October’s film releases feature women in all their multitudes, and working in a variety of professions. In “Lucy in the Sky” (October 4), an astronaut loses her grip on reality upon returning to Earth. Meanwhile, Jen Randall’s documentary, the UK release “Home” (October 18), charts British adventurer Sarah Outen’s voyage around the world, without shying away from its toll on her mental health.
Other documentaries this month also showcase women in their fields of work: October 16 brings Rosine Mbakam’s “Chez Jolie Coiffure” whose subject, Sabine, runs a salon located in the African quarter of Brussels, and Erin Derham’s “Stuffed,” which focuses on taxidermists. “The Cave” (October 18) follows Dr. Amani, a Syrian medical student offering much-needed assistance to those living in the harshest of living conditions, under shell bombardment.
On October 18, Angelina Jolie will return as “Sleeping Beauty’s” villainess in “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” the follow-up to 2014 hit “Maleficent.” The sequel sees the titular character’s relationship with Aurora (Elle Fanning) becoming even more complicated when the princess becomes engaged.
Several women-helmed festival pics are also hitting theaters in October. Directed by Shonali Bose, TIFF 2019 title “The Sky Is Pink” (October 11) traces one couple’s love story, and is narrated by their late daughter. Sundance 2019 films “Greener Grass” and “Paradise Hills” will be released on October 18 and 25, respectively. Written, directed, and starring Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, “Greener Grass” is a surreal suburban satire about the competition between two soccer moms. Alice Waddington’s “Paradise Hills” takes place at a fascist facility where young women are trained to become the best versions of themselves.
Elsewhere, animated film “The Addams Family” (October 11), co-written by Pamela Pettler, is out in time for some Halloween spooking, as are “Countdown” and UK release “Tales From the Lodge,” written and directed by Abigail Blackmore. The latter two open October 25.
Finally, audiences in the UK can enjoy the newest “Terminator” installment early, with “Terminator: Dark Fate,” headlined by Linda Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis, and Natalia Reyes, out on October 23. (It will make its way to U.S. theaters November 1.)
Here are all of the women-centric, women-directed, and women-written films debuting in October. All descriptions are from press materials unless otherwise noted.
“Hero: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life & Times of Mr. Ulric Cross” – Directed by Frances-Anne Solomon; Written by Frances-Anne Solomon, Akley Olton, and Nickolai Salcedo (Opens in the UK)
In 1941, Ulric Cross, a young man from Trinidad, leaves his island home to seek his fortune. He survives the War as the RAF’s most decorated West Indian. Then, his life takes another course, and he becomes part of the movement of history. Cross’ long life spanned key moments of the 20th century including independence in Africa and the Caribbean.
“Lucy in the Sky”
Natalie Portman plays Lucy Cola, a strong woman whose determination and drive as an astronaut take her to space, where she’s deeply moved by the transcendent experience of seeing her life from afar. Back home, as Lucy’s world suddenly feels too small, her connection with reality slowly unravels.
“Good Posture” – Written and Directed by Dolly Wells (Opens in the UK)
After breaking up with her boyfriend, Lilian (Grace Van Patten) moves in with married couple Julia (Emily Mortimer) and Don (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) only to overhear them arguing in the night. The front door slams as Don moves out, and the following days sees Lilian, selfish and irresponsible, having to earn her keep by cooking for Julia, a reclusive, distrustful writer who rarely emerges from her room. Though communicating largely through notes, the odd couple gradually forge a bond and help one another to negotiate the foibles, phobias, and obstacles that have long hindered their happiness.
“The Birdcatcher” (Opens in the UK) (Also Available on VOD)
Norway, 1942. During her attempt to flee Nazi persecution, 14-year-old Jewish girl Esther (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina) finds herself alone and forced to conceal her identity on a Nazi sympathizer farm. Forced to make a series of choices, her actions shift the paths of those around her.
“Collisions” (Opens in LA)
When 12-year-old Itan (Izabella Alvarez), a straight-A-student in San Francisco, comes home from school, she is stunned to find their furniture up-ended, and no trace of her mother, Yoana (Ana de la Reguera), who was detained by ICE. Child Protective Services dumps Itan and her six-year-old brother Neto (Jason Garcia) with their estranged uncle Evencio (Jesse Garcia), a big rig truck driver. Itan can’t stand him. He’s arrogant, unreliable, and possibly a criminal. After a desperate search, Itan locates Yoana in an immigration detention center in Arizona and convinces Evencio to take them there.
