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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
The great Juliette Binoche gives a stirring performance as the sculptress and lover of Rodin who was unjustly confined to a benevolent asylum in Provence for 30 years. A gorgeously filmed and deeply disturbing portrait from iconoclastic master Bruno Dumont (L’humanité).
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.
Luc Jacquet (March of the Penguins) and pioneering botanist and ecologist Francis Hallé fly us to the very top of the Amazon rainforest canopy and chronicle seven centuries in the life of this "green lung" of the world. A glorious celebration of trees and a call to arms for the protection of this wondrous tropical ecosystem.
The great Alain Resnais brings together a fantastic cast—Piccoli, Azéma, Arditi, Amalric and others—for a roundelay of theatre and passion in a country house. "Digital technology meets lyrical drama… in this puckishly daring, intricately original work."—New Yorker. Dedicated to the memory of film critic, professor and VIFF friend Mark Harris.
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.
In 2009, French security van driver Toni Musulin disappeared with 11.6 million euros (hence the film’s title), instantly propelling himself to celebrity status in France. François Cluzet (Intouchables) stars in Philippe Godeau’s noirish, psychological take on the heist and its aftermath. "Fascinates from beginning to end."—Hollywood Reporter
Isabelle Huppert and Toni Servillo (Il Divo) are superb in Italian master Marco Bellocchio’s caustic political critique and keenly observed social drama centring on the hot-button issue of euthanasia. A powerful and supremely intelligent work, showing Bellocchio at the peak of his powers.
France, Mexico, Germany, Netherlands
Cannes 2013’s Steven Spielberg-led jury awarded Best Director to Amat Escalante for this tale ripped from blood-soaked headlines. "New Wave Mexican style: raw, gritty, and force fed… A film about supporting others as you yourself are written out of the picture. A damning indictment of contemporary Mexico, capturing its institutionalised corruption, its endemic cruelty."—Guardian Winner, Best Director, Cannes 2013.
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…
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.
Corneliu Porumboiu follows up on Police, Adjective with this film within a film about a director whose affair with one of his supporting actresses threatens to cross over into—and change the shape of—the film he is making. A clever and intimate look at the easily crossed fine line between art and life.
France, Israel, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg
Waltz with Bashir’s Ari Folman again pushes the boundaries of animation with this audacious reinvention of Stanislaw Lem’s The Futurological Congress. When Robin Wright (playing herself) consents to being digitally preserved, she’s inadvertently plunged into a dystopian "animation zone." A mind-bending "ode to the wonders of cinematic invention."—Indiewire
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