Film Festival Series
Cinema of Our Time
A spectacular showcase of narrative films from around the globe, featuring both today's masters and tomorrow's visionaries.
With a selection of works from more than 30 countries—including of all the major film producing nations—Cinema of Our Time is the place to see the very best films from the leading auteurs of our time, award winners from the most prestigious film festivals such as Cannes and Berlin, and exclusive premieres of some of the most highly anticipated features that will hit cinemas next year.
Films in this Series
October 31, 1984. The day Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh guards and the anti-Sikh riots that followed are etched in India’s collective memory. Shivaji Lotan Patil has fashioned a compassionate thriller about one Sikh family, trapped in their Delhi home, and the lengths they and their Hindu friends go to in order to help the parents and two children survive. Bollywood stars Vir Das and Soha Ali Khan as husband and wife play brilliantly against type.
Two towering performances by screen icons Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay make Andrew Haigh’s slow-burn drama a must-see. A week before their 45th wedding anniversary, the Mercers’ genteel life in the English countryside is threatened when Geoff receives a letter saying that the body of his long-dead first love has been recovered—perfectly preserved—in the Swiss Alps… "Composed with rigour and exactitude and performed with a repressed, heartfelt passion."—Guardian
Gripping and gritty, Gabriel Ripstein’s assured debut is a nimble, intense thriller that delves into cross-border crime. Arnulfo has a tidy little racket going—legally purchasing Arizona firearms and flipping them to Mexican cartels—until he’s targeted by an ATF agent (Tim Roth). Bad luck and even worse decisions conspire to set these two men on a treacherous journey that neither expected and both are wholly unprepared for. “A lean, careful, clever tale…”—Indiewire
The absurd, darkly humorous side of war has always been a subject for adventurous filmmakers. Fernando León de Aranoa joins the ranks with this scabrous look at aid workers beset by red tape during the aftermath of the 1990s war in the Balkans. A dead body has been thrown down a well and will soon start poisoning the water supply. It’s up to Benicio del Toro, Tim Robbins, Olga Kurylenko and crew to get it out. Simple, yes? Not really… "A pitch-black war comedy."—Telegraph
Confusion is often synonymous with adolescence, but Serginho (Matheus Fagundes) bears more of it than any person should have to. Chico Teixeira (Alice’s House) returns with a drama about the search for meaning and connection that enthralls with its haunting intimacy. Skin, sweat, water and heat become symbols. The performances are superb, with Fagundes the very image of vulnerability in the lead role. Sad but hopeful, quiet but intense, this is a film you can really feel.
When a baby died on her watch and investigators uncovered some circumstantially damning details, nurse Lucia de Berk (a cool, distanced Ariane Schluter) was labelled a serial killer and put on trial for murder—despite being innocent. Paula van der Oest’s terrific combination of investigative mystery and courtroom drama is intelligent and entertaining by turns. "[This] Oscar-shortlisted Dutch thriller retells a chilling true story with David Fincher-like intrigue."—Variety
In Simon Rouby’s evocative animated feature, a 12-year-old West African boy tracks his older brother’s journey from village to port, to troop carrier and on to the war-torn fields of France, 1914. Despite the chaos, he clings to the hope that his brother can be returned home safely. Reminiscent of War Horse in its knack for conjuring fresh perspectives on well-trodden ground, this gorgeous fable will appeal to teens and pre-teens, as well as their parents and grandparents.
