Leifur (Olafur Darri Ólafsson) wakes up hung over, buck naked, smelling of sex and slathered in makeup. All told, it’s just another day at the office for Iceland’s most notorious politician. Emulating Leifur’s chronologically jumbled, kaleidoscopic reality, Marteinn Thórsson’s extremist fever dream plunges us into a bacchanalian hell. Winner, Best Actor, Karlovy Vary 2013.
India, France, Germany
When a lunchbox painstakingly prepared and intended for Ila’s (Nimrat Kaur) husband is mistakenly delivered to Saajan (the wonderful Irrfan Khan, Life of Pi), the under-appreciated Mumbai housewife and lonely accountant strike up an intimate correspondence, sharing their inner thoughts and life stories. Ritesh Batra’s soulful debut is "a wistful, elegant love story."—Screen
Six pregnant women in India dream of the better life they’ll enjoy the day their babies are born… and then handed over to their rightful mothers. A sensitive, well-crafted examination of the complex issue of surrogacy, Valerie Gudenus’ documentary chronicles these women’s aspirations and the complications that arise during their nine-month journeys.
UK, India, Norway
One of the great cinematic pairings—Bergman and Ullman—comes vividly to life in Dheeraj Akolkar’s vibrant documentary, aided immeasurably by the radiant Liv Ullmann’s on-screen narration. Beautifully rendered excerpts from their films and candid reminiscences complete a lovely picture.
Riri Riza’s very realistic fiction focuses on the refugees who fled to Indonesia when East Timor became independent… but longed to go back home. Deeply humane and beautifully acted, this crowd-funded film was shot in Atambua itself.
Despite still being under house arrest, Jafar Panahi somehow continues to make masterful films. His latest—co-directed with Kambuzia Partovi—sees a man and a woman holed up in a seaside villa, where mind games and paranoia run deep. "The rewards—heady, emotional, provocative and invigorating—are limitless.”—Time Out. Winner, Best Screenplay, Berlin 2013.
In the 60s and 70s, Bahman Mohassess was a famous artist in Tehran. In 2006, he destroyed his work and disappeared. Mitra Farahani tracked him to a hotel room in Rome and the result is this fascinating, moving and ribald portrait. "Evidence of what Iran has lost by silencing or scattering the voices of its culture."—Screen
Like Jafar Panahi (see Closed Curtain), Mohammad Rasoulof is under a 20-year filmmaking ban, and, like Panahi, he has made a clandestinely shot film, this one an angry political thriller focusing on two assassins working for Iran’s security apparatus. "A brave, challenging picture that makes the viewer complicit in the action…"—Variety
Parviz Shahbazi’s engrossing moral thriller hinges on the bristling relationship between two young women in contemporary Tehran. Forced to share an apartment with party-loving Sahar, determined med-student Nazanin feels like a prisoner in her own home. But when Sahar is wrongfully arrested, Nazanin campaigns for her release. Winner, Best Director, Fajr 2013.
Iranian master Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s return to filmmaking is at once radical and celebratory. Shooting, with son Maysam, at Baha’i headquarters in Haifa and Acre, Israel (!), he crafts a colourful, playful and yet deeply intelligent look at the Baha’i faith. "Images and metaphors whimsically combine in a fine, fast-flowing documentary…"—Hollywood Reporter
Since fleeing Iran during the revolution, documentarian Nahid Persson Sarvestani (Prostitution: Behind the Veil) has been plagued by guilt and haunted by thoughts of her lost brother. Seeking both answers and absolution, she interviews survivors of the Islamic Republic’s brutal prisons, uncovering stirring accounts of dignity and resolve. "Deeply affecting…"—Hollywood Reporter
Iran’s Asghar Farhadi (A Separation), now working in France, directs the brilliant Bérénice Bejo (The Artist), Tahar Rahim (A Prophet, Grand Central) and Ali Mosaffa in a tense domestic relationship triangle. "An intricate and often brilliant drama, with restrained and intelligent performances… Farhadi’s filmmaking is compelling."—Guardian. Winner, Best Actress, Cannes 2013.
Forget the Troubles and get your "Teenage Kicks" instead! Set in 70s Belfast, Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn’s exhilarating biopic celebrates the gregarious godfather of Northern Irish punk. "An impassioned, funny and monumentally likable myth-making comedy."—Time Out
In 2008, 18 climbers from a party of 24 reached the summit of the world’s second-highest mountain, the treacherous K2; 48 hours later 11 were either dead or had simply vanished. What happened? Nick Ryan weaves together found footage, eerie reenactments and interviews with survivors to try and solve this tragic mystery.
A black comedy exploring some of life’s common fears: of the unknown, of failure, of rejection and, finally, of death. Narrated by George Takei.
There’s something odd about this conversation. With Game of Thrones’ Jack Gleeson.
A disgraced cop and grieving father look to exact vengeance on a suspected pedophile murderer in this grisly tale. With its heady mix of brutality, merciless black comedy and potent subtext, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s thriller leaves you reeling and forces you to question where your sympathies lie. Winner, Best Film, Best Screenplay, Fantasia 2013.
A revealing day in the ER ward of Hadassah Medical Center, located in the ethnically charged buffer zone of Mount Scopus, as seen through the eyes of two female doctors, one a Jewish immigrant from Chile, and the other a Palestinian Israeli from the north of Israel.
Joseph Madmony’s (Restoration) probing fictional biography of a top Israeli general turned politician (Alon Aboutboul) encompasses 40 years of Israeli history while providing an intimate portrait of an obstinate man whose principles come before everything else. Just the right hint of Madmony’s characteristic mystical overtones adds to its allusive weight.
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