Co-written (and reputedly also supervised) by Bong Joonho, this is an exceptionally gripping story set at sea between Korea and China. A fishing-boat skipper is persuaded (against his better judgment) to smuggle a group of 25 illegal immigrants from China, all of them ethnic Koreans, ashore: what could possibly go wrong? Like Memories of Murder, this is based on a real incident notorious in Korea. Tony Rayns
The French title—time suspended—perfectly captures this affectionate celebration of the artisans who create fabulous haute-couture outfits for Dior, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent: a third-generation specialist in pleat-making; a designer of perfect artificial flowers whose atelier opened in 1880; and one of three remaining sculptors of wooden forms for hat-making. A delightful look at a vanishing breed.
In need of cash for a lifesaving operation, a senior schemes to rig a bingo game.
Benny and Joshua Safdie’s (Daddy Longlegs) corrosively energetic mélange of documentary and fiction draws on the life of real junkie Arielle Holmes (playing a slightly fictionalized version of herself) as she tries to score while obsessing about her boyfriend. Adding scripted scenes featuring real drug dealers and denizens of the neighbourhood, the brothers have fashioned something powerful and sui generis.
Imtiaz Ali’s drama is anchored by A.R. Rahman’s forceful score and Alia Bhatt’s amazing turn as a kidnapped heiress. "Abduction paradoxically results in liberation for both the sheltered daughter of a rich industrialist and her hardened-criminal kidnapper in… this Bollywood road movie, which intertwines dark social issues and blithe romance [and succeeds] thanks in part to relative newcomer Alia Bhatt’s endearingly cockeyed performance."—Variety
Named after the coffee shop in which several key scenes are set, Hong Sangsoo’s latest centres on a Japanese man (Kase Ryu, Like Someone in Love) who fetches up in Seoul in search of a long-lost girlfriend. His amusingly awkward encounters with several other women and his landlady’s adult son make for Hong’s wittiest deconstruction of the rom-com in some time. Tony Rayns
The past is open to re-interpretation in this irreverent selection of short films. Be it personal histories or matters of historical record, deeply entrenched attitudes or well known passages of scripture, nothing is particularly sacred here. Featured films: Day 40, Jutra, Luk’Luk’i: Mother, Mynarski Death Plummet, Not Indian Enough, Righteous, Tigerbomb! and The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer
There are echoes of VIFF 12 standout Neighbouring Sounds in this anxiety-fuelled thriller. As increasingly odd events unfold in an affluent Buenos Aires suburb, anxiety escalates, setting the stage for an intoxicatingly tense climax. Benjamín Naishtat “invokes a sinister vibe [and] dramatizes the point at which desire for safety sublimates into paranoid acquiescence.”—Film Comment. Winner, Grand Prize, Jeonju 2014; New Directors Prize, San Francisco 2014.
An isolated and disabled man yearns to experience intimacy in a world that would rather ignore him.
An abused girl shares her story of trauma and despair—and how she learned to love herself again.
Set in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 Christchurch earthquakes, Gaylene Preston’s docudrama tells the true stories of New Zealanders picking up the pieces and fully earns its tagline: "It’s the aftershocks that run the deepest." Real news footage and recreated disaster sites are seamlessly blended in a moving tale of survival that “certainly pulls no punches.”—New Zealand Herald
“The restless spirits of Portugal’s post-colonial underclass stumble dazedly though the wilds of Horse Money, the latest—and in some respects the most striking—of director Pedro Costa’s hallucinatory bulletins from the Lisbon slum known as Fontainhas… [A] strange, hauntingly beautiful effort… [It] defies classification as readily as it reimagines the possibilities of cinema…”—Variety. Winner, Best Director, Locarno 2014.
Much of Matsubayashi’s prize-winning documentary was shot inside the “exclusion zone” around the crippled nuclear power-plant at Fukushima. He finds a stable of horses injured in the tsunami, and follows their rehabilitation to take part in a local horse festival. Very movingly, we watch one horse overcome its traumas… and one man overcome his fears. Tony Rayns
When sentenced to home detention at her mother’s secluded abode, a twentysomething troublemaker (Morgana O’Reilly, spectacularly surly) suspects that there may be something housed within the walls more horrifying than her childhood photographs. "A marvelously entertaining combo of haunted-house thriller, murder mystery and domestic comedy… This near-flawless mix of laughs and scares is one of the genre-related highlights of the year."—Variety
A broad ranging and hard-hitting discussion of the importance (and regular misuse) of mathematics in our lives, Olivier Peyon’s documentary is also very much about why we should love math, and care that its power is used well. This captivating work builds its arguments on significant recent data, as well as the inspired testimonials of gifted teachers, mathematicians, finance critics—and kvetching children.
A hit-and-run accident splinters this drama into three distinct chapters, each unfolding from a different character’s perspective. The involving, overlapping structure recalls Kieślowski and summons bold performances from a uniformly brilliant cast (headlined by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). "This slick, stylish fusion of class critique and murder mystery confirms Paolo Virzi as one of Italy’s more dynamic directors."—Variety. Winner, Best Actress, Tribeca 2014.