“Dilili in Paris” (Also Available on VOD)
Travel to the upper reaches and lower depths of Paris in the Belle Epoque with Dilili (Prunelle Charles-Ambron), a graceful young girl with eagle-eyed smarts as she investigates the mysterious plot of the Master Men. Together with Orel, a delivery boy who ferries her around the sweeping photorealistic and jewel-toned landscape, Dilili will stop at nothing until justice is restored. Our super sleuths journey through a turn-of-the-century world so evocative, you just might spot Picasso, Proust, or Marie Curie.
“The Sky Is Pink” – Directed by Shonali Bose; Written by Shonali Bose and Nilesh Maniyar
A recently deceased teenage daughter (Zaira Wasim) narrates the story of her mother (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and father’s (Farhan Akhtar) poignant, affecting, and inspiring romance, in this unexpectedly humorous love story from Shonali Bose, inspired by late Indian author Aisha Chaudhary and her family.
“A Bump Along the Way” – Directed by Shelly Love; Written by Tess McGowan (Opens in the UK)
“A Bump Along the Way” tells the story of fun-loving, 44-year-old single mom Pamela (Bronagh Gallagher) who becomes pregnant following a boozy one night-stand with a man half her age, much to the shame of her buttoned-up teenage daughter, Allegra (Lola Petticrew). As Pamela deals with her unexpected pregnancy and the growing pains of the disgruntled Allegra, the challenges they both face ultimately bring mother and daughter to a better understanding of themselves and each other.
“Gift” (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Robin McKenna (Opens in NY and LA)
Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s beloved classic “The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World,” “Gift” is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. An intimate exploration of real-life gift economies, it’s a reflection on the creative process and the reasons we labor in service of our gifts, and a celebration of the imagination.
“Suzi Q” (Documentary) (Opens in the UK)
Before Suzi Quatro burst on the music world in 1973, there were almost no women in rock, and absolutely none who played bass, and sang lead vocals, and led the band, and rocked out, and reached millions of people around the world, re-writing the rule book for the expected image of women in rock & roll. Singer, songwriter, bass player, bandleader, actress, radio-presenter, poet – there is only one Suzi Q, the pint-sized, leather-clad rocker who has sold more than 50 million records, and in 2019 released a new album, celebrating 53 years as a working musician.
“The Addams Family” – Written by Pamela Pettler and Matt Lieberman
Get ready to snap your fingers! The first family of Halloween, the Addams Family, is back on the big screen in the first animated comedy about the kookiest family on the block. Funny, outlandish, and completely iconic, the Addams Family redefines what it means to be a good neighbor.
“Tehran: City of Love” – Written by Maryam Najafi and Ali Jaberansari (Opens in the UK)
Three stories of love and yearning set in Tehran: Mina (Forough Ghajabagli) is a secretary in a beauty clinic; Hessam (Amir Hessam Bakhtiari) is a three-time winner of bodybuilding competitions; and Vahid (Mehdi Saki) is a funeral singer who has been dumped by his fiancée.
“High Strung Free Dance” – Written by Janeen Damian and Michael Damian
Zander Raines (Thomas Doherty), a dazzling young choreographer, gives the break of a lifetime to two hopeful artists when he casts a stunning contemporary dancer, Barlow (Juliet Doherty) and innovative pianist, Charlie (Harry Jarvis) in New York’s most-anticipated new Broadway show: “Free Dance.” But the move throws off the show’s delicate creative balance when Charlie falls hard for Barlow while Zander embraces her as his muse. The question is, how much are these talented artists willing to risk for love?
“Polaroid” – Written by Blair Butler (Also Available on VOD)
High school loner Bird Fitcher (Kathryn Prescott) has no idea what dark secrets are tied to the mysterious Polaroid vintage camera she stumbles upon, but it doesn’t take long to discover that those who have their picture taken meet a tragic end.
