Alain Resnais’ swan song is a wry, deliberately heightened adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn’s play. The unseen Riley is dying, but he still possesses the power to disrupt the marriages of his friends (Sabine Azéma, Sandrine Kiberlain, André Dussollier, Hippolyte Girardot). "This joyous yet melancholic effort… charts the woes of middle-class couples coping with problematic love lives, solitude and death…"—Hollywood Reporter. Winner, Alfred Bauer Prize, Berlin 2014.
A broad ranging and hard-hitting discussion of the importance (and regular misuse) of mathematics in our lives, Olivier Peyon’s documentary is also very much about why we should love math, and care that its power is used well. This captivating work builds its arguments on significant recent data, as well as the inspired testimonials of gifted teachers, mathematicians, finance critics—and kvetching children.
"Jean-Luc Godard’s 3-D opus, was easily [Cannes’] defining event… Less a culmination of the polyphonic mode that is Late Godard than an acceleration, the film is a furiously associative meditation on humanity and history, cinematic and linguistic meaning, the world of nature and the nature of reality—all refracted through fragmentary episodes involving an adulterous couple and dog’s-eye-view roamings through a light-streaked forest.”—Art Forum. Winner, Prix du Jury (ex aequo), Cannes 2014.
Catherine Deneuve owns the screen in her seventh collaboration with André Téchiné (Scene of the Crime, Thieves). She plays real-life casino owner Renée Le Roux, who went up against the mob in 1970s Nice and whose daughter Agnès (rising star Adèle Haenel, also in Love at First Fight) subsequently disappeared. Guillaume Canet (Tell No One) is the shady lawyer—Agnès’ lover—who may (or may not) be involved in the disappearance.
A terrific cast featuring Zabou Breitman, Pascal Elbe, Jacques Gamblin and Sylvie Testud anchors Alexandre Arcady’s true-life thriller. "[The film] offers up a white-knuckle dramatization of the nearly month-long kidnapping and torture of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi, whose traumatic ordeal… prompted a massive police manhunt and, eventually, a national outcry against anti-Semitism in France… Captivating…"—Hollywood Reporter
Provocateur Bruno Dumont (Humanité) delivers arguably his biggest shocker yet with this outrageous comedy. An absurdist police procedural, it follows a Clouseau-like, tic-infested inspector as he investigates a macabre murder spree (dead cows are being stuffed with human remains) and contends with mischievous interference courtesy of a pack of juvenile scoundrels led by the impish Quinquin. “Wonderfully weird and unexpectedly hilarious…”—Variety
Yves Saint Laurent receives a suitably stylish, well-tailored biopic courtesy of director Jalil Lespert, who delves into the iconic designer’s meteoric rise, relationship with Pierre Bergé (Guillaume Gallienne) and creative crises. Pierre Niney "doesn’t play Saint Laurent so much as embody him… [and] Ibrahim Maalouf’s score occasionally dares to go for baroque or broke, lending an operatic quality to the proceedings that suits the material.”—Hollywood Reporter
Dietrich Brüggemann’s conceptually daring story of a devout teenager’s trials is eloquently told in 14 chapters, each a masterful single take. As Maria becomes a “warrior of Christ,” the film proves itself both a condemnation of fundamentalist religion and a testament to faith. “While stark, it’s far from chilly—Brüggemann has a sense of humor about his subject matter.”—Village Voice. Winner, Best Screenplay, Berlin 2014.
France, Turkey, Germany
"Nuri Bilge Ceylan [Once Upon a Time in Anatolia] is at the peak of his powers with [this] richly engrossing and ravishingly beautiful magnum opus… [The film] tunnels into the everyday existence of a middle-aged former actor turned comfortably situated hotel owner—and emerges with a multifaceted study of human frailty whose moral implications resonate far beyond its remote Turkish setting."—Variety. Winner, Palme d’Or, Cannes 2014.
