What to do when your single father sticks you with his date’s teenaged daughter at the amusement park? An evening full of suspicion, awkward relations and sexual tension.
Representative of the best new face of eco-tourism, Jessica Oreck’s (Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo) exquisite documentary examines the skilled humble lives and rugged routines of one enterprising Finnish family, celebrating the uncommon relationship they’ve forged with nature. "A work of ethereal beauty… utterly engrossing…"—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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Michael Lonsdale and Claudia Cardinale are superb in Manoel de Oliveira’s gorgeous period piece about the return of a prodigal son bent on destroying his family. "An exquisite yet anguished spectacle, a grand piece of cinematic chamber music for a cast of mighty soloists…"—New Yorker
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
UK, France, Germany, Afghanistan
Holding vigil at her husband’s side, a devoted Muslim (famous Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani) discovers unexpected empowerment. As she expresses her frustrations and desires, new possibilities present themselves in her war-torn city. Atiq Rahimi’s adaptation of his novel proves a "poetic and politically charged allegory."—Screen. Winner, Best Actress, Abu Dhabi 2012.
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.
Xavier Dolan (I Killed My Mother), one of Canada’s most provocative and boundary pushing filmmakers, dips his toes into the mainstream with this gripping psychological thriller. Dolan plays the grief-stricken Tom, who ventures into the bucolic Quebec countryside for his lover’s funeral, only to become a pawn in a savage, sadistic game perpetrated by members of the grieving family. Winner, FIPRESCI International Critics Award, Venice 2013.
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.
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
Corneliu Porumboiu follows up on Police, Adjective with this film within a film about a director whose affair with one of his supporting actresses threatens to cross over into—and change the shape of—the film he is making. A clever and intimate look at the easily crossed fine line between art and life.
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.
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.
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