In The Columnist, reading the comments isn’t bad—being a toxic online troll is

The trailer for The Columnist

Maybe this is too wonky for those outside of film nerdom to care, but 2020 has cemented a fundamental truth about festivals—international films are increasingly the MVP of this scene. Sure, at the highest of high profile events (Cannes, TIFF, Sundance, Telluride), you can reliably get a sneak peek at the titles showing up at the next Oscars ceremony. But for the rest of us who maybe only make it to one or two of these things that tend to be local affairs (shout out to Austin Film Festival and Fantastic Fest), a lot of the most interesting stuff available comes from abroad. Russia’s Zoology (now on Amazon Prime) took How Stella Got Her Groove Back and gave it a dystopian sci-fi setting in 2016. Sweden’s Border (streaming on Hulu) found a fantastic approach to examine national borders and how we treat others in 2018, and it played some of the same events as the gripping filmmaking of Denmark’s The Guilty (also on Hulu before the US version with Jake Gyllenhaal happens). And last year, anyone even remotely following the film calendar was aware of Bong Joon-Ho’s masterful Parasite (Hulu, again, really getting it done) rising up from the festival scene to the Oscars stage.

Our year of COVID-19 may only be strengthening this trend. Big US feature films with hopes for a theatrical run seem hesitant to participate in festivals that exist only as VOD. Small shorts looking to make a splash and find a deal for full-length productions have hit pause, too, preferring to save their “premiere” bargaining chip for a time when film festivals can bring industry folks together in person once more. But international films, some of which have already enjoyed theatrical runs in their home countries (last year or during a better pandemic response), simply come to festivals to find new audiences and maybe upgrade for a US theatrical run or a wider-reaching streaming service deal. That’s still happening in 2020. And in a year where US film fans may be starved for new titles to get excited about, we all need to hope the Netherlands’ The Columnist soon transitions from the festival scene to your preferred at-home screen.

Talk about relatable

Dutch newspaper columnist Femke Boot (Katja Herbers, Westworld) writes about the toxic aspects of online culture, which means anonymous haters on Twitter and Facebook or in comment threads just love her. All that bile seems to grow exponentially with each of Boot’s new columns or appearances. “We are all people, and we shouldn’t forget that,” Boot says while appearing as an analyst on some 24-hour news channel’s “Twitter: A Blessing or a Curse?” special. “Well, we also shouldn’t forget to recycle or to eat our vegetables,” responds her counterpart, a conservative fiction writer named Stephen Dood (Bram van der Kelen). His work, naturally, seems to often involve an awful lot of murder and violence against women.

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