B/W), 2019, 101 mins

Further information regarding scenes used by the BBFC to determine the film's certification, may be found at the extended classification link - please note that this page contains spoilers.

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer ::

Saturday 15 June

AMAZING GRACE (U)

Almost 50 years after technical issues scuppered its original release, Sydney Pollack’s concert film about Aretha Franklin’s legendary gospel album Amazing Grace is finally on the big screen. Shot over two nights in January 1972, the film shows a then 30-year-old Franklin return to her gospel roots at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Amazing Grace is an extraordinary document of a truly remarkable figure in American music, in a transcendent film capturing the energy of Aretha’s revelatory performance.

USA, 2018, 88 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Monday 17 June

ISLAND (15)

What happens when we die? We tend to linger on the existential questions rather than the simple practical facts of death, which are explored with subtlety, imagination and unvarnished honesty in this searching documentary. At times necessarily harrowing, as it witnesses the final stages of peoples’ lives, Island is also a work of great delicacy that evinces a tender respect for every one of the people involved. Director Steven Eastwood combines observational footage of rarely seen and intensely private moments, with contemplative shots of the changing seasons and the coastal landscapes of its Isle of Wight location.

UK, 2017, 90 mins

An optional Q+A will follow the film, with a panel representing palliative care consultants and social workers, chaired by David Webster, CEO of the Douglas Macmilan Hospice.

Reviews: :: The Guardian ::

Thursday 20 June

AMAZING GRACE (U)

Almost 50 years after technical issues scuppered its original release, Sydney Pollack’s concert film about Aretha Franklin’s legendary gospel album Amazing Grace is finally on the big screen. Shot over two nights in January 1972, the film shows a then 30-year-old Franklin return to her gospel roots at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Amazing Grace is an extraordinary document of a truly remarkable figure in American music, in a transcendent film capturing the energy of Aretha’s revelatory performance.

USA, 2018, 88 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Friday 21 and Saturday 22 June

ROCKETMAN (15)

The much anticipated musical biopic telling the story of Elton John’s life, through his years as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music, his influential and enduring musical partnership with Bernie Taupin and the struggles encountered in his personal life.

Taron Egerton stars as Elton John with support from a cast including Jamie Bell, Richard Madden as John Reid, Bryce Dallas Howard and Gemma Jones.

UK/USA, 2019, 121 mins

Thursday 27 June

BIRDS OF PASSAGE (15)

Birds of Passage charts the thrilling rise and fall of the indigenous Wayuu tribe of northern Colombia, beginning in the late 1960s when a strict code of familial tradition and sacred ritual governs. Outsider Rapayet has his sights set on marrying Zaida, the recently of-age daughter of the clan’s formidable matriarch, but is unable to afford the extravagant dowry. Rapayet thinks that the solution may lie in different merchandise, and dealing drugs rather than selling coffee; triggering a chain of events that would forever change the lives of the once humble tribe.

This is a breathtaking, epic crime thriller from Embrace of the Serpent creators Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, framed by an exploration of colonialism, tribalism and modernism.

Colombia/Denmark/Mexico/Germany/Switzerland (Wayuu, Spanish and English dialogue with English subtitles), 2018, 126 mins

Friday 28 and Saturday 29 June

GLORIA BELL (15)

Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria Bell is an English language remake of his own 2013 Film Gloria, starring Julianne Moore as a divorced mother rediscovering herself in later life. Lelio relocates the story from Santiago to Los Angeles, where Gloria is a free-spirited divorcée who spends her days at a strait-laced office job and her nights on the dance floor, joyfully letting loose at clubs around the city. When she finds herself thrust into an unexpected new romance with Arnold (John Turturro), the joys and complications of dating, identity and family prove to be daunting.

Gloria Bell is a sophisticated, mature but uplifting romantic comedy

that shows love can strike at any time, and nothing can get you down as long as you keep dancing.

Chile/USA, 2018, 102 mins

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Stoke Film Theatre, College Road, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2EH Registered Charity no. 504600