Rialto Unbound Until Tuesday

Sky has unlocked the Rialto Channel until midnight Tuesday so non-subscribers can sample its fantastic selection of art house movies, foreign TV dramas and independent documentaries.

It’s predominantly film festival-fare leavened with some terrific British series that make the channel worth every cent of its $11.18 monthly subscription (case in point: Sunday’s box set of The Virtues).

I’ve only started subscribing to Rialto since it switched to HD and, along with SoHo, is now the channel I view most often.

Rialto is the kind of service Sky should be offering more of: niche content that can’t be easily accessed elsewhere rather than bland lifestyle channels or entertainment channels filled with broadcast re-runs and shows not good enough to make the cut for free-to-air.

Here’s a coming-soon sampler:

THE NIGHTINGALE (June 27, 8.30)

Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past. Winner of the Special Jury Prize (for director Jennifer Kent) at Venice Film Festival 2018. Starring Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin and Michael Sheasby.


August, 1945. A coachload of children arrive at the Calgarth Estate by Lake Windermere, England. They are child survivors of the Nazi Holocaust that has devastated Europe’s Jewish population. Carrying only the clothes they wear, and a few meagre possessions, they bear the emotional and physical scars of all they have suffered.  The Windermere Children is a remarkable true story about hope in the aftermath of the Holocaust, based on the powerful first-person testimony of survivors who began their new lives in the UK.  A stark, moving, and ultimately redemptive story of the bonds the children make with one another, and of how the friendships forged at Windermere will sustain them as they rebuild their lives.  Starring Thomas Kretschmann, Romola Garai and Iain Glen.


The ultimate homage to the impact Hong Kong filmmakers have had on moviemaking around the world – a celebration of the martial arts genre’s unexpected path to global domination.  As frenetic and fun as the genre it celebrates, the film takes a dynamic ride through martial arts movies, charting their evolution from the Shaw Brothers’ huge Hong Kong hits to the eye-popping abilities of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and eventually Hollywood. Serge Ou’s affectionate documentary is an entertaining package filled with thrilling clips, informative interviews and infectious enthusiasm, with the upbeat film destined to land a firm blow with fans of the genre.

PAVAROTTI (July 4, 8.30)

Luciano Pavarotti. The voice, the man, the legend. The award-winning team behind the hit documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week turns to another musical phenomenon with Pavarotti, an in-depth, no-holds-barred look at the life, career and legacy of the musical icon. Pavarotti was the rare combination of personality, genius, and celebrity, and he used his prodigious gifts to spread the gospel of opera as entertainment, gaining iconic status with The Three Tenors, alongside José Carreras and Plácido Domingo.  Pavarotti commanded the great stages of the world, and captured the hearts of audiences everywhere. He was a committed philanthropist, setting up Aids centres in several countries. Featuring rare interviews with family and colleagues and rare archival footage, this look at a remarkable man and musical giant is directed by Ron Howard.

BLOOD (July 5, 8.30)

In season two, Jim Hogan returns home one year later, stripped of his medical license and reputation, hoping to reconnect with his family. While his two daughters, Fiona and Cat, are prepared to let go of the past, his son Michael still blames his father for their mother’s demise. Events are soon about to tear them apart once again when Fiona’s car veers off the road and plunges into a lake.  Recuperating in hospital, the family fear she may have tried to take her own life and band together to keep her safe. But Detective Breen will soon shatter them all with news that a body was found in the boot of Fiona’s car. The body of her husband, Paul. Like any other family, blood isn’t the only thing tying them together – they all have secrets. Starring Adrian Dunbar, Carolina Main and Grainine Keenan.

THE LONG EXCUSE (July 6, 8.30)

Sachio Kinugasa is a popular writer, who is widowed after his wife dies in a bus accident. While they weren’t close, he struggles to show or feel grief.  In stark contrast to Yoichi Omiya, whose wife also died in the same bus accident, Yoichi is devastated.  The two men soon form an unlikely friendship and Sachio impulsively offers to take care of the grieving Yochi’s two children whilst he works. Directot Miwa Nishikawa wrote the film “in contemplation of the emotional aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake catastrophe.”Starring Masahiro Motoki, Pistol Takehara and Eri Fukatsu.


“The most powerful, loved, and hated film critic of her time”: Roger Ebert on Pauline Kael. In a field that had historically embraced few women film critics, Kael was charismatic, controversial, witty, and discerning. Her decades long berth at The New Yorker energised her fans (“Paulettes”) and infuriated her detractors on a weekly basis. Kael undisputedly transformed film into an art form in the eyes of the public. As a result of her writing, the pleasant weekend pastime of movie-going suddenly became a must-see, do-or-die, high-stakes experience. For Kael, watching films was a visceral adventure, she responded to them as if they were real events. The story is told largely through Kael’s own words, which are collected from interviews, private letters, and published writing. Sarah Jessica Parker voices Pauline.

THE MEN’S ROOM (July 10, 8.30)

Every Tuesday, 25 tattooed middle-aged men take a break from their everyday lives to meet, drink beer, tell bad jokes and sing rock songs. These are boys who just wanna have fun! Now, they have landed their biggest gig ever – to open for Black Sabbath. But when they learn that one of them has little time left to live, they waste no time to make every minute count.

SPIRITED AWAY (July 15, 8.30)

From Hayao Miyazaki, one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the history of animated cinema, comes the Academy Award winning masterpiece, Spirited Away. A wondrous fantasy about a young girl named Chihiro who discovers a secret world of strange spirits, creatures and sorcery. When her parents are mysteriously transformed into giant pigs, she must call upon all her courage to free herself and return her family to the outside world. Starring Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, and Mari Natsuki.  Winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, itbecame the most successful film in Japanese history, grossing over $347 million worldwide.

MIKE WALLACE IS HERE (July 16, 8.30)

Mike Wallace Is Here offers an unflinching look at the legendary reporter, who interrogated the 20th century’s biggest figures for over fifty years on air. His aggressive reporting style and showmanship redefined what America came to expect from broadcasters. Unearthing decades of never-before-seen footage from the 60 Minutes vault, the film explores what drove and plagued Wallace, whose storied career was entwined with the evolution of journalism itself.


Liverpool’s world-famous Cavern Club has been described as the “cradle of British pop music, the place where the Beatles musical identity was formed”. The club has played a pivotal role in each and every period of popular music since it first opened its doors as a jazz venue in 1957. Undoubtedly, without the 292 gigs The Beatles played there between 1961 and 1963, the Cavern’s story would be a very different one. But they did play those 292 gigs and the Cavern was firmly on the world’s musical map. This is the story of a club whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed in tandem with that of the city of Liverpool itself, a club that has embraced an ever changing music scene, the highs and lows, the dramas, the battles, the heartache, but above all – the music.

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