The title translates as "Bravo!" and director Radu Jude (Everybody in Our Family) means it in the most darkly ironic way possible here. In early 19th-century Wallachia, a burly constable and his son track an escaped Roma slave; in the process Jude draws on the tropes of the Western to fashion a gorgeously shot drama rife with meanings for today. "An exceptional, deeply intelligent gaze into a key historical period, done with wit as well as anger."—Variety
In Johannesburg, 21-year-old Afro-hipster Ayanda (the captivating Fulu Moguvhani) fights to keep alive her late father’s legacy—his car-repair garage. How? Add some style! Sara Blecher’s (Otelo Burning) multicultural, colourful and vibrant drama captures the "Afropolitan" nature of the new South Africa. "Absolutely worth seeing for its representation of a modern African story, which is uniquely, distinctively African, but also urban, fresh, and contemporary…"—Indiewire
Shifting between a prosecutor for whom death is mundane, his bulimic daughter who’s fading away and the girl’s therapist who’s also a spiritual medium, Malgorzata Szumowska’s deadpan dramedy is impeccably acted and unexpectedly humorous, offering wry insights into how we see ourselves and what might await us after this life. “Bold, wise, and incredibly funny… A poignant tale about the confrontation of faith with skepticism, hope with despair, and love with hate.”—culture.pl
Ten years ago, Mark Dornford-May and the Isango Ensemble burst upon the scene with Berlin Golden Bear-winner U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, their stirring adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen. Drawing once again from an operatic source—Puccini’s La bohème—Dornford-May and team bring the Xhosa language, exceptional singing voices and traditional instrumentation to a Cape Town-set tragedy focusing on the doomed love of university student Lungelo (Mhlekazi Mosiea) for the tuberculosis-stricken Mimi (Busisiwe Ngejane).
The long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s Attenberg, Athina Rachel Tsangari’s new comedic drama has her skewed sensibility and mordant wit pointed at the male psyche and its absurd penchant for competition. Six male acquaintances—they certainly aren’t friends—find themselves on a luxury yacht, where they engage in an escalating series of challenges that threatens to turn nasty… "A committedly deadpan comedy of manners, morals and men behaving weirdly…"—Variety
Tim Roth delivers an understated performance as a hospice nurse whose selfless devotion to the terminally ill sometimes distorts into more inscrutable behaviour in Michel Franco’s deft character study. Recalling Michael Haneke’s Amour in its unsentimental depiction of life’s closing chapters, this mesmerizing psychological drama also examines the heavy toll exacted on this caregiver who’s at ease with impending death but at a loss with life. “A captivating work.”—Screen
An immersive experience that casts a hypnotic spell, Mauro Herce’s sui generis drama can be read as an allegory for late capitalism or taken at face value as a haunting look at the freighter Fair Lady and its Filipino crew on a mission that only comes to light when a natural disaster occurs. Awash in reds and greens, the film gives off an otherworldly glow—we could just as easily be ensconced in a spaceship on a science-fiction journey… Transfixing.
A leader of the Egyptian independent film scene, Ahmad Abdalla (Microphone) gets a much bigger budget than usual to fashion this lustrous black-and-white homage to classical Egyptian cinema. Female production designer Maha (Horeya Farghaly) finds reality shifting when, instead of working on her current melodrama, she begins to live it… "Shades of Sirk, Cassavetes, Bergman and even Woody Allen can all be detected on the film’s glistening monochrome surface."—Variety
In Ciro Guerra’s vibrant and wildly original feature, two explorers embark on parallel journeys—albeit 40 years apart—down the Colombian Amazon. Both are in search of a sacred flower with mythical healing powers. Both encounter a native shaman and his tales of colonialism’s devastating toll. As unlikely friendships take root, Ciro Guerra’s drama enwraps viewers in seductive visuals and alluring ethnographic details. “A soulful, strange and stunning discovery.”—Indiewire
In Rick Alverson’s latest surreal, post-Dadaist comedy, a glum stand-up (Gregg Turkington) wanders the Mojave Desert, bound for his estranged daughter but seemingly condemned to repeat the same hellish performance. Melding pungent melancholy and intoxicating psychedelia, this marks a brave and frequently brilliant offering from one of American cinema’s most independent thinkers. “It’s what new films ought to strive for: to strike back against the familiar.”—Village Voice
Delving into the psychological manipulation and shock therapy of Yale’s infamous “obedience experiments” of the 60s, Michael Almereyda unleashes daring cinema that demands to be seen. As pioneer/puppet master Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) pushes subjects past their breaking point, he also shatters the fourth wall, offering haunting glimpses into the mind of a man who’d be branded a monster. "A conceptually exciting, intellectually searching portrait…"—New York Times
June 1940: German troops march into Paris. Jacques Jaujard (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) and Count Franziskus Wolff Metternich (Benjamin Utzerat) work to protect the treasures of the Louvre Museum… This is just the jumping-off point for Russian master Alexander Sokurov’s (Russian Ark) gorgeously shot (by Amélie’s Bruno Delbonnel) exploration of the relationship between art, culture and power that traverses the centuries and demands to know what art tells us about ourselves.
