Taking her cue from the ancient Japanese fable (beautifully animated here) of the wounded crane, nursed back to health by a peasant, that seeks to show her gratitude through a gift, Linda Hoaglund’s (ANPO: Art X War) deeply felt portrait of the animal-rescue movement shows how our relationship to our fellow creatures is evolving and benefitting not just the rescued animals, but the rescuers as well.
Secreting us inside the storied Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Johannes Holzhausen’s unobtrusive documentary not only offers glimpses of works by Raphael, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Bruegel but also shares fascinating insights into the people and processes that ensure their preservation and continued cultural relevance. Thanks to Holzhausen, masterpieces are suddenly seen in a whole new light. “As all-enveloping and elegant as the establishment itself.”—Variety
Named after the coffee shop in which several key scenes are set, Hong Sangsoo’s latest centres on a Japanese man (Kase Ryu, Like Someone in Love) who fetches up in Seoul in search of a long-lost girlfriend. His amusingly awkward encounters with several other women and his landlady’s adult son make for Hong’s wittiest deconstruction of the rom-com in some time. Tony Rayns
Jason Lei Howden
In a world shrouded in darkness, a desperate man might risk everything to obtain light.
Best known as the drummer for Vancouver-based We Are the City, Andrew Huculiak makes his directorial debut with this beautiful, atmospheric film shot in Norway and inspired by the band’s latest album. It stars newcomer Dagny Backer Johnsen as a young woman who, after enduring a catastrophic event, loses herself in memories of the people who loved her most.
Fresh from Venice, Ann Hui’s masterly new film tells the life story of China’s greatest modern woman writer Xiao Hong, brilliantly played by Tang Wei. In the background, Japan’s invasion of China in the 1930s. In the foreground, a woman in love with a feckless man, negotiating the sexual and political rivalries of her day with honesty, clarity and beauty. Tony Rayns
Carlos A. Hurtado
An abused girl shares her story of trauma and despair—and how she learned to love herself again.
Does time flow horizontally or vertically? In wintry Moon Town, a small boy dreams of his father’s disappearance while flying. Or is this just an old man’s fantasy? Tony Rayns
So much can happen in a year. For instance, your mom can transition from female to male. Such is the case in Sophie Hyde’s provocative, authentic and refreshingly modern coming-of-age tale. Handled with care and restraint, “(this) accessible narrative experiment boasts breakout talent in front of and behind the camera.”—Variety. Winner, Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic, Sundance 2014.
Im Kwontaek’s 102nd film is no less compelling than any of his earlier masterworks. Ahn Songgi stars as a company director who knows better than to develop a crush on his new woman marketing manager—especially while caring for his dying wife. Elegantly shot, this is a wise and worldly film, all the more moving for its subtlety and emotional restraint. Tony Rayns
Back in the 1930s, in Vancouver’s old Japantown, a group of Canadian-born kids launched their own baseball team, the Asahi. Ishii’s lavish-scale entertainment chronicles their battles against failure, racism and prejudice—and the brief moment of triumph they enjoyed before Pearl Harbor changed everything. An epic tale, rich in humour and humanity. Tony Rayns
Yoon (Cha Seungwon) is the ultimate hard man, a battle-scarred cop who gets his man by any means necessary. But Yoon has a secret: she’s a woman trapped in a man’s body. Arch-satirist Jang Jin delivers all the thrills and ultraviolence we’ve come to expect from Korean cop/gangster movies, but with a very subversive twist. Tony Rayns
A daring formal experiment lies at the heart of this exploration of loss. Eugenie Jansen films her story—a young, half-Aboriginal girl copes with being transplanted from Australia to Belgium after her mother’s death—in 50 fps 3D and uses 360-degree pans to evoke time’s inexorable movement. The result is a boundary-pushing drama that is as affecting as it is bold in execution.
Love. Grief. Shock. Denial. Sleeplessness. Bubble bath. Masturbation. Pop Tart. Bootie. Rejection. Weeping. Awkward. Life’s a bitch.
Alex R. Johnson
A college dropout gets mixed up with a malicious con artist in Alex R. Johnson’s atmospheric Texas-set thriller. As it shifts perspectives and delivers shocks, it demonstrates dexterity fit for a barn dance and a sucker punch that would do any barroom brawler proud. “A cult following could be in the offing, and crime-movie aficionados will want to seek it out…”—Variety
When sentenced to home detention at her mother’s secluded abode, a twentysomething troublemaker (Morgana O’Reilly, spectacularly surly) suspects that there may be something housed within the walls more horrifying than her childhood photographs. "A marvelously entertaining combo of haunted-house thriller, murder mystery and domestic comedy… This near-flawless mix of laughs and scares is one of the genre-related highlights of the year."—Variety
A Lithuanian paramedic makes his own macabre fun (and some fast cash) by devising an office pool that allows his coworkers to bet on whether a patient will survive. As this dubious lark evolves into an Internet sensation, director Ignas Jonynas’ striking, inventive visuals plunge us into the morass enveloping our morally wounded anti-hero. Winner, Special Jury Prize, Warsaw 2013.