Director: Rashaad Ernesto Green
Cast: Zora Howard
, Joshua Boone, and Michelle Wilson
A young woman spending one last summer in Harlem before heading off to college unexpectedly falls in love with a talented musician.
Why You Should See It: You could fill a book with all the love stories – good and bad – set in the sprawling neighborhoods of New York City. When the right narrative and the right performer combine, it’s the kind of film that can break your heart. Such is the case with “Premature.” For its many other stengths, Ernesto Green’s film may just be remembered as a star-making turn for lead actress and co-writer Zora Howard, who offers what our Joe Blessing called “a performance that rings with the authenticity and vulnerability of personal experience.”
Our Review:  B+ (Sundance Film Festival)
Release Information: “Premature” will receive a theatrical release on February 21, 2020.

Director: Sarah Gavron
Cast: Bukky Bakray
, Kosar Ali, and D’angelou Osei Kissiedu
A London teenager suddenly finds herself responsible for her own future and that of her younger brother when her mother unexpectedly disappears from the picture.
Why You Should See It: Working from an original story by British-Nigerian playwright Theresa Ikoko, “Rocks” was lauded for many critics for its unwillingness to frame its survival story as defeatest. Gavron and co-writer Claire Wilson also make it clear that the title character and her friends are in charge of their own futures, adults be damned. “There’s still no stereotypical Cool Aunt or Friendly Teacher,” wrote our own Ella Kemp, “no adult to swoop in and teach these girls about life’s hard lessons and lead the way – and there never needs to be.”
Our Review:  B+ (Toronto International Film Festival)
Release Information: No release information is available at this time.

Sea Fever
Director: Neasa Hardiman
Cast: Connie Nielsen
, Hermione Corfield, and Dougray Scott
When a sea creature begins attacking the crew of a small fishing vessel, only the marine biology student onboard holds the secret to survival.
Why You Should See It: Good maritime and ecological horror are always in high-demand, which is what makes “Sea Fever” one of the more exciting horror prospects of 2020. In her review of the film, our Kimber Myers notes that the film carefully rises above its inspirations, evoking comparisons to films like “Alien” and “Jaws” without feeling like a simple retread of those ideas. This is a “profoundly humane and humanist film,” Myers wrote, “whose ideas stays with you longer than the nightmares.”
Our Review:  B+ (Toronto International Film Festival)
Release Information: “Sea Fever” will receive a theatrical release sometime in early 2020.

Sorry We Missed You
Director: Ken Loach
Cast: Kris Hitchen
, Debbie Honeywood, and Rhys Stone
Struggling to make ends meet, a London family turns to gig economy work, only to come face-to-face with the unlevel playing field of the modern worker.
Why You Should See It: In the world of film criticism, having your feature described as didactic can widely be perceived as a negative. This is a stigma we should look to overcome. Ours is a period of political and economic uncertainty, after all, and movies that slam their intentions home with no regard for subtlety make up in purpose what they may lack in artistic ambiguity. Loach may be a Cannes institution, but as our Bradley Warren noted, that does not make this latest feature any less significant. This is, he wrote, is why “Sorry We Missed You” is “essential viewing.”
Our Review:  A- (Cannes Film Festival)
Release Information: “Sorry We Missed You” will receive a theatrical release in March 2020.

Sound of Metal
Director: Darius Marder
Cast: Riz Ahmed
, Olivia Cooke, and Mathieu Amalric
When the drummer in a metal duo suddenly starts to lose his hearing, his carefully constructed life – and the coping mechanisms that allow him to deal with his drug addiction – began to fall apart.
Why You Should See It: Any time an audience member faints during the premiere of your film, you know you’ve created something that will get people talking. So was the case during the TIFF premiere of Marder’s movie, when an unnamed man had to be carried out during one of the film’s now-infamous performance sequences. Still, for as punk-rock as this may seem to indie moviegoers, our own Charles Bramesco describes “Sound of Metal” as a powerful character study, with Ahmed getting a chance to deliver “career-best work by a wide margin, letting out all his ferocity and vulnerability as if from a freshly lanced boil.”
Our Review:  B+ (Toronto International Film Festival)
Release Information: “Sound of Metal” will receive a theatrical release sometime in 2020.