The Amazon, gorgeously photographed in all its splendour, is a major character in Giorgio Diritti’s (The Man Who Will Come) heartfelt, piercingly beautiful tale. After losing her unborn child, Augusta (Jasmine Trinca) flees Italy for Brazil to do aid work. Her spiritual and physical journey leaves her—and the audience—profoundly changed.
Reminiscent of Fellini at his most symphonic, Paolo Sorrentino’s (Il Divo) story of a high-flying journalist (Toni Servillo, superb) brought low by the death of his first love is both visually dazzling and emotionally rich. “Sorrentino’s magnificent return to form… A lush, classical tale of middle-age hedonism and lost love.”—Guardian
Isabelle Huppert and Toni Servillo (Il Divo) are superb in Italian master Marco Bellocchio’s caustic political critique and keenly observed social drama centring on the hot-button issue of euthanasia. A powerful and supremely intelligent work, showing Bellocchio at the peak of his powers.
France, Mexico, Germany, Netherlands
Cannes 2013’s Steven Spielberg-led jury awarded Best Director to Amat Escalante for this tale ripped from blood-soaked headlines. "New Wave Mexican style: raw, gritty, and force fed… A film about supporting others as you yourself are written out of the picture. A damning indictment of contemporary Mexico, capturing its institutionalised corruption, its endemic cruelty."—Guardian Winner, Best Director, Cannes 2013.
A wonderful film about listening, and about the value of great public institutions. Nicolas Philibert (To Be and To Have) turns his probing, sensitive camera on the inner workings of public broadcaster Radio France to enchanting, enlightening and frequently surprising effect. "A terrific documentary… humorous as well as continually insightful."—Variety
In this piercing masterpiece, Rithy Panh grapples with the horrors Cambodia faced under the Khmer Rouge. "A series of painstakingly crafted dioramas… at once extremely fragile and necessarily distanced… A dam constructed to control the flow of an ocean of sorrow."—Film Comment. Winner, Best Film, Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2013.
UK, USA, France, Mexico
Gliding with the grace of a boomerang, Juan Carlos Martín’s documentary circles back through artist Gabriel Orozco’s career, tracing how the Mexican modernist’s drawings, photographs and sculptures became so influential. And every time the camera returns to Orozco, we see an artist wrestling with precisely what a career retrospective signifies.
USA, Haiti, France, Belgium
Raoul Peck gets to the heart of the problem in this cogent and powerful look at why post-earthquake Haiti is worse off than ever. "Shines a damning light on the damage done by international aid agencies whose well-meaning but ignorant assumptions turned a nightmare into an unsolvable tragedy."—Variety
Tsai Ming-liang’s first feature in four years is a masterpiece: a blackly funny and unexpectedly warm comic tale of a father—Tsai’s usual brilliant actor Lee Kang-sheng—and two children adrift amongst the urban decay of Taipei. Part Buster Keaton, part rigorous art film, always enthralling.
The rules were: one day, one wheel, one shot (no editing). Valérie Massadian’s (Nana) hypnotic short was made for Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum.
Paris, at night. This is where Jeni, Wenceslas, Christine, Pascal and the others live. Homeless, they haunt the streets and bridges, and the corridors of the metro, on the edge of a world where society no longer offers protection. They face us and they talk… Claus Drexel’s luminously shot film contrasts the beauty of the city with the plight of the homeless to deeply moving effect.
The great Juliette Binoche gives a stirring performance as the sculptress and lover of Rodin who was unjustly confined to a benevolent asylum in Provence for 30 years. A gorgeously filmed and deeply disturbing portrait from iconoclastic master Bruno Dumont (L’humanité).
Luc Jacquet (March of the Penguins) and pioneering botanist and ecologist Francis Hallé fly us to the very top of the Amazon rainforest canopy and chronicle seven centuries in the life of this "green lung" of the world. A glorious celebration of trees and a call to arms for the protection of this wondrous tropical ecosystem.
Twenty retirees from Marseille, aged 60 to 87 and without any dance experience, spent seven years working with choreographer Thierry Thieû Niang on a performance of Stravisnky’s The Rite of Spring. It became a hit throughout France and Denis Sneguirev and Philippe Chevallier’s delightful film shows the culmination of this extraordinary journey.
Two of France’s hottest young stars, Léa Seydoux (Blue Is the Warmest Colour) and Tahar Rahim (A Prophet), play workers at a nuclear power station who fall in love in Rebecca Zlotowski’s powerful drama. Offers a rare and fascinating look inside the everyday workings of a nuclear power plant. "Engrossing, superbly acted."—Variety
The great Alain Resnais brings together a fantastic cast—Piccoli, Azéma, Arditi, Amalric and others—for a roundelay of theatre and passion in a country house. "Digital technology meets lyrical drama… in this puckishly daring, intricately original work."—New Yorker. Dedicated to the memory of film critic, professor and VIFF friend Mark Harris.
France, Belgium, Estonia
Jeanne Moreau gives another in a lifetime’s worth of great performances as Frida, an Estonian woman long settled in Paris who must accept a fellow Estonian caregiver (Laine Mägi) into her upscale home. Ilmar Raag’s moving observational tale is "a story of gradual transformation, slight, graceful and incidental."—Sydney Morning Herald
Italy, France, Germay, Germany, Portugal
In the first of these brilliant films from Portugal, Miguel Gomes’ (Tabu) found-footage collage examines human fallibility in its many forms. + The King’s Body (30 min.) Taking into account the first Portuguese king’s myth-like status, João Pedro Rodrigues’ ruminates on just what the body of Dom Afonso Henriques might have looked like…+ Mahjong (33 min.): João Rui Guerra da Mata and João Pedro Rodrigues enact a mysterious mahjong-like game between East and West, a man and a missing woman…
France, Turkey, Germany
Araf means purgatory and that’s where the longings of the spirit and body will take young Zehra. With stunningly directed scenes using seductive music and striking winter vistas, Yeşim Ustaoğlu’s potently soulful drama "creates resonant images that blend countryside, village and landscape into rich visual emotions…"—Hollywood Reporter. Winner, Best Film, Abu Dhabi 2012.
Spain, France, Romania
Albert Serra’s (Honor de Cavelleria) dreamy period piece finds an aging Giacomo Casanova (Vicenç Altaió) coming face to face with the new age, as embodied in the form of Dracula… “Serra’s most accessible work… Casanova is a vivid character rich with metaphor… [Serra] turns the characters into symbols of history in flux.”—Indiewire. Winner, Golden Leopard, Locarno 2013.