One of the highlights of every annual Program Guide is Professor Matthew Bernstein’s* must-see films list. He painstakingly reviews a slew of films in each year's lineup, and 2016 has him as enthusiastic as ever.
We'll be featuring his picks, one-by-one, leading up to the festival's Opening Night on January 26. Of course, if you can't wait to see his entire write-up, make sure to grab your copy of the official Program Guide.
Highly atmospheric and credible, Demon packs a powerful punch as a modern retelling of the Dybbuk story, which in Jewish folklore refers to the possession of the living by the soul of a dead person who was never properly buried. Here a London-based Polish groom (a superb Itay Tiran) is possessed by the spirit of a past resident of the small town where he will make his future home. But in a bit of bad timing, his possession occurs the day of his wedding. Demon uniquely alternates between The Exorcist-type serious drama (without the pea soup) and social comedy, as Piotr’s bride and in-laws struggle to understand what is happening to him, and then try to hide his serious but implausible condition from the guests by serving more vodka. But nearly all the characters have something to hide, as does the entire town, a tradition that the ambiguous ending suggests may continue.
*Dr. Matthew Bernstein is the Goodrich C. White Professor of Film and Media Studies and department chair at Emory University.
Previous Must See Films of 2016