Finland, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Czech Republic
Thirty years after achieving the zenith of his career in grease paint, an acclaimed actor returns from self-imposed exile for one last show in Prague. Reunited with his former partners, he and his colleagues attempt to restage their greatest performance, stave off old rivalries and ensure that time doesn’t have the last laugh. Viktor Tauš’ poignant film reminds us that tragicomedy is the lifeblood of clowning.
USA, Sweden, Denmark, Finland
Assembling striking archival material of African liberation efforts and scoring it with passages from Frantz Fanon’s vital treatise on colonialism, The Wretched of the Earth, acclaimed director Göran Hugo Olsson fashions one of the most impressively structured and incredibly intense found-footage films in recent memory. Lauren Hill narrates this “prickly, passionate call to arms.”—Time Out. Winner, Cinema Fairbindet Prize, Berlin 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.
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
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
The meteoric fall of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is luridly rendered and lent enthralling velocity by Abel Ferrara in this debauched, sexually explicit sensory assault starring a magnificently vile Gérard Depardieu as gluttony personified. "A bluntly powerful provocation that begins as a kind of tabloid melodrama and gradually evolves into a fraught study of addiction, narcissism and the lava flow of capitalist privilege."—Variety
Master documentarian Frederick Wiseman continues his supremely intelligent examinations of institutions with this probing, beautifully made look at one of the west’s great bastions of culture—Britain’s National Gallery. Key staff and ongoing problems and controversies are all quietly examined, and the result is "a truly inspiring piece of filmmaking [that is] universally recognisable as a great, great film."—Telegraph
France, Turkey, Germany
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.
"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.
UK, France, Germany
Acclaimed director Mike Leigh and perennially unsung actor Timothy Spall are at the heights of their considerable powers in this enthralling account of visionary J.M.W. Turner’s final years. "As successful in its tiny details as it is in its epic amplitude [it works] as a warts-and-all portrait of the painter and his circle, and as a large-scale evocation of Victorian England."—Screen. Winner, Best Actor, Cannes 2014.
The prolific Xavier Dolan reveals a newfound maturity with this bittersweet account of Diane (Anne Dorval, channelling Gena Rowlands) and her delinquent son (Antoine-Olivier Pilon, magnetic). Having abandoned the matricidal posturing of I Killed My Mother, Dolan sides with Diane on this occasion, crafting "a funny, heartbreaking and, above all, original work…"—Variety. Winner, Prix du Jury (ex aequo), Cannes 2014.
Canada, France, Germany
Perverse and playful, David Cronenberg’s merciless satire takes dead aim at the Hollywood glitterati’s vanities, psychoses and foolish belief that the past can be rewritten. A powerhouse ensemble—John Cusack, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska and Robert Pattinson—brings Cronenberg’s glamourous grotesques to life. “Mulholland Drive, Sunset Boulevard and The Player wrapped up into one darkly comic, Gothic-tinged package.”—Screen. Winner, Best Actress (Julianne Moore), Cannes 2014.
Italy, France, Belgium
Marion Cotillard gives her rawest performance as a woman desperately trying to save her job and discovering the meaning of solidarity and self-worth. "A tense dramatic situation and a subtly magnificent central performance… add up to an outstanding new movie from the Dardenne brothers: impassioned, exciting and moving—a Twelve Angry Men of the 21st-century workplace."—Guardian. Winner, Sydney Film Prize, Sydney 2014.
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
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
USA, France, Russia, Austria, Germany
Generally considered the most important living Russian artists, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov cooperated fully on this documentary by Amei Wallach (Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine). More than 20 years after fleeing Russia, the Kabakovs return to install six walk-through installations in venues throughout Moscow. "Dynamically shot… conveying the emotional urgency of the Kabakovs’ work."—The New York Times
Italy, Brazil, France
Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado’s magnetic portrait of photographer Sebastião Salgado, is "illuminating and uplifting… [It moves] from his early years growing up on a Brazilian farm… through to his increasingly large-scale photographic projects that took him to many of the world’s most hostile and dangerous conflict zones… A moving tribute to a peerless talent."—Guardian. Winner, Special Jury Prize, Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2014.
Pan Nalin, whose Samsara and Ayurveda: Art of Being struck such chords with Vancouverites, turns his spiritually questing eye towards the Kumbh Mela, the sacred Hindu pilgrimage/festival that unfolds along the Ganges and attracts 100 million devotees. By alternating specific characters—a 10-year-old runaway, an aging holy man—with the sheer spectacle on display, Nalin’s gorgeous film is a celebration of diversity.
UK, USA, France, Nigeria
Legendary Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer and political dissident Fela Kuti is brought to life in Oscar-winner Alex Gibney’s (Taxi to the Dark Side) stirring evocation of the man and his music. Mixing archival concert footage from the 70s and 80s, present-day interviews and behind-the-scenes documentation of the 2009 Broadway musical Fela!, Gibney’s kaleidoscopic film is as protean and rousing as Kuti himself was.