Already orphaned, four young Buddhist monks must again fend for themselves when their head abbot is called away. As otherworldly phenomena manifest within the isolated monastery, Witazara (Shine Htet Zaw) is nominated to investigate. In turn, Brian Perkins’ drama—the first feature shot in newly opened Myanmar—melds spirituality and cinema to poetic effect, opening our eyes to new worlds. "Impressively disciplined… the film’s shimmering imagery never palls…”—Variety
Italian master Ermanno Olmi (Il Posto, The Legend of the Holy Drinker) is the son of a WWI veteran, which may be why his powerful, exquisitely photographed and directed anti-war statement, made to commemorate the centenary of the conflagration, shows such intimate acquaintance with the travails of a group of Italian soldiers facing a suicide mission in the snowy Alps… "A poignant memorial… made with devastating simplicity and painful realism."—Hollywood Reporter
A bored housewife becomes a desperate one in Andrés Clariond Rangel’s sly slow-burn thriller. Dead of spirit after decades of upper-class leisure, Susana (Verónica Langer) finds her long-dormant passion rekindled by the arrival of a young new maid, Hilda (Adriana Paz). As her interest in the girl turns to obsession, an identity crisis gives way to more volatile behaviour. Rangel ensures that Susana’s shift from generosity to tyranny is chilling—and thrilling—to watch.
Appealing and affecting, Home Care is a humanist tale that puts a poignant spin on that perennial staple of Czech cinema, the village dramedy. When a selfless home-care nurse (Alena Mihulová) suddenly requires care herself, she, her family and patients must redefine their roles and relationships. Written and performed to perfection, Slávek Horák’s tragicomic film captures the details of small-town life through piquant observation. “Wryly humorous and bittersweet…”—Variety
In 2009, the story of Yemeni teenager Nojoom Ali’s bid to legally extricate herself from an abusive, arranged marriage to a much older man made headlines. Khadija Al-Salami has beautifully adapted the subsequent bestseller into an emphatic drama featuring a wonderful performance from Reham Mohammed as the young Ali and a striking backdrop of Yemen’s astonishing mountain villages and ancient “skyscrapers.” "A powerful, moving and provocative debut drama…"—Screen
Middle-class Miguel (Diego Calva) and barrio-dweller Johnny (Eduardo Martínez) are young lovers who finance their skateboarding lifestyles by selling their blood—and the blood of others—to underground clinics in Mexico City. One day they take on a delivery for some gangsters and things go wrong… Meshing a romance, an ultra-realistic depiction of the skate scene and some noirish tropes, Julio Hernández Cordón’s beautifully shot drama takes young love to the limit…
Afflicted by an aggressive motor neuron disease, Niels opts to die with dignity and asks his nurse, Maria, to escort him to a Swiss clinic. As they make the trek, Samanou Acheche Sahlstrøm crafts a bold drama that’s profoundly moving without ever feeling manipulative. There’s emotional ugliness lying in wait but it’s ultimately rendered beautiful by its honest insights. An undeniably important film, this is a “provocative query into what makes life worth living.”—Variety
Recalling Before Sunrise’s sparkling chemistry, Emily Ting’s impeccably scripted romance is positively effervescent and wonderfully alive. After crossing paths in clamouring Hong Kong, Josh (Bryan Greenberg) and Ruby (Jamie Chung) set off through the vibrant metropolis, drifting down detours and embarking on countless conversational digressions. Given that we fall for this pair instantly, there’s exquisite tension in watching as circumstances conspire to keep them apart.
When the owners of a cargo company go bankrupt, six seaman are forced to spend months alone on a stranded ship off the coast of Egypt while the legal issues are sorted out. Trying desperately—and failing miserably—to maintain a sense of normality in the face of increasingly strange goings-on, the crew unravels… Tolga Karaçelik’s psychological thriller is both a tense, atmospheric huis clos and an hallucinatory allegory that will haunt your waking dreams.
