Garnering audience awards all over the festival circuit, Richie Adams’ true indie is a beautiful, soul-stirring drama that brings together the city of New Orleans and the jazz that made it famous with the story of a haunted neuroscientist trying to help the declining jazz singer (The Help’s Aunjanue Ellis, remarkable here) he discovers singing in the streets.
Hong Kong pop meets art in Heiward Mak’s latest feature, a rich, moving, dazzling, and deeply, sympathetically savvy look at the amorous and professional lives of six twenty-something Hong Kongers. Their complex, ambivalent lives play out over six years in fascinating, interlocking stories. Mak’s fiercely contemporary sensibility creates an essential snapshot of Hong Kong’s hopes, anxieties and pleasures today. Shelly Kraicer
Ex-con Shengli, whose rough exterior hides a gentle soul, has a nutty plan: open a kindergarten with his dancer-cum-nurse partner. But he can’t shake the violent shadows of his past. Zhang Meng’s controversial winner at the Shanghai Film Festival is a rare Chinese commercial film that’s dramatically powerful, absurdly comic, politically astute and somehow censor-approved. Winner, Grand Jury Prize, Shanghai 2014. Shelly Kraicer