Military Wives


Remember “The Full Monty” (1997) from director Peter Cattaneo, the hilarious feature about unemployed steel workers reborn as strippers? Cattaneo’s fun new movie follows a different ensemble, the wives of deployed service men who take up choral singing. Kristin Scott Thomas does “posh” brilliantly as the meddling colonel’s wife on the army base who feels obligated to take the lead in boosting morale through uplifting activities to distract wives from the grim realities their husbands face in Afghanistan. Together with Sharon Horgan as a totally sympathetic, unaffected Irishwoman they forge a successful band of women who delight as choral singers and realize their unlikely goal. This warm and sensitive crowd-pleaser is based on a true story.

UK 2019 (112 minutes)

Sponsor: British Consulate General San Francisco

5:00 p.m Reception
Laureate Bar and Lounge, 444 Presidio Avenue, San Francisco.
Everyone is invited.


This gentle film centers on a Northland dairy farmer, Ross (Marshall Napier), who is locked away in stoic silence. There is certainly an intimidating quality to his steely reserve but not for his sweet, upbeat wife, Beth, who manages to reach him. When she dies, he retreats even further inward. Unable to express his grief, his sensitive son and the community reach out to help. This emotionally tender film unfolds with gentle warmth not through words but gestures, which forge a deep bond in the community. Set against delightful cinematography of isolated rural landscapes and farm life in New Zealand, natural and psychological elements softly weave together.

New Zealand 2019 (96 minutes)

Say My Name

This amusing screwball comedy, set on a picturesque island off the coast of southern Wales, is a fast-paced rom-com that twists and turns at a dizzying pace. A one-night stand turns into quite the bumpy ride for Mary (Lisa Brenner) and Statton (Nick Blood). She’s confident and clever. Him? Not so much. A botched robbery leads to mishaps and mayhem, forcing the accidental couple to work together to stay alive. Deborah Frances-White, a British-Australian comedian (of the Guilty Feminist podcast), penned the script, and it was directed by an American, Jay Stern.

UK 2018 (83 minutes)

Guests: Lisa Brenner and Jay Stern

Lisa Brenner not only stars in “Say My Name,” but she is also the producer. She is best known for her role in “The Patriot,” and also was in “Finding Home,” “Cesar Chavez” and “The Remains.” She has guest starred in “Criminal Minds,” “The Mentalist” and all three “CSIs.”

Jay Stern is a writer, director and producer based in New York. “Say My Name” is the fourth feature he has directed. He is also the founder and co-host of the Iron Mule Short Comedy Screening Series, screening since 2002.

Interviewed by Festival Co-Director Ruthe Stein


A sweet romance set against the greenery of Hampstead, a posh London suburb, is irresistible when the lovers of a certain age are played by Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson. Following the death of her British husband, Keaton finds herself financially strapped – an unusual predicament for a Hampstead resident. Gleeson is even further down the ladder, an Irish squatter living in a rancid shed. When neighbors try to evict him, she rushes to his rescue. The film is based on a true story but plays like a fairytale.

UK 2017 (102 minutes)

Sponsor: Fran and Gerry Schall

Only You

Two charismatic actors take a deep emotional dive into their roles as a couple, passionately in love, in this drama set in Glasgow. It’s practically love at first sight for Elena (Spanish actress Laia Costa) and Jake (British actor Josh O’Connor), who meet cute sharing a cab on New Year’s Eve. He’s 26; she’s 35, and her biological clock is ticking. Their journey towards parenthood is told with heartfelt honesty in this debut feature written and directed by British TV screenwriter Harry Wootliff (who, despite the name, is a woman).

UK 2019 (119 minutes)

Sponsor: Bruce Lymburn

Merata: How Mum Decolonized the Screen

This is the untold story of a remarkable, fearless woman, the first Indigenous Maori woman to solely write and direct a feature film in the 1970s. Merata Mita was a pioneering activist filmmaker seeking to decolonize the screen – as she said “our land gets taken, fisheries and forests get taken and …so do our stories”. Her documentaries highlight injustices faced by her people.

New Zealand 2018 (89 minutes)


An effervescent musical from New Zealand, “Daffodils” is a bittersweet love story told with enchanting re-imaginings of iconic New Zealand pop songs. Leaving her dying father’s bedside, Maisie rushes to sing at an indie music gig. But as she performs, it’s hard for her to ignore the heartfelt story she’s just been told about how her dad met and fell in love with her mother, and how it all devastatingly fell apart. Told with warmth and liveliness, and filmed in vivid hues worthy of its title, this is a spirited charmer that beautifully captures the nuances of a marriage as the decades unfold.

New Zealand 2019 (93 minutes)

Top End Wedding

This charming, multi-cultural romantic comedy is the latest in Australian cinema’s attempts to depict the growing number of interracial marriages involving Aboriginals and white people. The bride-to-be, an ambitious courtroom lawyer played by the lovely Miranda Tapsell (“The Sapphires”), although estranged from her Aboriginal roots, stops the wedding procedure until her runaway Indigenous mother can be found. She and her bumbling fiancé (Gwilym Lee of “Bohemian Rhapsody”) search the remote Northern Territory, the top center state of Australia and nearby Tiwi Islands, home to a small Aboriginal community. The vivid landscapes complement this winning story of familial bonding as love attempts to find its way. “Top End Wedding” was the second largest grossing film in Australia in 2019.  

Australia 2019 (102 minutes)

Sponsor: Australian Consulate General San Francisco


Ben Mendelsohn returns to his native Australia to make this touching family drama. He plays the psychiatrist father of a 16-year-old losing her battle against cancer. He and his wife manage to hold it together until their daughter, a beloved only child, falls head over heels for an older drug dealer with a magnetic smile and a touch of blarney. After initially warning her to stay away, the parents realize that this inappropriate beau makes their daughter feel alive. Based on a hit Australian play, Shannon Murphy’s first feature has been collecting raves at film festivals.

Australia 2019 (120 minutes)

Guest: Ben Mendelsohn

After a rich career in Australian films and television, including a breakout role in “The Year My Voice Broke,” Ben Mendelsohn became known internationally for the crime drama “Animal Kingdom.” Since then he has had roles in “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Rogue One,” “Captain Marvel” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” He won an Emmy for the Netflix series “Bloodline,” and is currently starring in HBO’s “The Outsider.” He will be interviewed by fellow Aussie James Wooley, the new executive Director of Frameline, San Francisco’s International LGBTQ+Film Festival. Wooley previously was head of marketing and customer relations at the Sydney Film Festival.

Co-Presenter: SFFILM

Sponsor: Australian Consulate General San Francisco

Hearts and Bones

This moving Australian drama takes us into the world of photojournalist Daniel Fisher (“The Matrix’s”Hugo Weaving), who suffers PTSD upon returning home from yet another war zone. The film explores his challenge adjusting to civilian life and family relationships, but the principal storyline focuses on his complicated, tangled friendship with a South Sudanese migrant fleeing a brutal past. Secrets are revealed nearly ending in devastation. Multiple subplots play out in unexpected ways. The closing sequence– a heartbreaking montage of actual refugee crisis photos–recalls the courage and suffering of immigrants who risk all to remake lives in new places.

Australia 2019 (111 minutes)

Sponsor: Australian Consulate General San Francisco