At the foot of a Guatemalan volcano, 17-year-old Maria (a transfixing María Mercedes Coroy) and her parents scratch out a living by working on a coffee plantation. Promised to the plantation’s overseer, Maria, instead, falls for a youth her own age… First-time director Jayro Bustamente has fashioned "a transporting, hypnotically beautiful debut feature… downright Herzogian… in its surfeit of physical detail, observed ritual and looming clash of civilizations."—Variety
Despite the ban against him, Iranian master Jafar Panahi continues to find ingenious ways to make films. Here, taxi driver Panahi cruises Tehran, picking up family, friends, film colleagues and nonprofessionals, all of whom take on roles. The result is "a beautifully humane fable… a good-humoured jeu d’esprit, a piece of freewheeling cinephile activism… It’s a rueful but insistent statement to the effect that he is down but not out…"—Guardian
When his widowed mother (Cynthia Nixon) is diagnosed with cancer, James (Girls’ Christopher Abbott) is forced to pull himself out of a self-destructive nosedive. His newfound equilibrium is fragile at best, leaving both his resolve and their relationship teetering at a precipice. Alternating between cacophonous scenes of New York and exquisitely quiet domestic drama, Josh Mond crafts “a story that showcases subtlety and technique on both sides of the camera.”—Guardian
In 2006, a serial killer cut a bloody swath through Ipswich’s red light district. Rufus Norris’ gripping adaptation of Alecky Bythe’s radical stage show draws its script from actual interviews with area residents, police, media and sex workers, and sets them to an enthralling score. What unfolds is a remarkable true story of ordinary people coming together during the darkest of experiences. “An utterly gripping, macabre but finally very moving cine-opera…”—Guardian
Pasolini’s "cinema of poetry" as refracted through the lens of Italian neo-realism, Pietro Marcello’s modern fairytale embodies myth and modernity in equal measure. The demi-god Pulcinella arrives in the Compania region to attend to the final wish of shepherd Tommaso: to save a young (talking) buffalo by the name of Sarchiapone. As Pulcinella and Sarchiapone wander the countryside in search of a new home for the latter, Italy and all its contradictions come alive…
Bringing to mind Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist and Peter Jackson’s Forgotten Silver, Massimo Ali Mohammad’s charming mockumentary concerns the "miraculous" discovery and restoration of a long-lost WWI silent film melodrama made by the "Lumini brothers." After the scholars wax eloquent and the restorers perform their magic, we are treated to the 45-minute film—a doomed romance set in 1915—in toto… "A deeply sincere exercise in movie-nerd fantasy…"—Hollywood Reporter
In Muayad Alayan’s comedy-thriller, a Palestinian petty thief steals a car in order to fund an escape to Italy. Instead, an awful surprise stowed in the trunk draws the interest of Palestinian terrorists and Israeli intelligence, and thrusts him into a deadly dilemma. Shot in sleek black and white, mixing menace and humour, and playfully fusing realism and genre trappings, this is a film that recalls the French New Wave while remaining of-the-moment in terms of its politics.
William Faulkner’s adage, "The past is never dead. It’s not even past" is again proved true in actor-turned-director Salvador del Solar’s tense drama. A former soldier in the Peruvian army who now drives a taxi in Lima, Magallanes (Mexican star Damián Alcázar) has his world turned upside down when Celina (The Milk of Sorrow’s Magaly Solier), a woman from his violent past, gets into his cab and asks for his help. Can Magallanes find redemption and help Celina in the bargain?
