Germany, Saudi Arabia
The first feature film made entirely within Saudi Arabia, female director Haifaa Al Mansour’s drama follows 10-year-old Wadjda as she asserts her independence and negotiates the realities of growing up a woman in that nation. "One of 2013’s best films so far… a massively endearing tale…"—Guardian. Winner, Best Film, Dubai 2012; Audience Award, Los Angeles 2013.
Coumba and Debo, sisters from a Sengalese village, are the first of the family to attend school. When their brother is injured, father decides to sell young Debo as a bride. Coumba concocts a plan to save her… Jeremy Teicher’s accomplished and understated drama sensitively captures the tradition/modernity split in Africa today.
Alarmed by his parishioners’ fondness for birth control, an over-enthusiastic young priest sets about sabotaging the condom stocks in his tiny island diocese. As birthrates spike, the laughs follow suit in Vinko Brešan’s charming testament to the fact that sex and religion make fine comedic bedfellows. "Colourful, fun and breezy…"—Screen
Set in 1990s Singapore, Anthony Chen’s vivid, bittersweet debut chronicles the relationship between a family of three and their newly arrived Filipino maid, Teresa. As she develops a bond with rascally son Jiale, the parents face economic and personal crises with dignity and unexpected reserves of love. Winner, Caméra d’Or, Cannes 2013.
Slovakia, Czech Republic
When an unwelcome guest crashes a wedding, his presence casts a pall over the fairytale occasion. Capping the trilogy that includes VIFF favourites Kawasaki’s Rose and Innocence, Jan Hřebejk crafts a compelling reminder of Faulkner’s assertion, "The past is never dead. It’s not even past." Winner, Best Director, Karlovy Vary 2013.
Corporate greed, human rights and religion, in a bold animation.
Guided by the joyous rhythms of Cape Jazz, this rousing crowd-pleaser centres on a teenaged saxophonist torn between honouring his late father and obeying his protective mother. Roberta Durrant delivers an inspiring coming-of-age tale about finding the courage to fulfill your ambitions and the strength to let the past go. Winner, Audience Award, Durban 2013.
When an Afrikaan man romances a Zulu woman, there’s bound to be a price to pay. In the case of Fanie and Dinky, it’s her dowry (known in South Africa as lobola). Cultures clash and sparks fly in Henk Pretorius’ star-crossed romantic comedy. Winner, Audience Award, Seattle 2013.
Hong Sangsoo won Best Director in Locarno for this comedy of manners about a young woman and the three hopeless men orbiting her. Sunhi is set on studying abroad, but needs a character reference…
Park Hoonjung conflates The Godfather and the Infernal Affairs trilogy in this massively entertaining gangster thriller with three powerhouse star performances. Jasung stands to take over the Goldmoon crime syndicate, but he’s actually a police mole… and his sworn brother/rival suspects him.
Images of Korean aid-volunteers in Southeast Asia + a seemingly unrelated text = a witty, provocative experimental film that raises questions inside and beyond the frame.
K-pop as you’ve never seen it! Lee Harkjoon gets incredibly intimate access to the grooming and launch of girl band 9 Muses (the endless rehearsals, the rivalries) and nails the whole system. Dragons & Tigers Award nominee.
A low-key, observational doc about Garibong, the area of Seoul now dominated by Korean-Chinese immigrants; Park Kiyong quietly goes beyond sociology to empathy with a group notorious for hostility to the host community.
A young man grieving over a family death finds himself nursing an injured woman—who has a vicious gangster on her trail. The poetic title refers to unspoken feelings, which run rife in a violent tale of hatred and revenge. It won the Best Director prize at the Moscow Festival for Jung Youngheon, who also scripted.
Korea has all but cornered the market in comedy-dramas about the family, and Song Haesung’s film is one of the best. A middle-class failure (the wonderful Park Haeil) has to learn to live with his criminal brother and his sexually incontinent sister—not to mention his unflappable mom.
Shim Hyunseok explores an end-of-the-world dilemma.
The director of Western Movie (VIFF 11) returns with a film set in and around a tin outhouse. It features two teenaged boys, a lamb, a nervous man, a bossy woman and a policeman. Plus an embarrassing love letter.
Kim Soojin explores urban paranoia.
Park Chaiyoung’s satirical homage to Buñuel.
Kim Soohyun’s portrait of a phenomenal woman: she works as a voice artist (games, ads) but when she’s asked to consider a Brecht role, a flood of reflections on gender and madness is unleashed. Dragons & Tigers Award nominee.