“Chez Jolie Coiffure” (Documentary) – Directed by Rosine Mbakam (Opens in NY)
“Chez Jolie Coiffure” is an observational “chamber piece” shot in a single tiny room, about life in a salon located in the African quarter of Brussels and managed by the charismatic Sabine, an undocumented émigré. “Chez Jolie Coiffure” is a highly revealing documentary, capturing the day-to-day lives and concerns of immigrant West African women in a space they can call their own.
“The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman” (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Rosine Mbakam (Opens in NY)
“The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman” documents the filmmaker’s return home, accompanied by her toddler son, to visit her mother after years abroad. This feature documentary debut captures the relationship between a woman and her mother — and subtly expresses the dislocation of emigration.
“Stuffed” (Documentary) – Directed by Erin Derham (Opens in NY)
“Stuffed” is a documentary feature film about the surprising and unique world of taxidermy. Through the eyes and hands of passionate renowned artists across the world, the film allows the audience to dip into and explore this diverse subculture, where sculptors must also be scientists. It is a genre of art, formed by a collection of people who have a fanaticism for nature, matched only by their desire to protect it. They love animals, and see life where others only see death. In an unexpected twist, “Stuffed” reveals the importance of preserving nature, using taxidermy as its unlikely vehicle, and the taxidermist as its wild driver.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” – Written by Linda Woolverton, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, and Noah Harpster
In this sequel to the 2014 global hit, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and Aurora (Elle Fanning) begin to question their complex family ties as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.
“Miss Virginia” – Written by Erin O’Connor (Also Available on VOD)
Based on a true story, “Miss Virginia” stars Uzo Aduba as an impoverished single mother who is losing her 15-year-old son to the rough streets of Washington, D.C. Unwilling to see him drop out and deal drugs, she places him in a private school. But when she can’t afford tuition, she launches a movement to change the system that is destroying him and thousands like him. Attacked and threatened by those who don’t want change — from corrupt politicians to the local drug lord — Virginia must discover depths of strength she never knew she had.
“Home” (Documentary) – Directed by Jen Randall (Opens in the UK)
Between 2011 and 2015, UK adventurer Sarah Outen traversed the globe. Sarah’s incredible four-year odyssey saw her travel for over 20,000 miles. As she migrated between cultures, climates, and landscapes under her own power, Sarah’s inspirational voyage was followed by thousands. Woven out of hundreds of hours of footage from the expedition, “Home” intimately and unflinchingly captures Sarah’s journey: the kindness of strangers, the wonders of the wild, the savagery of the elements, the near-death experiences, the demons of her emotional trauma and PTSD, and her discovery of love for a farmer called Lucy. “Home” is a story of heart and soul, of hardship and joy, and one woman’s trek towards true emotional acceptance.
“Greener Grass” – Written and Directed by Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe (Opens in NY and LA) (Also Available on VOD)
In a day-glo-colored, bizarro version of suburbia where adults wear braces on their already-straight teeth, everyone drives golf carts, and children magically turn into golden retrievers, soccer moms and best friends Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer) and Lisa (Dawn Luebbe) are locked in a passive aggressive battle-of-the-wills that takes a turn into the sinister when Lisa begins systematically taking over every aspect of Jill’s life — starting with her newborn daughter. Meanwhile, a psycho yoga teacher killer is on the loose, Jill’s husband (Beck Bennett) has developed a curious taste for pool water, and Lisa is pregnant with a soccer ball.
“The Cave” (Documentary)
In war-torn Syria, in a hidden underground field hospital, a female-led team of medical professionals and civilian caregivers works tirelessly to provide much-needed medical assistance to an embattled population. Showing this everyday courage in practice, “The Cave” follows Dr. Amani, a 30-year-old aspiring pediatrician. Her medical studies interrupted by war, she leads a team serving the needs of Al Ghouta’s populace, battered by the Syrian civil war’s aerial bombardments and chemical warfare.
“QT8: The First Eight” (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Tara Wood
Quentin Tarantino’s bloody, talky, nonlinear films pull together dozens of influences to form bracingly original cinematic events. In a Hollywood that worships at the altar of franchises and remakes, Tarantino’s films are the best kind of tentpoles — wholly unique cinematic visions from a filmmaker at the peak of his powers. As Tarantino’s newest film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” arrives to praise and controversy, filmmaker Tara Wood takes us on a journey through the first eight wildly divergent films that Tarantino has helmed, narrated by the actors and collaborators who have worked with him.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” (Opens in the UK; Opens in the U.S. November 1)
Twenty-seven years after the events of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” a new, modified liquid metal Terminator (Gabriel Luna) is sent from the future by Skynet in order to terminate Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), a hybrid cyborg human (Mackenzie Davis), and her friends. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) comes to their aid, as well as the original Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), for a fight for the future.