In an absorbing mystery that recalls True Detective, disparate homicide investigators must solve a series of grisly murders in a remote, rotten-to-the-core community. Employing southern Spain’s harsh landscapes to sublime atmospheric effect, Alberto Rodríguez plunges us into a world in which menace takes myriad forms. Winner of 10 Goyas, including Best Film, Best Screenplay & Best Actor. “A brilliant, compelling edge-of-your-seat detective thriller infused with a spirit of uncanny gothic redolent of David Lynch and David Fincher.”—Sight & Sound
A disagreement leads two farmer-brothers to separate—one stays on the family plot, the other goes into battle on the Union side in the Civil War. Zachary Treitz’s remarkable debut traces the fortunes of both with a raw physicality and inspired simplicity rare in one so young. "Treitz persuasively and passionately re-creates a grand panorama on an intimate scale and a spare budget… He has made an instant-classic Western."—New Yorker
Narrated by the youngest of five orphaned sisters living in a small community "1,000 miles from Istanbul," Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s spirited and moving debut—part story of female empowerment and part critique of outdated Turkish mores—tells of the fallout when the sisters’ harmless horseplay on the beach with a group of boys is misinterpreted as some form of sexual adventurism… "A gripping film… The Virgin Suicides in Anatolia is a sweet, sad Turkish delight."—Guardian
A precocious tween on the cusp of sexual maturity (Rebecka Josephson, granddaughter of Bergman regular Erland Josephson) is forced to make some hard decisions when her gorgeous older sister (Amy Deasismont, aka pop star Amy Diamond) accidentally reveals that she has a serious eating disorder… "Swedish writer-director Sanna Lenken’s debut feature breathes warmth and humor into a potentially dry topic thanks largely to its terrific young cast."—Hollywood Reporter
Having fallen in love again after her divorce, Nahid (Sareh Bayat) finds many obstacles lying in wait should she choose to follow her heart. Not only would remarriage mean surrendering custody of her son, it would also entail forsaking the semblance of independence she’s fought so hard to establish. Ida Panahandeh’s deeply humane melodrama recalls Oscar-winner A Separation in its compassionate and compelling depiction of contemporary Iran’s legal and social constraints.
Having cajoled a friend (Kristen Wiig) into carrying their baby, a Brooklyn artist (director Sebastián Silva) discovers that his sperm count isn’t up to snuff and taps his unenthused partner (Tunde Adebimpe). His disastrous video installation and increasingly unstable neighbour ensure that chaos reigns in Silva’s incisive, merciless satire. "A startling drama of extreme moral ambiguity… [and] a vibrant, thoughtful piece about modern life…"—Hollywood Reporter
Radu Muntean’s thriller creates a sustained level of suspense with skilful restraint, establishing a moral dilemma for both viewer and protagonist to wrestle with. Sandu believes he’s overheard a violent crime perpetrated by a neighbour but refuses to divulge any details to the police. As we attempt to decipher Sandu’s motivations, maladies endemic to modern Romanian society are revealed. “A poignant meditation on responsibility, guilt and community…”—Hollywood Reporter
A fascinating and effective mix of documentary and fiction techniques, shot "guerrilla style" (without permission) on the streets of Tehran, Sina Ataeian Dena’s feminist drama focuses on 25-year-old unmarried teacher Hanieh (newcomer Dorna Dibaj) as she doggedly pursues a promotion while facing casual sexism at every turn. "A sensitive, topical debut [that is] quietly affecting… The ’candid camera’ approach adds a welcome edge of verisimilitude…"—Hollywood Reporter
Altruistically abandoning her promising law career in order to teach the impoverished, socially conscious Paulina (Dolores Fonzi) finds herself horribly out of her depth in an Argentinean backwater. In the wake of a sexual assault, her convictions are tested and Santiago Mitre’s provocative drama is elevated into a complex examination of the emotional ramifications for victim, perpetrators and those who stood idly by. “Fonzi is riveting in a demanding role…”—Hollywood Reporter
In 1987, three young Soviets would do anything that their motherland asked. Now in their 30s, they’re adrift in a Russia that has no real need of them. Natalya Kudryashova’s wistful debut shuns grand allegory in favour of an intimate scale that focuses on character (but still allows for some ravishingly cinematic passages). Cutting between time periods and counterpointing defiance with disillusionment, it generates a compelling tension that builds to a staggering climax.
