Critically acclaimed film The Favourite directed by the Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos will have the honour to open the 47th edition of FEST. This darkly humorous historical drama depicts the behind-the-scenes politics between two cousins jockeying to be court favourites during the reign of Queen Anne in the early 18th century.
Yorgos Lanthimos is one of the most original voices of contemporary auteur film, credited for bringing the Greek "weird wave" into spotlight. Belgrade film lovers got a taste of his unique poetic and world-view already at the start of his career- in 2010 FEST screened Dogtooth, which brought Lanthimos an Oscar nomination and kick-started his career. In 2016 FEST screened The Lobster, which won him a Jury Prize in Cannes, and this year he was awarded the Grand Jury Prize in Venice for his new feature- The Favourite.
The script, direction, cinematography, costume design, music, set design... The critics are praising every aspect of the film. However, the biggest praise goes to the incredibly strong, star studded cast led by Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. Colman plays Queen Anne, an incompetent ruler plagued by health issues and a frail mind. Not particularly interested in governing and politics, the Queen rather spends her time on lobster racing and taking care of her 17 rabbits. Rachel Weisz plays Lady Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, Queen's close friend and confidante who secretly holds the reigns to the kingdom. Sarah's cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) gets a job at the court as a maid, and soon realizes she can manipulate the Queen's condition to her own advantage. Sarah and Abigail will prove to be worthy adversaries as they start their scheming and backstabbing ploys in order to win the position of the Queen's Favourite.
This film was 20 years in the making. Even though the screenplay fascinated producers from the get go, back in the day nobody wanted to fund a film with so few male roles. It seems that the right time for this story has come, and Lanthimos himself recognized its potential, claiming that he was drawn by the opportunity to create three unique, complex female characters, which you can't see often on the big screen. The Favourite is Lanthimos' first film based on someone else's screenplay, but it's nevertheless infused with the quirky dark humour and stylized aesthetic of this eccentric auteur. Still, the critics are calling it his "most accessible" feature yet.
While we wait for the official Oscar nominations, it's wildly speculated that The Favourite will secure nominations for best film, direction, screenplay, and its three main actresses. Olivia Colman won the Volpi cup for best actress in Venice, as well as the Golden Globe, and the film is an absolute favourite at the BAFTA's with impressive 12 nominations.
Last year's FEST was also kick-started by one of the most notable films of the season- Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri by Martin McDonagh. A few days after Belgrade audience watched this poignant drama, Francis McDormand and Sam Rockwell were awarded with Oscars for their exceptional roles.