“Paradise Hills” – Directed by Alice Waddington (Available on VOD November 1)
On an isolated island, Uma (Emma Roberts) wakes up to find herself at Paradise Hills, a facility where high-class families send their daughters to become perfect versions of themselves. The facility is run by the mysterious Duchess (Milla Jovovich) where calibrated treatments including etiquette classes, vocal lessons, beauty treatments, gymnastics, and restricted diets resolve all physical and emotional shortcomings within two months. The outspoken Uma finds solace and friendship in other Paradise Hills residents — Chloe (Danielle McDonald), Yu (Awkwafina), and Mexican pop star Amarna (Eiza Gonzalez). Uma soon realizes that lurking behind all this beauty is a sinister secret. It’s a race against the clock as Uma and her friends try to escape Paradise Hills before it consumes them all.
“Black and Blue”
An action thriller about a rookie cop (Naomie Harris) who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Tyrese Gibson) as she tries to escape both the criminals out for revenge, and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage.
“A Good Woman Is Hard to Find” (Opens in the UK)
This crowd-pleasing and violent kitchen-sink revenge thriller is a dark and daring journey through Northern Ireland’s criminal underbelly. Recently widowed mother of two Sarah (Sarah Bolger) is desperate to know who murdered her husband in front of their young son, rendering him mute. Coerced into helping a low-life drug dealer, she’s forced to go beyond her humanity to protect her children and learn the truth.
“Connect” – Written and Directed by Marilyn Edmond (Opens in the UK)
“Connect” follows the story of Brian (Kevin Guthrie), a young man battling with his mental health. Outwardly, he keeps calm, goes to work, and carries on. He never feels that it’s possible to share his feelings, until care home owner Jeff (Stephen McCole) becomes a source of support. A flirtation with single mother Sam (Siobhan Reilly) could be a reason to choose life.
“Tales From the Lodge” – Written and Directed by Abigail Blackmore (Opens in the UK)
A group of middle-aged friends gather at a remote lodge to honor a friend who recently drowned in a nearby lake. With emotions running high, everyone makes the most of a gloomy situation by celebrating the best way they know how: swapping silly, scary stories that would have earned a giggle from their dearly departed pal. Urban legends about a masked slasher, a paranormal ghost hunt, and a post-apocalyptic wasteland soon lose their fun shock value as the sextet become stuck in a true terror tale that exposes dark secrets no one could have possibly foreseen.
When a young nurse (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die, it tells her she only has three days to live. With time ticking away and death closing in, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.
“The Gallows: Act II”
After Auna Rue (Ema Horvath), a teenage vlogger/aspiring actress, logs onto a sinister website, she’s soon trapped in the malevolent world of a cursed stage play, The Gallows. After performing a passage from the play for her tiny online fan base, Auna instantly achieves the stardom she seeks — as well as a twisted challenge from a deadly spirit in this nightmarish supernatural thriller.
“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” (Documentary) – Directed by Midge Costin; Written by Bobette Buster
“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” reveals the hidden power of sound in cinema — and our lives. Through film clips, interviews, and verité footage, the film captures the history, impact, and creative process of this overlooked art form through the insights and stories of legendary directors such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, David Lynch, Barbra Streisand, Ang Lee, Christopher Nolan, Sofia Coppola, and Ryan Coogler, and the sound men and women with whom they collaborate.
“The Rise of Jordan Peterson” (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Patricia Marcoccia (Also Available on VOD)
University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson skyrocketed to fame after he published a controversial viral video series entitled “Professor Against Political Correctness” in 2016. Within two years, he sold over three million copies of his self-help book, “12 Rules For Life,” and became simultaneously branded by some as an academic rockstar selling out theaters around the world, and by others as a dangerous threat to progressive society. “The Rise of Jordan Peterson” intimately traces the transformative period of Peterson’s life while visiting rare moments with his family, friends, and foes.