One of the most astonishingly exotic films in this year’s festival has to be Khosrow Sinai’s drama. The title refers to the island of Hormuz, with its extraordinary multicoloured soils, ancient Portuguese forts and folk-art traditions. How much are the custom-bound villagers willing to welcome the outside world? Enter Dr. Ahmad Nadalian, a highly educated interloper from Tehran who proposes a radical plan to transform the islands assets into a thriving cultural destination.
In this enchanting Icelandic export, two estranged, unmarried brothers are reunited after 40 years when an infectious disease threatens to decimate their prized flocks of sheep. As they face financial ruin and emotional devastation (their love for these animals is endearingly evident), Grímur Hákonarson fashions a richly detailed tragicomedy concerning idiosyncratic vocations and immediately relatable sibling dynamics. “Wonderfully wry, charmingly understated…”—Variety
As darkly surreal and deadpan droll as ever, Alex van Warmerdam’s follow-up to Borgman is a different beast entirely. Memorably set around a lakeside cabin, it’s a clever comedic thriller in which the titular heroes (the druggy Bax is played by van Warmerdam; the family man Schneider by Tom Dewispelaere) are hit-men charged with taking each other out… "[In this] wicked little outing… the more absurd the circumstances, the more entertaining the movie gets."—Variety
There comes a time in every young man’s life when he has to… Well, come of age. This is certainly the pressing prime directive for Edoardo (Matteo Creatini) but his insecurities—and discomfort—are compounded by phimosis. While Duccio Chiarini’s poignant sex dramedy is never gratuitous, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for an uproarious scene of Edoardo attempting intimacy with an octopus. "Intimate and explicit without becoming exploitative."—Hollywood Reporter
A conglomerate moves into our hapless hero Rob’s (Robert Malone) small town and asks for human guinea pigs in order to further its "organic synthesis research… to aid the brothers and sisters overseas." Naturally, Rob and his buddy volunteer, setting in motion the oddest chain of events you’re likely to see in a movie this year. Zach Weintraub’s latest is "hilariously strange… Yet another example of an outlaw attitude that’s alive and well in American movies."—Indiewire
Interned in Auschwitz, Saul (Géza Röhrig) is tasked with the unthinkable: aiding his Nazi captors in their methodical massacre. Pushed past his breaking point, he nobly claims one of the fallen as his own son and vows to restore the boy’s dignity with a proper burial… Unfolding with passion and purpose that rival its protagonist’s, László Nemes’ Holocaust drama is both an involving moral quest and a staggering, immersive experience. “A bombshell debut…”—Film Comment
"Chloé Zhao’s plaintive first feature is a heartfelt dramatized contemplation of life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, experienced partly through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl… [The] project clearly was made with profound respect for its subjects, from families ravaged by alcoholism to daredevil young bull-riders to those who cling through tough times to their belief in community."—Hollywood Reporter
An Iceland fishing village with roads slick with blood and booze is no place for a choirboy. Ari (Atli Óskar Fjalarsson) learns that the hard way in Rúnar Rúnarsson’s bare-knuckle drama. Set during a summer of perpetual daylight, the film shows how malaise can fester in an economically depressed community in which hope is the rarest commodity. Given the increasingly shocking circumstances conspiring against him, Ari’s bid to assert himself becomes all the more compelling.
Conceived as an homage to the classic Bicycle Thieves, Donald Mugisha and James Tayler’s unsparing look at life on the streets of Kampala—neorealism "with a youthful edge" in their words—is anchored in the story of Abel, 15, who takes over his father’s motorcycle taxi (the "boda boda" of the title) and is immediately confronted by a corrupt world where a wrong turn, vehicular or otherwise, can have drastic consequences. "Poignant as well as entertaining."—Indiewire
The titular “club” in Pablo Larraín’s incendiary follow up to No is a group of disgraced priests who’ve been banished to a purgatorial halfway home on the Chilean coast. When the church investigates a tragic incident involving these men, the findings lay to waste any notions of a good/evil binary. Likewise, Larraín proves that comedy and condemnation needn’t be mutually exclusive. “The film’s compassion is strongly felt, its mordant humour glinting like a blade.”—Guardian
The first film from acclaimed theatre director Simon Stone brings together some of Australia’s finest actors in a contemporary reworking of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck. The mill is closing, but for its owner, Henry (Geoffrey Rush), this also a time of hope: his estranged son Christian (Paul Schneider) has returned to serve as his best man. Those hopes turn to ashes when Christian reconnects with his old friend Oliver (Ewen Leslie) and stumbles across long-buried family secrets…
When grainy surveillance video appears to capture a heinous crime committed by their teenage kids, two couples hold a summit at an upscale restaurant and debate what to do next. Based on Herman Koch’s international bestseller—hailed as “chilling, nasty, smart, shocking and unputdownable” by Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn—Ivano De Matteo’s exquisitely crafted, ravishingly cinematic psychological thriller makes exceptional use of an exemplary cast and upends our expectations at every turn.
