Cutting edge technology has made it easier than ever to make a feature film. But it is still as hard as ever to make a really good one. The Pioneer strand is a showcase for filmmakers at the start of what promise to be glittering careers. Every film in this strand is a first or second-time feature from someone who possesses the power to make them stand out from the crowd. They all have that little something special. Just imagine what it must have been like to see a first film from Agnes Varda or Martin Scorsese and know you’d want to watch everything else they would ever make. Among the highlights in this year’s Pioneer you will find Carmel Winters’ knockout coming-of-age tale Float Like a Butterfly; Fugue, a suspenseful return from The Lure director Agnieszka Smoczyńska; actor turned director Hugh O’Conor’s delightful, irresistible charmer Metal Heart; and Ali Abbasi’s stunning, one-of-a-kind Border. The future is bright and it starts right here.

Films in this Festival Strand

Image for Another Day of Life (N/C 15+)
24-28 February

Another Day of Life (N/C 15+)

A striking docu-drama hybrid, matching live-action with animation

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Love Movie (N/C 15+)
1-2 March

Love Movie (N/C 15+)

An effortlessly cool, bizarre and original film. ​Writer/director Emma Rosa Simon and actor Lana Cooper will attend the screening on Fri 1 Mar.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Werewolf (N/C 15+)
22-23 February

Werewolf (N/C 15+)

Adrian Panek explores the traumatic effect of war on young children

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Thunder Road (N/C 15+)
24-25 February

Thunder Road (N/C 15+)

A darkly comic exploration of a cop on the verge of a nervous breakdown

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for The Song of the Tree (N/C 12+)
28 February - 1 March

The Song of the Tree (N/C 12+)

A captivating saga of love, honour, sacrifice and revenge.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for The Man Who Surprised Everyone (N/C 15+)
24 February

The Man Who Surprised Everyone (N/C 15+)

A modern adaptation of a Russian folk tale

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Styx (N/C 15+)
25-26 February

Styx (N/C 15+)

A punchy and thought-provoking thrill-ride

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Real Love (N/C 12+)
28 February - 1 March

Real Love (N/C 12+)

A perceptive, tenderly observed family drama.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Permission (N/C 12+)
25-26 February

Permission (N/C 12+)

A thought-provoking, high stakes drama that grabs at your emotions

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Pause (N/C 15+)
25 February

Pause (N/C 15+)

​Elpida is mad as hell and she’s not going to take it anymore.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for One Day (N/C 15+)
1-2 March

One Day (N/C 15+)

An intense, immersive debut feature

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Metal Heart (N/C 15+)
2-3 March

Metal Heart (N/C 15+)

The kind of cheering, warm-hearted teen comedy that would have made John Hughes proud. ​Director Hugh O'Conor will attend the screening on Sat 2 Mar.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Kia and Cosmos (N/C 12+)
28 February

Kia and Cosmos (N/C 12+)

A heartwarming tale of India’s first teenage girl detective.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Arctic (N/C 12+)
27-28 February

Arctic (N/C 12+)

Mads Mikkelsen stars in this slow-burning survival tale. Director Joe Penna will attend the screening on Wed 27 Feb.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Julia Blue (N/C 15+)
24-25 February

Julia Blue (N/C 15+)

Subtle and bittersweet war drama. ​Director Roxy Toporowych will attend the screening on Sun 24 Feb.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for José (N/C 15+)
27-28 February

José (N/C 15+)

A sensitive, tenderly felt portrait of desire and longing

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Fugue (N/C 15+)
27-28 February

Fugue (N/C 15+)

A moody psychological thriller that grips from the very first frame.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Float Like a Butterfly (N/C 15+)
2-3 March

Float Like a Butterfly (N/C 15+)

A lyrical heartbreaker of a film. Director Carmel Winters and actor Hazel Doupe will attend the screening on Sat 2 Mar.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Dear Son (N/C 15+)
24 February

Dear Son (N/C 15+)

A father’s love for his son is tested to the limit

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Complicity (N/C 12+)
28 February - 1 March

Complicity (N/C 12+)

A deeply moving feature debut from director Kei Chikaura.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Close Enemies (N/C 15+)
2-3 March

Close Enemies (N/C 15+)

A taut crime thriller from David Oelhoffen

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Chained for Life (N/C 15+)
26-27 February

Chained for Life (N/C 15+)

A spellbinding narrative about representation and exploitation. ​Actor Adam Pearson will be in attendance at the screening on Wed 27 Feb.

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Border (N/C 15+)
23 February

Border (N/C 15+)

One of the most bracingly original films of the past year

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Blind Spot (N/C 15+)
25-26 February

Blind Spot (N/C 15+)

An uncompromising, claustrophobic debut

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
Image for Woman at War (N/C 12+)
23-26 February

Woman at War (N/C 12+)

A playful, wonderfully quirky charmer

  • Part of a Festival Strand Pioneer
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