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BLACK MIRROR: SAN JUNIPERO & NOSEDIVE

Charlie BrookerUnited Kingdom / South Africa123 minutes201614AColourEnglish

We offer an advance look at the much-anticipated third season of Charlie Brooker's acclaimed UK anthology series, with two episodes' worth of eerie dystopian social satire and (very) dark humour.

The machines are all around us. This is the shocking reality portrayed in Charlie Brooker's series Black Mirror. Receiving great acclaim for its first two seasons of chilling stories about technology, the British show garnered a massive fan base across the pond. Now it returns on an international scale with a whole new set of terrors, and we're pleased to present two of these episodes at the Festival.

San Junipero follows the young and impressionable Yorkie (a tomboyish Mackenzie Davis) as she weaves her way through the streets of a late-'80s seaside town looking for excitement. Sparks fly in a dance club when she makes a connection with the alluring Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). But there is far more at stake in their encounter than a single night's pleasure.

In Nosedive, a determined woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) wants to lease an apartment in an exclusive complex. But as this is a world where every single interaction is rated, and overall rating determines social status, she is compelled to give a maid-of-honour speech at the wedding of an old friend (Alice Eve). In this biting social satire, penned by Rashida Jones and directed by Joe Wright (Hanna and Anna Karenina), a bad-luck trip to a rehearsal dinner plummets our protagonist into a devastating life change.

Brooker has created a Twilight Zone for our technological age. Working in close tandem with producer Annabel Jones, he presents us with a series of sometimes sweet, often nasty parables. Each episode is a self-contained story that unfolds with calculated precision, teaching us about its universe while emotionally connecting us to the fate of its characters. Fans of the first two seasons will recognize a familiar little sting, but these stand-alone episodes welcome first-timers as well. Plug in at your own risk.

MICHAEL LERMAN