Imbued with the sensual, dreamy, mysterious air of adolescent longing and becoming, Carol Morley’s first dramatic feature is set in an all-girls school in late 60s Britain. A sudden death sparks a series of unsettling incidents that shake both the student body and faculty: is it a virus, mass hysteria or mischief-making? Featuring a spectacular turn from Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, this tantalizing, enigmatic film suggests some clues but leaves much to the imagination.
The pressures of courtship are pushed to absurdist extremes in this outrageous comedy from Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth). Confined to an isolated resort, singles (including Colin Farrell) must take a mate within 45 days or be transformed into animals. As Farrell falls in with a band of rebel loners (who count Rachel Weisz among their members), Lanthimos wrings much pathos from his outlandish premise. “A wickedly funny, unexpectedly moving satire… Perversely romantic…”—Variety
Anca Damian’s ambitious mixed-media animated docudrama is a work of overwhelming artistry. Presented as a dialogue between Adam Jacek Winkler—a Quixote-like Pole who fought with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets—and his daughter (who co-wrote the film with Damian), it evokes the powerful personality of an uncompromising individualist and true romantic who lived outside the law due to his love of independence. “Beautifully assembled…”—Hollywood Reporter
A long lost African mask is returned to its native Mali, while its keeper (Bakary Sangaré, from Samba Traoré) becomes a kind of ferryman from the world of the West into African civilization. Constructed as an ethnological road movie that progresses into a zone where magic and reality alternate, Jacques Sarasin’s compelling mystery pins the viewer’s attention from the outset and provides detailed insights into the lives and spirituality of everyday Malians.
Shot in luminous black and white and set in the desert-like Pampas during the early 19th century, Benjamin Naishtat’s eerie combination of post-apocalyptic sci-fi and post-modern Western posits a land fallen into anarchy and populated by armed groups vying for supremacy… "Gorgeously shot and edited with edgy intensity… Like Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja, Naishtat’s haunting sophomore feature provides a poetic access point for grappling with Argentinean identity."—Indiewire
Once the most ambitious undertaking in Cuban history, the Juragua nuclear reactor now sits abandoned. In its shadow is Nuclear City, where the plant’s would-be employees are left to contemplate the glory that might’ve been. Fuelled by the disappointments of three generations of disillusioned denizens, Carlos Quintela’s beautifully lensed but unflinchingly dark comedy intersperses archival footage and blends surrealism and social realism to depict a country locked in stasis.
Anna Muylart has crafted one of the year’s biggest crowd pleasers! A cheerful São Paulo housekeeper (the wonderful Regina Case) finds her life—and the lives of the high class family she cares for—comically turned upside down when her estranged daughter (Camila Mardila) shows up and unleashes a welter of issues relating to class difference, infatuation, motherhood and privilege. "Beautifully written and acted with precision, this film’s a winner."—Hollywood Reporter
Ben Rivers often draws upon that most under-appreciated genre—the film about filmmaking—in his work. His latest is a daring depiction of two mirrored fictional worlds: one in the Atlas mountains, where a new film by Galician director Oliver Laxe is being made; the other incorporating Laxe’s experience into a filmic consideration of Paul Bowles’ short story, "A Distant Episode." The result, both exciting and transgressive, provides ample rewards for patient viewers.