Passionate and utterly compelling, Hüseyin Karabey’s beautifully crafted film is founded in political absurdity. When the Turkish military surrounds a Kurdish village, takes alleged rebels into custody and demands the return of nonexistent guns, a little girl and her grandmother set off in search of a weapon—any weapon—that might earn her father’s freedom. Breathtaking vistas and nerve-wracking suspense await. Winner, Audience Award, Istanbul 2014.
France, Hungary, South Korea
Hungarian director/ringmaster György Pálfi (Hukkle) turns an apartment building into seven rings of carnivalesque hell in this stunner. Pálfi essays the grotesqueries of modern life through stories that run the gamut from social realism to sci-fi. “It’s thrilling to see a director in such clear command of the cinematic medium operating in such a playfully stylized way.”—Variety. Winner, Best Director, Karlovy Vary 2014.
A small miracle of a movie, Tsai Ming-liang’s insanely slow, magnificently gorgeous film is his most beautiful in years. For 56 minutes we watch Tsai’s actor fetiche Lee Kang-sheng, accompanied by French art-house icon Denis Lavant, walk ever-so-slowly through a series of urban spaces in Marseilles. Hilarious visual puzzles; plays of light and space; pure cinema magic. Shelly Kraicer
France, Germany, Switzerland
Juliette Binoche is riveting as an actor asked to revisit the play that made her a star 20 years before—but this time she is to essay the role of the older woman, not the ingenue… "Though deceptively casual on its surface… [Olivier Assayas’ film is] a multi-layered, femme-driven meta-fiction that pushes all involved—including next-gen starlets Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz—to new heights."—Variety
Five neighbourhoods, five different rooftops, five tragic stories. With these tales, veteran director Merzak Allouache takes the pulse of Algiers, a city rife with crime, teeming with intrigue and reeling from the clash of cultures. Allouache’s view is at once panoramic and intimate: he reaches across the city and pulls us close to its people. “Confident, composed and full of contemporary relevance.”—Filmmaker
France, Ivory Coast
Beginning with an assassination that makes it obvious why our protagonist (Abdoul Karim Konaté) is called "Run," Philippe Lacôte’s alternately oneiric and ultra-realistic coming-of-age tale is mesmerizing cinema. "Run makes one young man’s picaresque adventures into a magical realist microcosm of the Ivory Coast’s recent history… The current hotness of African cinema just got a little hotter."—Hollywood Reporter
Mixing awe and irreverence, this cinephile’s delight explores the legendary Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman’s home, life, films and legacy through interviews with luminaries like Michael Haneke, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, John Landis, Claire Denis, Ang Lee, Zhang Yimou and Lars von Trier (as quotable as ever). Their insights will inspire an intense desire to view (or re-view) Bergman’s classics.
France, Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic
Eloquent and engrossing, George Ovashvili’s fable-like drama unfolds on a tiny island that emerges each summer from a river between warring Georgia and Abkhazia. For the skillful elderly peasant who plants its amazing corn crop and his nubile granddaughter, it’s soon the site of a desperate struggle for survival. "A master class in emotionally charged minimalism…"—Hollywood Reporter. Winner, Crystal Globe, Karlovy Vary 2014.
France, Germany, Malaysia, Netherlands
Pak Awang wants to give his daughter a wedding gift: a house he finds in the jungle. He enlists fellow villagers to literally move it, on their shoulders, to their Malaysian village. But when an illegal African immigrant sheltering there is mistaken for a ghost, a madcap series of hilarious misunderstandings ensues. Black humour with a serious political/allegorical twist. Shelly Kraicer
The story of an idealistic teacher who becomes convinced that one of her five-year old charges is a prodigious poet, Nadav Lapid’s second feature (Policeman was in VIFF 11) invites myriad questions about life and art, words and meaning, and the perceptual boundaries between adults and children. Elusive, haunting and ultimately disturbing, this is a drama you’ll be replaying in your mind long afterwards.