France, Israel, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg
Waltz with Bashir’s Ari Folman again pushes the boundaries of animation with this audacious reinvention of Stanislaw Lem’s The Futurological Congress. When Robin Wright (playing herself) consents to being digitally preserved, she’s inadvertently plunged into a dystopian "animation zone." A mind-bending "ode to the wonders of cinematic invention."—Indiewire
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.
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.
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
France, Belgium, Morocco
Just as bright young Sarah is learning to negotiate life in a Belgian Catholic orphanage she is wisked away to a remote Moroccan village. Director Kadija Leclere draws from her own abduction experiences to craft a remarkably immersive film. "Piercingly bittersweet… Beautifully low-key… [A] valiant first feature…"—Hollywood Reporter
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
Japan, France, Hong Kong
Wang Bing is one of the greatest documentary filmmakers working today: his new film explores the patients/inmates of a run down mental institution somewhere in China. Wang’s astonishingly observant camera reveals these patients’ inner beings, their loves and their sometime madness with absolute respect and limitless compassion.
“Films that truly surprise are the rarest of the rare… Marianne Pistone and Gilles Deroo have crafted a prose poem on the randomness of life itself, at first focusing on a young man working as a prep chef and then, quite suddenly, introducing a freak event that changes the course of the picture and steers it down unexpected paths…"—Variety Winner, Best First Film, Special Jury Prize, Filmmakers of the Present, Locarno 2013.
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).
A tour de force of unbridled intimacy and graphic sexuality, Abdellatif Kechiche’s acclaimed drama features superb performances from Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos as young women finding their love for each other. "A shattering masterpiece about sexual awakening, heartbreak and self-discovery…"—Atlantic. Winner, Palme d’Or (for film and lead actors), Cannes 2013.
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.
François Ozon’s controversial drama follows 17-year-old Isabelle (Marine Vacth), from a comfortable Parisian background, who chooses to become a high-class prostitute. Ozon’s refusal to judge coupled with Vacth’s amazing performance make for a disturbing and deeply affecting work.
Art-house titans (and mutual admirers) Ben Rivers and Ben Russell conspire on this uncompromising, three-part sensory experience that commences in a bucolic Estonian commune and culminates with a black metal concert. "[A] tapestry of beautifully rendered concepts [that’s] impressively committed to its poetic design… Rivers and Russell have certainly cast a spell that sticks."—Indiewire
Iran’s Asghar Farhadi (A Separation), now working in France, directs the brilliant Bérénice Bejo (The Artist), Tahar Rahim (A Prophet, Grand Central) and Ali Mosaffa in a tense domestic relationship triangle. "An intricate and often brilliant drama, with restrained and intelligent performances… Farhadi’s filmmaking is compelling."—Guardian. Winner, Best Actress, Cannes 2013.
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (A Screaming Man) follows the exploits of a disabled young man (Souleymane Démé) who still manages to wow them on the dance floor. When he gets involved with gangsters, however, the music stops… "A calm, lucid drama… the director’s compassion shines out, and so does the charisma of Souleymane Démé."—Guardian
"An enticing first fiction feature by accomplished Chilean documentarian Marcela Said. Set in what should be a vacation paradise, it charts the coming to consciousness of a teenage girl, who, in a single summer, has her first love affair and discovers another world—that of the Mapuche Indians, who are being displaced from their land by men like her wealthy, brutish, arrogant father…"—Film Comment
Peru, France, Mexico
Was it a stray bullet or botched assassination attempt that left Constantino mute? Fernando Bacilio delivers a towering performance as an obsessed magistrate exceeding the bounds of his powers to get answers. Diego and Daniel Vega’s deadpan crime procedural conjures Beckett with its distinct and compelling mix of atmosphere and plot. Winner, Best Actor, Locarno 2013.
India, France, Germany
When a lunchbox painstakingly prepared and intended for Ila’s (Nimrat Kaur) husband is mistakenly delivered to Saajan (the wonderful Irrfan Khan, Life of Pi), the under-appreciated Mumbai housewife and lonely accountant strike up an intimate correspondence, sharing their inner thoughts and life stories. Ritesh Batra’s soulful debut is "a wistful, elegant love story."—Screen
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, 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.