A flight of fancy from Alanté Kavaïté, this dreamy, coming-of-age story focuses on 17-year-old Sangailé (Julija Steponaitytė), a young woman with a fascination for flying and a contradictory fear of the same. Until, that is, she meets the fearless Auste (Aistė Diržiūtė) and the two young women fall in love… Punctuated by a charmingly aestheticized eroticism that is entirely appropriate to this crisply told tale, Sangailé is a touching and deeply empathetic gem.
Romanian auteur Corneliu Porumboiu is at the height of his low-key powers in this affectionate tale of Costi, a dutiful father who’s plunged into a stone-faced caper comedy when he catches wind of a fortune supposedly buried on a nearby estate. Indulging his fantasies of striking it rich, Costi instead spends a fateful weekend unearthing old disappointments, revisiting Romanian history and navigating the loopholes presented by local bureaucrats. “A deadpan gem…”—Variety
A young man will do anything to protect his younger sister after witnessing her abuse as a child. That doesn’t make things easy for either of them as the girl tries to spread her wings. Mixing theatricality, naïveté, innocence and shocking violence in a highly distinctive way, Ernest Nkosi’s dramatization of siblings struggling to carve out an existence in the Alexandra township of Johannesburg is tender and tragic by turns. An extraordinarily plaintive score adds another dimension to this heartfelt debut.
In this searing drama set in a remote Kosovar village after the war with Serbia, Isa Qosja explores a patriarchal society rattled by the revelation that their women were violated by enemy soldiers. The immaculately shot film hinges on a showdown between an iron-fisted mayor intent on covering up their shame and a progressive teacher who refuses to tolerate his victim-blaming. “A powerful human story with the timeless, elemental feel of a revenge Western.”—Hollywood Reporter
While harbouring impure thoughts in the shower, Haim-Aaron (Aharon Traitel), a young ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva student, suffers the ultimate existential crisis. Therefore, so too must his father. In Tikkun, God’s test of Abraham is turned upside down against the dark night of contemporary Jerusalem. Avishai Sivan’s supremely controlled study of newly minted doubt—and decidedly un-Orthodox behaviour—is unlike any Israeli film you’ve seen. Prepare to be shocked.
Former martial arts champion Andreas Marquardt’s life isn’t defined by victories but rather by vicious cycles. The product of unthinkably abusive parents, contempt came easily, setting him on a self-destructive path demarcated by pimping and prison. Rosa von Praunheim’s unflinching docudrama reopens Marquardt’s old wounds through stylish re-enactments and profiles how one woman’s devotion—or is it masochism?—steers him towards hard-won redemption.
Rama (Life of Pi’s Suraj Sharma) is flushed out of rural life when he learns that his brother is missing in Mumbai. As a search for answers thrusts him into the metropolis’ chaos, he forges letters from his sibling to his mother in hopes of sparing her heartbreak. In turn, Prashant Nair crafts a moving story about devotion and discovery. "The film’s takes on immigration, country-city contrasts and youthful dreams of the future are lovingly detailed…"—Hollywood Reporter
Shot in a single astonishing take, this tour-de-force heist thriller plunges us into the predicament of Victoria (Laia Costa), whose “one crazy night” in Berlin grows increasingly perilous as she’s roped into a bank robbery. Such technical audaciousness only heightens the narrative’s tension, setting the stage for a dizzying climax that’s precisely the sort of spectacle best seen on the big screen. “A kinetic, frenetic, sense-swamping rollercoaster ride.”—Hollywood Reporter
A man offers a significant sum of money to a worthy person in need who comes to his office on May 9 and makes a convincing appeal. But how to deal with the throngs of needy candidates who assemble? How does he decide who’s actually the most worthy? From a simple premise, Vahid Jalilvand employs formal finesse and unforgettably urgent performances (including the great Niki Karimi) to craft a profound study of human nature and social and economic realities.
Boccaccio’s Decameron without sex may seem surprising, but desire, delight and the beauty of youth are everywhere here. A tapestry of colour and the supreme natural beauty of the medieval Italian countryside, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s resplendent work, set in 1348, features ten young Florentines who hide from the plague in a country villa. To pass the time, they tell stories "that seem to vibrate with erotic passions inflamed by the presence of death."—New Yorker