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.
All of the fairytale archetypes—be they wolves or fairy godmothers—are present in Agnès Jaoui’s (The Taste of Others) delightful comedy. However, as a beguiling ensemble of lovelorn Parisians navigate their romantic entanglements, the playful narrative skirts conventional happily-ever-afters and steers itself into far more realistic and rewarding territory.
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.
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.
Reminiscent of Fellini at his most symphonic, Paolo Sorrentino’s (Il Divo) story of a high-flying journalist (Toni Servillo, superb) brought low by the death of his first love is both visually dazzling and emotionally rich. “Sorrentino’s magnificent return to form… A lush, classical tale of middle-age hedonism and lost love.”—Guardian
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, 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
In this piercing masterpiece, Rithy Panh grapples with the horrors Cambodia faced under the Khmer Rouge. "A series of painstakingly crafted dioramas… at once extremely fragile and necessarily distanced… A dam constructed to control the flow of an ocean of sorrow."—Film Comment. Winner, Best Film, Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2013.
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.
France, Germany, Kazakhstan
With its culture of intimidation, the playground has always resembled a prison yard. Lyrical and jarring, Emir Baigazin’s commanding debut centres on a teenager trapped in a cycle of mind games and bullying. "Poetic, formally disciplined and psychologically gripping…"—Hollywood Reporter. Winner, Best New Director, Seattle 2013; Outstanding Artistic Contribution, Berlin 2013.
The rules were: one day, one wheel, one shot (no editing). Valérie Massadian’s (Nana) hypnotic short was made for Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum.
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.
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.
Spanning the totality of Michael Haneke’s career and featuring interviews with him, as well as footage of Haneke working on the films Amour (Oscar winner for best foreign language film), Code Unknown and The White Ribbon, Yves Montmayeur’s documentary portrait is "a must-see for anyone who admires this director."—Guardian
Two of France’s hottest young stars, Léa Seydoux (Blue Is the Warmest Colour) and Tahar Rahim (A Prophet), play workers at a nuclear power station who fall in love in Rebecca Zlotowski’s powerful drama. Offers a rare and fascinating look inside the everyday workings of a nuclear power plant. "Engrossing, superbly acted."—Variety
Italy, France, Germay, Germany, Portugal
In the first of these brilliant films from Portugal, Miguel Gomes’ (Tabu) found-footage collage examines human fallibility in its many forms. + The King’s Body (30 min.) Taking into account the first Portuguese king’s myth-like status, João Pedro Rodrigues’ ruminates on just what the body of Dom Afonso Henriques might have looked like…+ Mahjong (33 min.): João Rui Guerra da Mata and João Pedro Rodrigues enact a mysterious mahjong-like game between East and West, a man and a missing woman…
France, Austria, Germany
As befits its title, the conclusion of Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy is far more upbeat than the others. His story of chubby 13-year-old Melanie (Melanie Lenz), sent to weight-loss camp, still makes acerbic fun of the bourgeois, but his treatment of Melanie and her campmates is positively tender and affectionate.
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, Georgia, Germany
"Nana Ekvtimishvili [with Simon Gross] marks her filmmaking debut in an impressive coming-of-age feature about female friendship, fatal feuds and family friction in post-Soviet Georgia… With superb performances and high technical polish… In Bloom has the texture of authentic experience."—Hollywood Reporter
Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt) stars in Arnaud des Pallières’ atmospheric adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist’s classic novella about principles, law and revenge. In 16th-century Cévennes, a horse-dealer is wronged by a local lord. His search for justice will ravage the countryside.