This is an emotionally charged, deeply troubling drama about the struggles of families displaced by war to resettle in the safety of Western Europe. Arriving by land over the Polish border from Belarus, they should by rights be able to claim asylum and be placed in a detention center until the merits of their case are heard. Instead, they are rounded up and dumped back on the eastern side of the barbed wire fence with as much brutality as the guards can muster. And then the game begins again. Veteran Agnieszka Holland — whose prolific career runs the gamut from The Secret Garden to In Darkness and episodes of The Wire and House of Cards — approaches the story from several different vantage points, including the refugees’ perspective and the guards’, but you will never doubt where her moral conscience lies. Shot in stark black and white, this is utterly compelling cinema; a timely, vehement denunciation of resurgent fascism and the quiescence which enables it.
Special Jury Prize, Venice 2023
Jalal Altawil, Maja Ostaszewska, Tomasz Włosok, Behi Djanati Atai, Mohamad Al Rashi, Dalia Naous
In Polish, English and Arabic with English subtitles
Violence, Depictions of Racism
Mike Downey, Jeff Field
Fred Bernstein, Agnieszka Holland, Marcin Wierzchoslawski
Agnieszka Holland, Gabriela Lazarkiewicz-Sieczko, Maciej Pisuk
Agnieszka Holland is a three-time US Academy Award nominee (for Angry Harvest; Europa, Europa and In Darkness). She directed her first feature, Provincial Actors, in 1978. Since the 1990s she has worked regularly in the United States on films like Total Eclipse, Copying Beethoven and Mr Jones, and on TV series like The Wire, House of Cards, The Killing and Treme.
Filmography: Europa, Europa (1990); The Secret Garden (1993); Washington Square (1997); In Darkness (2011); Charlatan (2020)
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Veteran director Marco Bellocchio (The Traitor) returns with a passionate historical drama about a Jewish child abducted by Pope Pius IX in 1865 on the grounds that he had been secretly baptized. This is a rich, operatic film that resonates strongly.
In an Arctic research facility, a mysterious creature is found and captured, finding unexpected love with a woman working under the organization. Portrayed through polished ballet, Creature tells the story of unfettered emotion through kinetic movement.
The Royal Hotel
In Kitty Green's harrowing follow up to The Assistant, Hanna (Julia Garner) and Liv (Jessica Henwick) are backpacking across Australia. Running low on funds, they decide tending bar in an Outback mining town could be a lark. This proves a mistake.
In her seventies Agnieszka Holland has made a ferocious, emotionally charged film about the brutal treatment of refugees arriving over the Polish land border from Belarus. This is a vehement denunciation of resurgent fascism and utterly compelling cinema.
They Shot the Piano Player
The fate of a prodigious Brazilian samba pianist murdered in Argentina in 1976 fuels this animated docu-fiction from the team who gave us the Academy Award-nominee Chico & Rita. Jeff Goldblum voices the writer who digs into Francisco Tenório Jr's story.
I Am Sirat
I Am Sirat is a personal documentary about Sirat, a transwoman in India, who lives a dual life. While supported by a queer network of friends in Delhi, Sirat reverts to the closet at home as she’s forced to maintain a son’s familial and cultural responsibilities.
The Teachers' Lounge
When a grade 6 student is accused of theft, idealistic young math teacher Ms Nowak decides to set up a sting to find the true culprit... with disastrous results. This buzzy Berlin film festival title is an ethics master class.
Evil Does Not Exist
After the international success of Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi quietly made this small-scale independent film, a work of simplicity and grace about a rural community and the developers who want to built a "glamping" retreat in the woods.
In the heart of Buenos Aires, two bank clerks live a gray, mind-numbingly routine existence—that is, until one of them commits a crime that upends both their lives. Invigorating, precisely composed, and endlessly inventive.
Four Little Adults
Upon learning of her husband's year long affair, Juulia proposes an open marriage free of secrets. As a polyamory guide becomes their bible, Juulia falls in love with someone new, filling their journey in polyamory with love, compassion, and compromise.
Just the Two of Us
Beginning as a sunny romance, this film slowly, subtly becomes a defiant feminist drama. When Blanche meets Greg at a seaside party, she’s quickly won over by his confidence and charm, but once they’re married, he reveals a much darker side.
Close to You
In his first feature film role since 2017, Elliot Page delivers a deeply felt and nuanced performance as a young man reuniting with his family for the first time since his transition, four years earlier.
During the chaotic preparations for the birthday of her terminally ill father, a seven-year-old girl finds herself caught amid a complex adult world interspersed with a sense of change. A Buñuelian class study keyed to the interior life of a child.
About Dry Grasses
In a remote village in eastern Turkey, an art teacher enters his fourth and final year at a state-mandated teaching post, but finds himself having to navigate two tricky relationships which force him into existential crisis.
A stimulating and cathartic docu-drama from Academy-Award nominee, Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania, about a mother who lost two teenage daughters when they fled to Libya to fight for ISIS.
How to Have Sex
Sixteen-year-old Tara and her two best friends arrive to a Greek party town ready to let their hair down. But while Tara is indeed down for some summer fun, her boundaries keep getting trampled on by those closest to her.
Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World
Radu Jude takes two days in the life of a stressed Romanian p.a. and gives us an urgent, pissed off, sourly funny polemic on the state of late capitalism. Exploitation, discrimination and hypocrisy are his targets; dialectics are his dynamite.
The Monk and the Gun
On the eve of the Kingdom of Bhutan’s momentous transition to democracy in 2006, a monk sets off on a mysterious quest for his master, while an American collector arrives in a small town searching for a rare, valuable artefact.